The collector who purchased this ring for $7,500 in August 2017 thought he could sell it for a sizeable profit just eight months later in May 2018. He was wrong.
We’ll take a look at several Elvis rings in this post — ones that exemplify the risks of short-term speculating on them. First, here is the description of the above ring on the website for the August 12, 2017, Graceland Auction.
Diamond and Black Star Sapphire Ring:
The shimmering rays of the star effect in the star sapphire is called asterism, from the Latin word astrum, or “star.” Black star sapphires owe their stars to the included crystals of the shiny, dark mineral hematite. The unusual design of this 14-karat yellow gold, diamond and black star sapphire ring has a “Star Trek” flair.
Star sapphires were a favorite of Elvis’ and he was as known for wearing them as often as he gifted them to friends and family. This ring has an oval black star sapphire being held by two rays of diamonds atop a textured gold high-set band. The interior of the band is marked “14k”. The black sapphire measures 7.5 by 5.9 mm; the ring weighs 8 grams and contains 6 small diamonds.
This ring, size 6 1/4, emanates from Charlie Hodge and was purchased by the consignor in the early 1980s along with 11 additional rings. Elvis gave Charlie all 12 rings simultaneously in the same box in which Elvis had kept them. There are several photos of Elvis from the filming of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is that show him wearing a small ring on his pinky finger that strongly resembles the offered ring.
The ring had a minimum bid of $5,000, and the winning bid was $6,000. However, the winning bidder actually had to pay $7,500 because the standard 25% buyer’s premium was added.
The last thing on the Graceland Auction website was this:
The ring, gifted by Elvis to Charlie Hodge, is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.
So, if I had owned this ring and needed to sell it, I too would have placed it on Graceland Auctions. They always do such a nice job with their detailed and interesting descriptions, plus a nice assortment of high-quality photos.
And I would also have made the investment required to get the Letter of Authenticity (with pictures) from Graceland Authenticated. While that would have cost me 10% of the fair market value of the ring, I believe that will be more than covered by the increase in value it produces.
To summarize, I’ve been following auctions of Elvis items for years, and I truly believe the Graceland Auctions gets the best results for people wanting to sell their Elvis memorabilia.
I also believe that folks who buy top-tier items through the Graceland Auctions have acquired something that will appreciate over the years. Here is a quote from Glenn Johnson who owns about 1,000 Elvis items at an estimated value of $4.5 million.
“A lot of people say the value of Elvis items will go down once his older fans are gone. I look at other historical figures and cultural icons from 100+ years ago. Their original fans are gone obviously, but yet their collectibles are fetching outrageous prices (ie Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, any early presidents). I say Elvis is here to stay.”
Glenn is certainly not the only Elvis collector who expects their collection to become more valuable as time goes by. However, would they think of trying to “flip” a new purchase in just eight months? I doubt it.
However, somebody did just that, as we saw above.
Same ring. But, just the one photo that’s shown at the top of this post. Just a five-line item description.
That’s not going to juice up bidders much. And I’m not sure what kind of bidder base is attracted to an auction with more Britney Spears and Kiss stuff than Elvis.
But the best predictor of a bust when trying to flip an Elvis ring is simply the math of the whole thing. Bear with me please. Say the guy that bought the black star sapphire ring at Graceland for $7,500 wanted to make $1,000 profit. The hammer price (when the auctioneer slams the gavel down and says “Sold.”) would have to be $8,500 or more. Let’s go with that.
When that winning bidder pays up, he would have to cover that 25% buyer’s premium, bringing it up to $10, 625. But, wait, there’s more. Julien’s has another charge – 3% for on-line bids. That brings it up to $10,880. Nearly $11,000 for a ring that sold for $7,500 just eight months earlier. No, thanks.
Here are three more Elvis rings that sold on Graceland Auctions and did manage to sell on Julien’s – but at a loss.
Tiger’s Eye Ring:
(From the Graceland Auction website): Elvis loved jewelry and often his spirituality affected the gems he chose. Tiger’s eye was one stone that Elvis favored, perhaps because it is believed to bring harmony, balance and protection as well as enhance good luck. This simple and classic 10-karat yellow gold men’s ring, weighing 9 grams, has a single central oval-shaped tiger’s eye stone measuring 17 by 12 mm. The ring, size 10, was gifted by Elvis to Pat West, wife of Red and secretary to Elvis. The ring comes with a letter from Jimmy Velvet and Bobby (Red) West on Elvis Presley Museum certificate stock and states in part, “This large cat’s eye ring was worn by Elvis Presley. It was given to Pat West by Elvis while Pat was his secretary.” As further provenance, additional documents include a copy of a letter, dated December 15, 1983 on Elvis Presley Museum letterhead. This charming ring with impeccable provenance documentation is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.
