What’s the Difference Between Cels and Sericels?

For fans of animation, collecting artwork from their favorite feature-length or short animated films is a way of bringing their passion for the medium into their homes. Knowing the history of how animation was produced can help you understand the difference between the two primary kinds of animation artwork you’re likely to find on the market—cels and sericels—and why their relative value can vary considerably.

Whats the difference between cels and sericels | Auction King

Prior to the advent of digital technology, animated movies were hand-drawn. The term cel is short for “celluloid,” and refers to the transparent sheets that characters were drawn on to create each frame of a movie. The outline of the character or characters in that frame would be hand-drawn on the front and then the colors painted on the back, and the entire cel shot against a static painted background for the scene. Each frame had to be painstakingly drawn and shot, one at a time. A single animated feature usually required around 100,000 cels.

This type of cel, which was used in the actual production of a movie, is known as a production cel. Studios often sold them off as collectibles after animated films were completed. However, the advent of digital technology eliminated the use of production cels—Disney has not used them since 1990, and other animation studios phased them out over the course of the following fifteen years. The worth of these one-of-a-kind items can vary considerably based on the rarity of the image, the popularity of the film or character it depicts, and the condition of the cel, but it’s not unusual to pay thousands of dollars for one piece.

Major studios recognized that demand for cels—a physical memento of favorite films or animated characters—did not diminish because the process that produced them had been left behind. Cels are still produced in limited editions for collectors. While these cels, created with the needs of aficionados in mind, tend to be more affordable than production cels, they can be quite pricey in their own right, depending on the size of the production run, the degree to which they are hand-drawn and -painted, and if they are signed.

Sericels are the most affordable option for collectors who enjoy the look of cels but do not have an unlimited budget. These images are mechanically produced with silk-screened color, which brings the cost for a collector down significantly. Some sericels are produced solely in limited editions, which can increase their price depending on how restricted the run is. Sericels may also be sold without the background that typically accompanies a limited edition cel.

The key to enjoying a collection of animation art is to know what you’re purchasing before you buy, and to prioritize your personal enjoyment of your collection. For savvy collectors, the lvie online auction at AuctionKing.com offers an opportunity to find animation art at a fraction of the prices you’ll see at commercial galleries. Sign up for a free account and check it out today.

Spotlight on September’s Birthstone: Sapphire

When you’re thinking of blue gemstones, sapphire, September’s birthstone, is the one that is most likely to leap to mind first. And no wonder. Not only has it been used as a precious stone for thousands of years, but it is also second only to diamonds in hardness, which makes it extremely durable.

Spotlight on September's Birthstone: Sapphire | Auction King

Sapphire is a form of the mineral corundum, which is made up of aluminum and oxygen atoms. In its pure form, corundum is clear—in fact, these white sapphires are often used as accent stones in jewelry. Trace amounts of iron and titanium give sapphires their classic hue, which can range from violet blue to greenish blue. Natural sapphires also come in other shades, such as yellow, purple, orange, and green, depending on the trace elements influencing their color.

With a nine on the Mohs scale of hardness, sapphire is suitable for any kind of jewelry, including rings that are worn daily. One of the most famous modern sapphire rings, which has a twelve-carat sapphire surrounded by diamonds, is Princess Diana’s engagement ring, given to her in 1981 by Prince Charles, which Prince William later used when he proposed to Kate Middleton. Sapphires are so tough that synthetic sapphires are used in many industrial applications, such as wristwatch crystals and shatter-resistant windows.

The name “sapphire” comes from the Latin word “sapphirus” and the Greek word “sappheiros,” which both mean “blue.” As you would expect of a stone with such a long history in diverse cultures, sapphire carries many folklore associations. It is believed to bring good fortune and protection from harm, and to promote wisdom and serenity.

The value of individual sapphires is judged on color, clarity, cut, and carats. Color is the most important factor: the purer the blue and the more intense the color, the more valuable the stone. It is not unusual for a sapphire to be heated to intensify its color; sapphires that are unheated, however, will generally be valued higher. The most valuable stones can be more expensive than diamonds on a per-carat basis.

