Bidding & Buying at FORTUNA
At FORTUNA, we’re at the forefront of revolutionizing the auction industry. Our unique approach merges the tried-and-true methods of traditional auction houses with the dynamism of modern innovative marketplace models, further enhanced by cutting-edge technology, top talent, streamlined processes, and an unyielding commitment to customer service. Our objective is to provide a superior buying experience marked by comfort, confidence, and convenience.
Our niche as a boutique auction house lies in our exclusive focus on fine jewelry, gemstones, and timepieces. While we offer a wide range of contemporary, vintage, and antique pieces at FORTUNA, our deepest passion undeniably lies with the timeless charm and historical allure of the vintage and antique treasures. Our carefully curated sales feature lots reflecting our discerning standards, sourced from private individuals, estates, and industry professionals from around the world.
Our auctions, held twice a month, cater to varied tastes and budgets. Our ‘Galleria by FORTUNA®’ auctions offer affordable luxury, with most starting bids under USD $5,000. Meanwhile, our ‘Fine Jewels and Watches’ auctions are a treasure trove of high-luxury lots, with prices ranging from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As FORTUNA continues to grow and evolve, we plan to increase our auction frequency, eventually holding weekly auctions. To keep pace with us, subscribe to our email and text message (SMS) alerts, ensuring you never miss an auction.
Now that you have an understanding of our mission and approach at FORTUNA, let’s delve deeper into the mechanics of our operation, and explore the topics that every potential buyer should understand well. The following sections will introduce you to the rigor of our consignment vetting and sales curation process, the meticulous care we put into representing our items, how to set up an account and register to bid at our auctions, key elements of the auction process, and what you can expect after the auction. This guide is designed to prepare you thoroughly for your buying journey with FORTUNA, giving you the confidence to make informed decisions at every step of the way.
The Auction Curation Process
At FORTUNA, we’re committed to setting and upholding the highest standards for our bidders. We understand that the items you purchase at our auctions aren’t just simple goods—they’re investments, sentimental pieces, gifts, and treasures that hold value beyond their price tags. This is why we adopt a meticulous vetting and selection process for our consignments.
This rigorous selection process ensures that every item we offer in our auctions has been carefully vetted and meets FORTUNA’s high standards. As a result, our bidders can trust that they’re investing in pieces of undeniable value and authenticity.
Our team of expert curators assess each piece that comes to us, using their extensive knowledge and skillset to scrutinize each item in the following seven areas:
1 of 7: Authenticity
Authenticity is at the heart of our operations. Every item undergoes rigorous examination to verify its authenticity, ensuring that our customers can bid with confidence.
The piece shown here was sourced from an important estate and came in with no documentation. Our team recognized the style immediately and arranged for the item to be inspected by the world’s foremost authority on Suzanne Belperron, who, after study, provided documentation backing its authenticity. Instead of selling for $5,000 it sold for nearly $140,000 at auction due entirely to its authenticity.
2 of 7: Make, Quality, and Craftsmanship
We take into account the make of an item—whether it’s from a renowned brand, an esteemed craftsman, or an unknown artisan whose work speaks for itself.
We hold our consignments to a high standard of quality. Whether it’s a delicate piece of antique jewelry or a contemporary timepiece, each item must meet our quality criteria.
The beauty of a piece lies in its craftsmanship. We look for exquisite workmanship that reflects the talent and skill of the craftsmen, making each item a unique piece of art.
3 of 7: Documentation
As part of our commitment to transparency and accuracy, we rigorously examine all available documentation for each piece we handle. In cases where necessary documentation is missing or outdated, we ensure its procurement, often facilitating this process on behalf of our consignors to guarantee accurate representation.
A case in point is the stunning Van Cleef & Arpels ring featuring an exceptional 10-plus carat D-color Internally Flawless diamond. This magnificent piece was consigned to us by a distinguished family in California, USA. The family possessed an almost decade-old certificate from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), indicating the diamond’s classification. GIA is the paramount authority on diamond certification and the only lab we trust for such certification.
In our pursuit of accurate representation and fair valuation, we explained the need for a current GIA certificate to the consignor and facilitated the process of obtaining a new one. The updated certificate enabled us to auction the ring confidently for nearly USD $1 million.
