Last updated on January 13th, 2024 at 12:01 am

Items like antiques, art, and jewelry can hold a great deal of financial worth, but you won’t be able to sell them for the same price in every situation. Your method of selling can have a large impact on the sale price.

Many prefer selling valuables through an auction because they hope for competitive bidding and potentially higher sale prices. Others feel more comfortable with the consignment route, which provides a more predictable outcome. In this blog, we’ll explore the pros and cons of both options to help you make an informed choice.

Auctions

Auctions are a time-honored method of selling valuable items. They come in various forms, including online auctions accessible to a global audience and live auctions where buyers gather in person. 

Whether you choose an online or in-person auction, the process is similar. The auctioneer sets a starting price — typically lower than the market value of the item — and then potential buyers can bid against each other. The bidder willing to pay the most wins the item and sets the final sale price.

Advantages of Choosing the Auction Route

  • Potential for Higher Sale Prices: Auctions often lead to higher sale prices because they create a competitive atmosphere where bidders aim to outdo each other, driving up the value of your item.
  • Competitive Bidding and Excitement: Auctions can be thrilling for both sellers and buyers. The excitement of seeing the bidding war unfold can be a unique experience.

Disadvantages of Choosing the Auction Route

  • Risk of Lower Sale Prices: While auctions can yield high returns, the final sale price is uncertain, as it depends on the competitive dynamics and the bidders’ interest in your item. Some items sell for below market value or don’t sell at all.
  • Potentially Higher Costs and Fees: Auction houses charge various fees for listing, advertising, selling, shipping, and more. Sometimes these fees are more expensive than consignment fees, depending on the auction house.

Tips for a Successful Auction Experience

Research and select an auction house with a track record of selling items like yours successfully. If you’re looking to sell a niche item, you may be better off choosing an online auction provider so you can reach audiences who are farther away. The buyers who most appreciate your item’s unique value may live in another part of the country or world.

From there, you can work closely with the auction house to set realistic reserves and estimates for your items. This work will help you know what to expect and protect you from selling below an acceptable price.

The auction house will need you to provide details about your items for marketing purposes. They may ask you for detailed descriptions, quality images, and documentation of any relevant history or provenance that might increase the appeal to potential buyers. You may need to get your item appraised first, although some auction service providers can also offer professional appraisals.

Exploring the Consignment Option

Consignment involves partnering with a consignment shop, provider, or gallery to sell your valuable items. In this arrangement, the consignee (the shop or consignment service provider) takes possession of your item and sells it on your behalf. The proceeds are then shared between you and the consignee.

Advantages of Choosing the Consignment Route

  • Predictable Sale Prices: With consignment, you’ll have a more predictable outcome. Consignees set a sale price based on their expertise and market knowledge, so as long as they find a buyer, the item will sell for roughly its market value.
  • Expert Guidance and Evaluation: Consignees are typically experts in their field, offering you valuable advice on pricing, presentation, and marketing to maximize your item’s potential.

Disadvantages of Choosing the Consignment Route

  • Longer Time to Sell: Consignment may take longer to sell your items compared to auctions, which are designed for quick sales.

Tips for a Successful Consignment Experience

Research and choose a consignee with a good reputation, particularly in selling high-end items similar to yours. You can read reviews and ask for references if necessary. As you choose a consignee, don’t forget to discuss commission rates. 

Before you hand over your item, check that you have proper documentation of it. You can also discuss insurance coverage with the consignee in case of loss or damage.

Factors to Consider When Deciding

If you’re selling a high-dollar item, choosing between an auction and consignment is a pivotal decision. The right path will help you maximize the value of your treasures and ensure a successful sale. Your choice should align with your priorities and the nature of your item.

  • The Type and Value of Your Item: Different items may perform better in either auctions or consignment, depending on their rarity, demand, and potential market. Rare or trendy items tend to do better in auctions. A provider who offers both services can tell you which option is better if you’re not sure.
  • How Urgent It Is to Sell: If you need to sell your items quickly, an auction is the better choice. If you have more time to wait for a buyer, consignment could be a better option.
  • Your Preferred Level of Involvement: Consider how hands-on you want to be in the sales process. An auction might require a bit more involvement, while consignment is relatively hands-off.
  • Market Conditions and Trends: Items that were popular with buyers last year may not be as popular today. Market trends can drastically influence the demand and value of some items.
  • Risk Tolerance: Consider your comfort level with the uncertainty of auctions or the longer timeline of consignment. 

The best choice depends on your specific valuables and circumstances. Once you’ve made your decision, you can choose an auction or consignment service provider, and then begin preparing for the sale preparation process.

Auctions and Consignment in Seattle

If you’re ready to take the next step in selling your valuable items, contact Fruitcocktail Collectables. We offer online auctions and consignment services to sellers in the Greater Seattle area. Our team is highly experienced, well-networked, and accredited through the International Society of Appraisers (ISA).

Your treasures deserve the best opportunity to find their next owner and continue their story. Reach out to us today to get started on your journey.