Natural sapphires tend to have some inclusions, but fewer than rubies (another form of corundum). Some sapphires, known as “star sapphires,” exhibit asterism, where needle-like inclusions of rutile (titanium dioxide) throughout the stone reflect light to create the appearance of a luminous star. These are typically cut as cabochons to show off the effect. The cut of a sapphire, star or not, should be chosen to maximize the size of the stone while maintaining good proportions and showing off the best possible color.

Sapphires are found all around the world, in Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. While stones from Kashmir, Sri Lanka, are legendary for their pure blue color, high-quality sapphires can be found from any region.

Auction King regularly features sapphire bracelets, pendants, rings, earrings, and necklaces, including rare fancy sapphires in a range of colors. Their low opening bids and live-auction format give bidders the best opportunity to buy these high-value stones at prices well below retail. Sign up today for a free online account to find the sapphire piece you’ve been looking for!

Are Sports Memorabilia a Good Investment?

The market for collectible sports memorabilia is large and growing. It’s a subject that many feel passionate about, and many collectors choose their purchases based on their favorite sports and players. But do these purchases also make a good investment? They certainly can, but it isn’t necessarily a given that any individual item will go up in value. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

Are Sports Memorabilia a Good Investment | Auction King

The bigger the name, the bigger the value: Signed balls or jerseys from truly famous players will of course fetch more than similar items from players who didn’t establish (or haven’t yet gained) an all-star reputation. It’s okay to take a chance on a rookie item if you accept that the chances of that player turning out to be the next Babe Ruth or Joe Montana are slim.

Supply and demand influence price: If there are few of a particular item on the market, or there is no possibility of creating more, then the price will reflect that scarcity. When a sports figure has flooded the market with autographed pictures, on the other hand, their value will be correspondingly low. Do some research to figure out if what you’re considering purchasing is rare or not before you agree on a price.

Condition is key: As with many other types of collectibles, sports memorabilia should be in excellent condition to fetch top dollar. This is especially true of things like baseball cards, where there may be many examples of a particular card in existence, but almost none in pristine, museum-quality condition.

Tastes change: There is a certain degree of subjectivity in the sports memorabilia market, so you can’t be sure that an item you buy will immediately or smoothly go up in value. If the overall economy is bad, collectors may tighten their belts and forego buying. If a sports figure gets in legal trouble, the value of typical memorabilia associated with them, like game jerseys, may decline. And in general, fads for one sport or another may cause prices to fluctuate in ways that don’t seem to make logical sense. Know that you may have to wait some time to make an advantageous sale on any item you buy.

Deal with reputable sellers only: There is no one central market for sports memorabilia, so you may be talking to any number of auction houses, private sellers, or dealers. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of fakery and fraud in this area, as unscrupulous people try to make a profit off their buyers’ desire to own a piece of history. You should only purchase from reputable sources you trust.

The bottom line is that if you enjoy sports memorabilia, it can be a great way to combine investing with owning a collection you enjoy. To find sports memorabilia items at below-market prices, check out the live online auction at AuctionKing.com. They continually add new items from football, basketball, baseball, and more to their selection. Sign up for a free online account today and start browsing.

Spotlight on August’s Birthstone: Peridot

Peridot’s rich history, along with its beautiful yellow-green brilliance, give it a deserved place of pride among gemstones. Its use as a gemstone dates back thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians, who called it “the gem of the sun,” mined it from the island of Zagarbad in the Mediterranean, one of the few known ancient sources of the gem. Many historians now believe that Cleopatra’s famed collection of emeralds was actually peridots. The stone was frequently mistaken for emeralds in medieval times, before more sophisticated gemological analysis was available.

Spotlight on August's Birthstone Peridot | Auction King

Fortunately for modern aficionados, many sources for peridot exist nowadays, including Arizona, New Mexico, Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam, and China. This gem-quality variety of the mineral olivine is found in igneous rocks and brought to the earth’s surface from deep in the mantle by volcanic activity. It ranges from a pale yellow-green to brownish-green, with a deep olive green considered the most desirable hue. Peridot has also been found in meteorites, although usually not in sizes large enough for use in jewelry.