4 of 7: Age and Condition
The age of an item often adds to its value and allure. We examine each piece for signs of its age, from stylistic details to material use, ensuring our catalog provides a diverse range of eras for our bidders to explore.
The condition of an item is crucial. We meticulously assess each piece for signs of wear or damage. Even the finest items require careful handling and maintenance over the years.
The bracelet shown here is a prime example of the desirability of well-made jewelry from master craftsman and from an important era. This magnificent Art Deco Cartier Colombian Emerald and Diamond Platinum Bracelet achieved $237,500 at auction and has become a cherished addition to a delighted bidder’s collection. It’s likely that it will be sold again in the future, potentially at an even higher value, demonstrating the enduring appeal and investment potential of well-preserved, high-quality pieces.
5 of 7: Rarity and Market Demand
Rarity and market demand are two significant factors in determining the value of auction pieces. Unique or rare items often carry higher value, especially if they are scarce or unusual creations from renowned makers.
Concurrently, we keep a close pulse on market trends and collectors’ interests, ensuring our sales are stocked with coveted items.
Illustrating the impact of rarity and market demand, we recount the auction of a scarce Cartier Crash watch. This timepiece, birthed in 1967 and reissued as a limited edition of only 400 pieces in 1991, rapidly rose to cult status. Worn by celebrities and watch enthusiasts alike, its scarcity and growing market demand fueled a record-breaking sale at our auction. Estimated at $50,000, the Crash watch fetched an astounding $81,250, testifying to the powerful dynamics of supply and demand. This event underscores that exceptional, in-demand items can achieve remarkable prices at auction.
6 of 7: Provenance and Cultural or Historic Significance
The story behind an item, its provenance, or its cultural or historical significance can have a profound impact on its value. If an item has been previously owned by a notable individual or carries a compelling narrative, it can substantially enhance its allure and worth.
Similarly, items of cultural or historical significance—whether they were crafted during a distinctive historical period, mirror the art or culture of a specific era or location, or were part of significant historical events—can command higher values.
The pair of vintage Rolex watches displayed here exemplify the powerful influence of provenance. The ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona Ref. 6239 in Steel, and the Daytona Ref. 6239 may share the same reference number and are nearly identical, but their auction outcomes were remarkably different—one fetched $275,000, nearly eight times more than the other at $40,625.
The crucial distinguishing factor is that the first watch, positioned horizontally in the image, embodies the same features (colors, etc.) as the famed watch worn by Paul Newman, which fetched almost $18 million at auction years ago. The scarcity of these watches and the desire among collectors to possess a timepiece identical to Newman’s has driven their value significantly higher. This stark contrast in value demonstrates how provenance and cultural or historical significance can dramatically amplify the worth of an item.
7 of 7: Price
Price is a critical, yet often misunderstood, factor in our consignment selection process. Unlike retail, where the price is a fixed value determined by the seller, the pricing in an auction house setting is a more nuanced matter. Our aim is to strike a fair balance for both the consignor and the bidder.
Indeed, the agreed price can often be the deciding factor in whether we accept or reject a consignment. If we cannot settle on a fair valuation of the item for consignment, we will respectfully decline. Rest assured, each item in our auction has undergone thorough price consideration and negotiation before consignment.
Our goal is to establish a price that encourages multiple bidders to participate, without permitting overpayment—for example, paying more than what a regular retailer might charge for a similar item.
The group lot depicted here illustrates the importance of correct pricing. The consignor initially intended to consign the lot with a reserve of $10,000. We agreed that the lot was potentially worth considerably more than $10,000 but requested a lower reserve and starting bid. This enabled several bidders to participate, with one lucky bidder becoming the proud owner of this collection of vintage Chanel jewelry. The fortunate bidder can now enjoy these pieces for years to come and may even sell them for a higher price in the future as the market demand for vintage fashion costume jewelry continues to surge. This satisfying outcome—for the bidder, the consignor, and FORTUNA—is the result of prudent pricing.
