6.Recirculation and Redistribution


Jewelry is redistributed through family inheritance or resale to other private parties, or a business may buy it back and make it into new jewelry for resale. No person would throw away jewelry, because regardless of its value as property, it has intrinsic value. There are the rare cases where jewelry is accidentally discarded, or impulsively thrown into the ocean after an argument, or buried along with its owner. Barring such exceptions, though, jewelry is recirculated and passed down across generations.

Passing jewelry on to family and friends is common, and throughout history the crowns and tiaras of royalty and nobility have undergone remodeling. Many people have jewelry that has been passed down from mother to daughter, to grandchildren, or to friends. Regardless of actual value, such jewelry is precious because of the memories attached to them. There are many motives for reselling jewelry, such as changes in tastes, a need to liquidate, or to settle an inheritance, but it is wonderful that these pieces end up in the hands of people who want to wear them. The intermediary business redistributes jewelry from one consumer to another. The auction houses of Christie’s and Sotheby’s have served as intermediaries for over two hundred years since the 18th century. A portion of the jewelry sold in auctions is purchased by businesses that remake them into new jewelry and resell them.

Current (as of 1999) yearly sales of jewelry in Japan are approximately 1.5 trillion yen (over US$15 billion). Assuming that one-third of that amount is gemstone-oriented jewelry, and that thirty years worth of such jewelry is in the public’s hands, a simple calculation puts the amount of privately-owned gemstone-oriented jewelry in Japan at about 15 trillion yen (over US$150 billion). Factors such as exchange rates, selling costs, and the condition of the pieces must be considered, but regardless there is jewelry with considerable monetary value in private possession.

Aside from auction houses, businesses such as retail stores dealing with estate jewelry (previously-owned jewelry with value) in the United States or pawnshops in Japan recirculate and redistribute jewelry by serving as buyers and intermediaries. However, there is still no established means for the average person to easily access jewelry that is reentering the market. If an item with high value does not attract a buyer, it will not sell and will not recirculate. Eventually someone in the jewelry business will purchase the piece for the salvage value of its component materials. It is difficult to find the next user for a piece of jewelry because of the many factors involved, such as style preferences, the type of gemstone, whether the size fits, and the condition of the piece.

However, this situation is on the brink of change. Due to the revolution on information technology, the time is quickly approaching when it will be possible for every piece of jewelry to be seen by a cast number of people in different places. The 21st century promises to rapidly improve the opportunity for the redistribution of jewelry from consumer to consumer. Theoretically the scope of this change is global, but development will naturally follow national and territorial lines because of difference in preferences and sizes, as well as income levels. Jewelry owned by individuals generally falls in a range of several thousand dollars. The one-to-one matching of buyer and seller will rapidly increase, and though there may be some variation due to the popularity of pieces, transactions should be finalized more or less at the value of the jewelry. Most likely, the inherent value of jewelry as an asset will become more apparent.

Furthermore, I believe that the 21st century will bring about an era when more people will come to understand the essence of jewelry, and in turn they will purchase finer qualities of jewelry. As people come to understand the factors of beauty of each of the piece of jewelry introduced in Chapter 1, they will gain a deeper understanding and redoubled enjoyment of their own jewelry. As businesses gain a deeper understanding of this situation, we can expect more high-quality jewelry to appear. When redistribution of jewelry becomes more prevalent, people will no longer part with their jewelry just for economic reasons. Instead, it will be for reasons of preference- they have tired of the design, they already have something similar to it, or they want to sell it to get something larger. In this way, we can expect a rapid increase in the free circulation of jewelry.

I hope that the jewelry business achieves an environment in which more attractive jewelry can be produced, bringing a rewarding life if enjoying extraordinarily beautiful jewelry within the reach of more and more people.