The origin of the name “peridot” is unclear—while some say that it comes from the Arabic “faridat,” meaning “gem,” others speculate that it comes from the Greek “peridona,” meaning “giving plenty.” The stone has a wealth of meaning attributed to it. It has long been associated with healing properties, protection from evil spirits, abundance, and luck. On Hawaii, peridot is associated with Pele, the goddess of volcanoes.

It’s not hard to see why peridot has been a popular gemstone throughout the ages, nor why many cultures have attached meaning to it. The stone looks beautiful under both natural and artificial lighting, which has given it the nickname “the Evening Emerald.” Readily available, it’s an attractive option for those looking for beautiful green gemstone jewelry at an affordable price point. As with other transparent gemstones, its value increases with the size of the individual stone, lack of visible inclusions, and greater intensity of color. While peridot is often cut in standard faceted shapes from round and oval to marquise and triangle, it can also be made into beads and cabochons as well.

Peridot is a 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which means it is relatively resistant to scratching. However, the stone can be chipped by a careless blow, and is vulnerable to high heat or rapid temperature changes. You should not clean peridot with steam or with an ultrasonic cleaner.

Whether your birthday is in August or not, peridot makes a fine addition to anyone’s jewelry wardrobe. Auction King carries an assortment of peridot earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets, which we regularly update as new finds become available. Our live auctioneers are happy to answer your questions to help you find the exact piece for your taste, and you’ll find your budget goes further when you’re buying at below-market auction prices! Sign up for a free account today to get started.

How to Select Blue Topaz Stones

Blue topaz is one of the most popular colored gemstones on the market today. It’s no wonder—this stone combines beauty, durability, and affordability in one desirable package. If you’re interested in purchasing blue topaz, what should you be looking for?

How to Select Blue Topaz Stones | Auction King

The first thing to know is that topaz is an abundant mineral in nature, but most natural topaz is colorless (or nearly so). To produce a range of blue shades, topaz is generally treated with heat and/or radiation. This is a standard industry practice, and is considered permanent, though you should avoid exposing treated stones to extreme heat. Naturally occurring blue topaz is quite rare, and should you find one for sale, expect the price to reflect its scarcity.

Blue topaz has a Mohs scale hardness of 8, which makes it resistant to scratching and thus suitable for all kinds of jewelry. However, like diamond, topaz exhibits perfect cleavage, so the mineral can be prone to chipping. You may want to consider a bezel setting for blue topaz pieces that would see hard wear, such as rings worn on a daily basis, to avoid damage. It has a high refractive index, which gives it a brilliant sparkle.

Blue topaz stones should be evaluated on the basis of their clarity, color, cut, and carats. Stones should be transparent and free of any visible inclusions, which would reduce the value of the stone significantly. Blue topaz is available in a range of hues, so judging the color is somewhat subjective, although as a rule darker, more saturated colors tend to be more valuable. If you are purchasing a necklace, earrings, or bracelet, you’ll want to be sure that the color of all the stones is well matched.

Blue topaz is available in a full range of standard cuts. Oval, pear, and emerald cuts are all popular, as they tend to take advantage of topaz’s natural crystal shape and to maximize the depth of color. Whatever the cut, it should enhance both the hue and the light-reflecting properties of the stone. You should never purchase a blue topaz that looks dull.

In smaller sizes, blue topaz is fairly inexpensive, but the price rises as the size of the stone increases. However, relative to other blue gemstones such as sapphire and aquamarine, blue topaz is still reasonably affordable in larger sizes.

Auction King regularly features blue topaz pendants, rings, and more in our auction. Feel free to browse our selection and ask us anything you’d like to know about any of the pieces on offer—we pride ourselves not only on our convenient-to-use bidding platform and great deals, but also on our commitment to friendly, responsive customer service. Register for a free online account to start bidding today!