At FORTUNA, we deeply value the trust our buyers place in us, and we are unwavering in our commitment to represent each lot with integrity, accuracy, and industry-leading quality. We understand the leap of faith required when purchasing items unseen—our clients hail from more than 100 countries, with most never viewing the jewelry or watches in person before completing their purchase. Our commitment to exceptional and honest representation has enabled us to build a legacy of satisfied customers worldwide. To accomplish this, we’ve maintained a strong focus on three key areas:
1. Excellence in Photography
Our photography has a reputation that even the largest houses in the business strive to match. We take immense pride in the quality and beauty of our photographs, but even more so in their accuracy. We ensure our photos not only showcase the items in their best light but also accurately reflect the true colors, materials, and fine details of each piece. We consistently hear from our clients that our photographs were spot on and that’s what we want to hear every time.
At FORTUNA, we conduct all our photography in-house. We do not outsource this critical function as most houses do. Our photography studio is just a room away from our specialist workspace, fostering constant collaboration and communication between the teams. Whether it’s verifying a color representation, identifying a missed hallmark, or modeling jewelry appropriately, we work collectively to capture every detail. Plus, our in-house models are experienced professionals who work with major brands throughout New York City.
2. Meticulous Catalog Descriptions
The accuracy and thoroughness of our catalog descriptions are paramount to our reputation. Our team of dedicated specialists—with decades of experience and a deep passion for jewelry and watches—examine each item meticulously, covering the breadth of aspects discussed in the previous section: Authenticity, Maker, Quality and Craftsmanship, Documentation, Age and Condition, Rarity and Market Demand, Provenance and Cultural or Historic Significance.
Each piece is evaluated and its descriptions meticulously composed by true experts in the field. We maintain separate specialists for jewelry and watches, as we believe in the importance of in-depth expertise in these distinct areas. This approach ensures that our buyers receive detailed, accurate, and trustworthy information—allowing them to bid with confidence.
3. Quality Control and Assurance
At FORTUNA, quality is at the heart of everything we do. From photography to catalog descriptions and post-auction logistics, each phase of our operation is rigorously scrutinized to ensure optimal representation and satisfaction for our clients. This relentless focus on quality assurance is what sets FORTUNA apart, ensuring an exceptional experience for our clients and reinforcing our position as a trusted leader in fine jewelry and watch auctions.
Getting Started – Creating an Account and Registering to Bid
Embarking on your buying journey with FORTUNA begins with setting up an account with us. Once your account is established, you will need to register for each auction in which you want to participate. We’ve designed the process to be as simple as possible, and if you need assistance at any time, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Here is your brief guide to getting started, including the four (4) steps you need to take:
Step 1: Set up an Account
The very first thing you need to do to get started is set up an account online with us. To do this, simply click the red button labeled “Create Account” (located on the right if you’re on the computer; located below if you’re on a mobile device such as a phone or tablet).
Step 2: Register to Bid
Once you have an account with FORTUNA, you need to register for each auction you wish to bid in. This is where you receive your paddle number. While sitting in a crowded room and bidding by holding up your physical bidder paddle is no longer unnecessary with modern technology, paddle numbers are still assigned to each registered auction bidder as means to assign a unique identification number to record bidding activity and keep our bidders anonymous during the auction. To do this, simply click the red button labeled “Register To Bid” (located on the right if you’re on the computer; located below if you’re on a mobile device such as a phone or tablet).
As an additional option, we also offer phone bidding. If you prefer to make real-time decisions and engage directly with our team during live auctions, phone bidding may be a great fit for you. To begin the phone bidding registration process, you can fill out a form on our website. The flexibility of our bidding process is designed to cater to your unique needs and provide you with a personalized auction experience. To do this, simply click the red button labeled “Sign Up To Phone Bid” (located on the right if you’re on the computer; located below if you’re on a mobile device such as a phone or tablet).
Step 3: Registration Approval
After submitting your registration, it’ll be reviewed and either approved or denied. In almost all cases, it’s an immediate approval.
Step 4: Begin Bidding
Upon registration approval, you’ll receive a paddle number and you can start bidding immediately. FORTUNA’s platform allows you to watch lots that you like, share lots with others, place bids, and even set an “absentee” or “max bid” which allows the platform to automatically bid on your behalf up to your specified amount if and when another bidder outbids you. In addition, if you are outbid, FORTUNA’s platform will automatically inform you via the email you used to set up your account. Please note, bids cannot be retracted or reduced once placed.
