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Jewels: A wearable investment

A four-strand natural colored pearl necklace measuring from 12.65 to 4.90 mm.
Christie's
A four-strand natural colored pearl necklace measuring from 12.65 to 4.90 mm.

Long before Apple Watch entered the market, wearable items have long provided investors with solid-gold returns.

We're talking the original hard asset: fine jewelry. Whether its gold, silver, diamonds or pearls, this investment class continues to shine.

In 2014, auction house Sotheby's surpassed $600 million in jewelry sales, while rival Christie's did a record-breaking $757.7 million over the same period,

According to Rahul Kadakia, international head of Christie's Jewelry, interest remains high for 2015.

"Our upcoming auction on April 14th is comprised of superior quality diamonds, rare colored gemstones and natural pearls that present collectors remarkable opportunities to acquire one-of-a-kind rare jewels."

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Christie's anticipates $40 million in sales next month from standout lots including a four-strand natural colored saltwater, black and grey necklace, one of the very few offered for sale in the past fifty years.

Much scarcer than white pearls, the multi-strand necklace from a European client carries a pre-sale of $3.8 to $4.5 million dollars.

By comparison, The Cowdray Pearl necklace, a single-strand gray pearl necklace sold at Christie's in 2012 for $3.3 million.

Dating back further, The Nina Dyer Black Pearl Necklace, a three-strand black pearl necklace was first sold at Christie's Geneva, in 1969 and subsequently at Christie's Geneva in 1997 for $913,320.

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A pair of multi-colored sapphire and diamond ear clips, by JAR.
Christie's
A pair of multi-colored sapphire and diamond ear clips, by JAR.

Another highlight is a pair of multi-colored sapphire and diamond ear clips by JAR, estimated at $250,000 to $350,000.

Born for Joel Arthur Rosenthal, the Parisian-based jeweler known as JAR, has cultivated a cult following among the one percent. His boutiques never advertise, and sell less than 100 pieces per year, each carrying multi-million dollar price tags.

A JAR bracelet once owned by Ellen Barkin, ex-wife of billionaire deal-maker Ron Perelman, sold at auction for $1.1 million in 2006, more than twice the top-range estimate.

Part of the fun to this asset class, aside from the long-term returns, is this is an investment you literally get to wear and admire every day. And unlike smart watches, jewelry never has to be replaced every few years with new technology.