How Much is a Natural Opal Worth?

Opal is the national gemstone of Australia, where the vast majority of the precious variety of this stone is mined. It is known for the striking display of shifting rainbow colors that the finest specimens exhibit, called play-of-color. No two opals are alike, from their base color to the hues found in their play-of-color, which means that determining the value of an individual stone is less straightforward than for other gemstones.

How Much is a Natural Opal Worth - Auction King

Take diamonds, for example. To determine the value of a diamond, you take into account the four Cs—color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Evaluating an individual stone on these primary factors allows you to easily compare it to other diamonds. Opals, on the other hand, should be evaluated not only on the size of the stone and how skillfully it is cut, but on the base color, the stone’s clarity, and the colors and pattern of the play-of-color. Each of these factors will influence the value of the stone.

In general, opals tend to be cut in cabochons, which best display the shifting colors for which it is known. (The exception to this rule is fire opals, which may also be found in faceted cuts.) A jeweler may cut an opal into a free-form shape to best display an unusually striking play-of-color, but in general, symmetrical cabochons that are neither too thin nor too thick are preferred, and will be valued more highly.

The base color of an opal can range from white to black, with a white or light background being most common. Darker stones are preferred, as they tend to show a more vivid and thus more desirable play-of-color. Black opals, which have a jet-black base color, are the most valuable, and can go for thousands of dollars per carat, depending on the other factors affecting a stone’s overall appearance.

Opals can be found with a clarity from transparent to opaque, with greater transparency increasing the value of the stone. Clear opals of any base color are called crystal opals, and are coveted because their transparency makes the play-of-color throughout the stone more visible. Inclusions are evaluated solely on how they affect the overall appearance of the stone.

Many factors are considered in evaluating the play-of-color itself. First, the play-of-color should ideally be centered on the stone and not include any dead spots (i.e., places in the stone that exhibit no play-of-color). It should be bright and visible under any lighting conditions to command the best prices. How many and which colors are included in the play-of-color matter—colors on the warm end of the spectrum are rare, and a more varied display-of-color is better than a limited one. Finally, larger or rare patterns of play-of-color are more valuable than small patterns that may show only pinpricks of color across a stone.

Ultimately, the value of an individual opal is somewhat subjective—the beauty of each opal is unique to that particular stone, because of the geologic processes that form it. To find precious opals at below-market prices, visit the online auction at Auction King. Our live auctioneer can answer any questions you have about individual pieces via our chat module, so you can feel confident you know the characteristics of the necklace or ring you choose before you buy. Sign up for a free account to get started.

How to Get a Rolex for Cheap

Among high-end luxury watches, Rolex is the brand everybody recognizes, even if they don’t know much about watches. With a reputation for reliability, durability, and classic style, it’s no wonder that this has become the go-to luxury purchase for watch collectors or those looking to celebrate a significant career achievement or life event. Of course, with even the least expensive new Rolexes retailing for thousands of dollars, this isn’t a purchase most can make lightly. However, you don’t have to resign yourself to waiting until you can save up the money to pay full sticker price on a brand-new Rolex. If you know where to look, you can get a Rolex for a fraction of the retail price.

How to Get a Rolex for Cheap - Auction King

Rolex built its reputation on precision and durability, crafting its watches to function accurately in the most extreme environments. While Rolex watches come in a variety of different models, the overall iconic style has remained consistent and timeless. Classics like the Oyster, Submariner, and GMT-Master are still manufactured today in versions not radically altered from their initial iterations. This doesn’t just aid in brand recognition; it means even Rolexes that are decades old remain stylish rather than looking dated, and of course their superior workmanship means they still keep time perfectly. Savvy collectors take advantage of these facts to purchase used Rolexes at lower prices than can be found in retail stores.

As with many other kinds of luxury goods, your best odds of finding a good price on a Rolex are at auction. However, you need to be certain that you are buying from a reputable seller. Counterfeit watches are a big business precisely because luxury watches are such a desirable commodity, and Rolex is a prime target for those wishing to dupe unwary purchasers. While there are several ways to help distinguish a real Rolex from a fake, your first step should always be to take care in who you’re buying from.

