By Brecken Branstrator
Most major auction houses have postponed their spring sales including Phillips, which was scheduled to have an auction in Geneva in May. The sale was slated to feature these four watches from the private collection of Jean-Claude Biver.
New York—The spread of the coronavirus has forced the closure of businesses worldwide as governments and communities work to curb the number of cases.

For the jewelry industry, this has led to the postponement or cancelation of a growing number of annual events and trade shows as well as retailers, manufacturers and suppliers ceasing operations until further notice.

It has also meant a retooling of calendars for auction houses, most of which had big sales scheduled for the spring.

Here’s what’s happening with seven of the larger auction houses—how scheduled sales have been affected, which offices are closed and more.

Christie’s has rescheduled its sales in Geneva and New York slated for the spring.

The house’s 20th Century Week in New York, planned for May 12 to 15, will now be held from June 23 to 26.

Geneva Luxury Week, scheduled for May 10 to 13, has been postponed until June 29 to July 1, and New York Classic Week has been moved from April 21 to 24 to June 8 to 12.

The following online sales will continue as planned: “Australian Art,” March 12 to 19; “Prints & Multiples,” March 18; and “Chieveley House, Berkshire and Five Private Collections,” March 19.

Meanwhile, all Christie’s offices and sales sites in the Americas, Europe and Middle East are closed with all employee teams working remotely.

Christie’s Hong Kong office has returned to normal open business hours, while Christie’s Beijing and Shanghai offices are operating with reduced staff on-site and remote working arrangements where necessary.

Seoul also is open with reduced hours and continued remote working arrangements for now; Tokyo is open with reduced staff on-site and limited hours.

Christie’s Bangkok and Jakarta offices are open to clients by appointment only.

Sotheby’s said it will make final decisions about each spring event approximately 30 days prior to the sale date and then alert all relevant parties.

The auction house has outlined the sales through March 31 on its website that will continue as scheduled, including the Fine Jewels sale in London March 24, though that is restricted to online and telephone bidding only.

It also highlighted events that have been postponed, including the Magnificent Jewels and Important Watches auctions slated for Hong Kong next month.

All online sales will continue as scheduled for now.

Sotheby’s also noted it’s technologically equipped to operate “in a variety of scenarios” and is considering “a number of formats to provide for sales to proceed in the most effective manner.”

All Sotheby’s offices are closed to the public except for London and Hong Kong, which are by-appointment only.

Phillips has postponed all sales and events in the Americas and Europe until mid-May, including “The Geneva Watch Auction: Eleven,” which was scheduled for May 9 and 10 and included watches from the private collection of well-known watch industry executive Jean-Claude Biver.

As of right now, the Hong Kong auctions scheduled for May 31 to June 2 will proceed as planned.

Phillips also noted it has arranged for most of its staff to work from home, offering customer service and help via phone and online.

Bonhams has postponed all auctions slated to take place from now until April 21, effective immediately.

All the house’s offices are closed as are the salesrooms in the U.K., New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, but Bonhams, like the others, remains open and accessible via its website.

It said it’s constantly monitoring the situation regarding auctions after April 21 and will provide updates accordingly.

Doyle has temporarily closed its offices and warehouses.

The staff will be available through online and social channels, and Doyle will host online-only auctions at, including the rollout of a series in new collecting categories.

Heritage Auctions
Heritage is operating normally but has postponed its signature fine jewelry auction, which was scheduled to take place May 3 and 4 in New York, until Sept. 28.

The auction house is increasing the marketing behind “Friday Night Jewels,” a curated online auction series showcasing a range of jewelry with estimates between $2,000 and $10,000.

The Friday Night jewelry auctions are scheduled for May 1, June 5, July 3 and August 7.

Fortuna auction house said it will keep to the auction schedule set at the beginning of the year, with its April auctions still taking place as planned online; Important Watches and Important Jewels are both slated for April 30. Bidding will take place through its website and mobile app.

The house’s New York office is closed, in compliance with the guidelines set by the state, but the staff is working remotely, accepting jewelry for future auctions, providing appraisals and offering jewelry and watches for online bidding.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on March 25 to add Fortuna auction house’s operation plans during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Get the Daily News >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.