You may find it more convenient to download our free mobile app, log in to your account, and browse and bid there. You can find the app by searching the app store on your device for “Fortuna Auction”.
If you need assistance at any time, feel free to reach us at bids@FortunaAuction.com or call us at (212) 389-9040. You can also contact us on WhatsApp at +1 212-389-9040.
CREATE ACCOUNT & REGISTER
Click the buttons below to create an account and register to bid in an open/upcoming auction. Remember, after you create an account, expect an email from us within moments, which will give you guidance on next steps and additional info/tips.
Here’s a YouTube video which explains the process of signing up, registering, and bidding online—whether through our mobile app or on a web browser on your mobile device or computer:
Key Elements of the Auction Process
We’ve already introduced you to the two auction themes at FORTUNA—the “Galleria by FORTUNA” auctions and the “Fine Jewels and Watches” auctions. Now let’s discuss a few key elements to be aware of when bidding.
Reserves and Starting Bids
Nearly all of the lots that FORTUNA offers have a reserve price. The reserve price represents the minimum price for which a lot can be sold. Each reserve price has been pre-negotiated with the consignor (the seller) long before the auction. In some cases, FORTUNA may decide to start bidding below the reserve price to encourage bidding activity. We typically do this when we feel that a lot is priced appropriately but not quite attractively enough to garner a lot of attention. In such cases, if a lot has bidding activity during the pre-bidding phase of the sale and has not yet met the reserve, FORTUNA will often present the situation to the consignor and seek an adjustment to the reserve price.
All of our auctions are held in a “timed, then live” format. This means that, as soon as the lots are uploaded online, you can begin bidding. This initial phase of bidding is called “pre-bidding” and is done during the timed portion of each auction. Depending on your bidding strategy and/or style, this may be something you’re interested in. As the day of the live auction approaches, bidders have a chance to get in early and bid against one another before the live auction starts.
During the Live Sale
On the day of the live sale, FORTUNA’s licensed professional auctioneer will open each lot one by one, read off the pre-bidding history if any, and entertain additional live bids if there are any. If a lot has bids exceeding the reserve price, the auctioneer will sell the lot to the winning bidder, dropping the gavel (the hammer) to make each sale official.
Bidding Guidelines and Conditions of Sale
Please remember that once you have placed a bid on FORTUNA’s platform, it cannot be retracted or reduced.
We encourage all potential bidders to consult our Conditions of Sale for comprehensive details. By placing a bid, you acknowledge that you have read and are bound by these conditions.
Please be aware that all lots are sold “As Is”. We do not guarantee that the lot is in pristine condition or devoid of imperfections, or wear and tear that is consistent with the age of the item. It falls under the buyer’s responsibility to inspect the lot or request additional photos and condition details prior to bidding.
After the Auction
Once an auction has concluded, expect the following:
Invoices, Buyer’s Premium, and Tax
If you are a winning bidder, you will be emailed an invoice—at the email you provided when you signed up for your account and/or registered to bid—within a few hours of the conclusion of the auction.
A buyer’s premium of 25% (30% if bidding on LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable, and Bidsquare) is applicable to all winning bids and is not included in the bid you leave (e.g., if you leave a bid of $1,000, be aware that an additional $250 will be added on top of the $1,000 on your invoice for buyer’s premium).
We collect sales tax for lots shipped to the following states within the US: CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, MA, MD, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, and VA.
VAT and duties may apply for international buyers, depending on the country which we are shipping to.
Post-Auction Support Services
As a full-service auction house, we take pride in the comprehensive range of post-auction services we offer, including ring resizing, stone replacement, and repair work. It’s part of our commitment to ensure a seamless transaction and to cater to your needs even after the gavel falls. However, please note that the applicability of certain services may vary depending on the specifics of the lot. If you have any questions or need additional information such as a cost estimate, we encourage you to reach out to us.
We have customers in over 100 countries. We provide fully insured global shipping, expertly arranged by our team. The shipping costs, determined based on the insured value of the package and its destination, will be calculated post-auction and added to your invoice. Please note, VAT, duties, or any additional charges related to international shipping are not included in these costs and remain the responsibility of the buyer.