The ring sold at Graceland Auction for $10,000 including the 25% buyer’s fee. It sold at Julien’s for a hammer price of $8,000. This attempt to flip an Elvis ring resulted in a $2,000 loss.
Diamond and Garnet “Swami” Ring;
(From Graceland Auction website): This noble ring, in the form of a maharaja with diamond eyes and a large garnet centered on the front of his turban, is fit for a King—so what better person to own such a bauble than the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself, especially since the term “maharaja” means great ruler or king. The ring is marked 14k yellow gold and has stylized shoulders that accentuate the bearded and bejeweled turbaned head. The diamond eyes each weight 0.01 carat and measure 1.2 mm and the ring measures size 9 1/4. The ring, with a total weight of 27.3 grams, is offered with a detailed letter from the consignor that states in part:
“One of the items I picked up from Tom Hulett at this time was Elvis’ Turban Ring or Swami Ring. He told me at one point after wearing it amongst some other rings, Elvis took it off his hand and told Tom to try it on. Tom mentioned something about it being a kind of unusual ring while he put it on one of his fingers, and Elvis told him to just keep it. Much later on I found out that this might be one of the rings Elvis is wearing in the photos where he is wearing a turban, the long red coat with black accents, and the Ram Head necklace.”
The ring is also accompanied by a letter from Graceland Authenticated.
The ring sold at Graceland Auction for $12,500 including the 25% buyer’s fee. It sold at Julien’s for a hammer price of $10,000. This attempt to flip an Elvis ring resulted in a $2,500 loss.
Gold and Gray Star Sapphire Ring:
(From Graceland Auction website): Elvis was fond of jewelry featuring the star sapphire, which emanates rays from the center as light is shone on the stone. Elvis would often wear star sapphire rings and would as frequently gift them to family and friends. Perhaps his fascination stemmed from the special significance of sapphires in numerology, of which Elvis was an enthusiast. The offered gray star sapphire is set in a 14-karat gold “birds nest” setting, adding to its allure. The men’s ring, measuring size 10 1/2, is marked 14k and comes with a letter from Sam Thompson which states in part,
“During this time, in December of 1976, and while talking with Elvis upstairs at Graceland, Elvis called me into his dressing area of his bedroom and asked what size ring I wore. I told him I didn’t know and he told me to hold out my hand and he handed me a ring he removed from his own hand for me to try on. It fit on my pinky finger and he smiled and said it was his gift to me. The ring is nugget style, 14K yellow gold, with a gray star sapphire, and about a size 10 1/2. It has been in my possession since that day in 1976.”
This stunning gift from Elvis to Sam is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.
The ring sold at Graceland Auction for $8,750 including the 25% buyer’s fee. It sold at Julien’s for a hammer price of $8,000. This attempt to flip an Elvis ring resulted in a $750 loss.
So, we have a total loss on the three Elvis rings of $5,250!! Ouch.
Julien’s Auction in May 2018 did have a few spectacular results, including this ring.
Fifty-Diamond Star Ring:
A hundred grand for an Elvis ring!! In spite of the fact that the picture used obviously is not the best one to show off this stunning ring. The item detail does a better job.
“A diamond star-shaped ring given by Elvis Presley to a concert-goer Donna Lewis on July 24, 1975, during a performance at the Civic Center in Asheville, North Carolina.
“The ring is designed in 14K white gold, topped with 50 full-cut round diamonds totaling approximately 6.00 cts. and graded H-I color and VS-SI clarity, size 7 1/2. 25.4 grams.
“Accompanying the ring is a photograph of Lewis and Presley at the moment he gave her the ring; an image of Presley wearing the ring; an affidavit from Lewis; and two images of Presley with a thank-you card given to him at a concert on March 18, 1976, in Johnson City, Tennessee.”
I wonder what kind of price this fabulous ring would have brought at a Graceland Auctions with lots of great pictures, extensive description, and an all-Elvis bidder base.
Photos and text used by permission, copyright 2018 GracelandAuctions.com
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