You’re most likely to find a Rolex at a lower price at an auction that specializes in seized or abandoned goods. This is because these auctions won’t have a reserve, or minimum price, they are trying to meet before they’ll sell their goods. Rolexes are known for retaining or even increasing their value over time, so traditional auctions will set opening bids at a significant fraction of the retail value of the watch, while auctions of seized goods can start with bids as low as one dollar.

Just like a work of art, a Rolex is an investment that brings personal enjoyment to its owner while it appreciates in value over time. If you purchase one wisely, you can have the added satisfaction of knowing you got it at below-market prices. Auction King regularly features Rolex watches, along with other luxury watch brands. With deep experience in the auction business, we offer the convenience of online shopping with attentive customer service, answering all your questions on any piece so you can be satisfied that you are getting exactly what you want. Sign up for a free online account to get started today.

Are Lithographs a Good Investment?

Collecting fine art is a pastime often associated with the fabulously wealthy. This isn’t just an indication that rich people appreciate culture—they have found throughout the centuries that art can be a good investment as well. It is possible for those with more limited resources to purchase artworks as an investment, and lithographs are a popular choice. Are they a good investment? The answer, as with so much in the world of fine art, is “it depends.”

Are Lithographs a Good Investment - Auction King

Lithographs are authorized copies of original works of art. Sometimes these copies are made by the artist; sometimes the copies are made by someone else. In general, print runs of lithographs are kept low to preserve the value of each individual print. While a lithograph will rarely bring as much as the original artwork, they can be quite valuable even while being relatively more affordable. If you are considering buying one, look for these factors to assess the lithograph’s worth and potential for appreciation:

Rarity: The more copies of the same lithograph there are on the market, the less any individual piece will bring. In some cases, the original plate will be destroyed after the print run, ensuring that no future copies of the piece will be made to dilute the value of existing lithographs.

Quality: The quality of the print itself can contribute or detract from the value of a lithograph. Learn what you can about the process used to produce the image, as some lithographs are printed using traditional artisanal methods, which can boost the value of individual prints.

Condition: As with any other kind of artwork, the condition of the piece itself can greatly influence its value. A well-preserved lithograph without marks, dirt, or tears will obviously be worth more than if it is damaged.

Artist: Paradoxically, a famous artist may not be your best choice for purchasing a lithograph for its investment potential. Lithographs by extremely famous artists tend to command top dollar from the outset, which means that there is less potential for growth. You may be better off looking for attractive lithographs from up-and-coming artists—the advantage here is that you’re likely to pay less at the outset.

Authenticity: You’ll want to be sure that the lithograph you purchase is in fact authorized. Many of the signs you’d expect to find on or with an authorized lithograph—a certificate of authenticity, hand numbering, and even an artist’s signature—can be faked, unfortunately, so it is best to purchase your artwork from reputable dealer or auction house you trust.

It’s worth remembering that you should be prepared to hold onto any artwork you purchase for investment potential for a long time. The value of art tends to appreciate slowly, and is subject to the whims of artistic fashion. Your best bet is to choose a high-quality lithograph that appeals to your own taste, so you can enjoy it until you decide to sell. If you’re ready to consider purchasing a lithograph, check out the live online auction at Auction King. We offer below-market prices on fine art every day. Sign up for a free account to get started.

Rolex vs Cartier: Which is Better?

High-end luxury watches are a must-have accessory for both men and women of discriminating taste. Far beyond being simply a method for telling time accurately, such watches are a discreet way of conveying one’s fashion style and elegant taste. Although there are several well-known brands of luxury watches to choose from, two of the most venerable and respected are Rolex and Cartier. If you’re considering buying a luxury watch, you might wonder which of these two is better. The companies’ respective histories and philosophies may help guide you to the watch that is right for you.

Rolex vs Cartier: which is better? | Auction King

Rolex, perhaps the name most associated with luxury watches, was founded in 1905 by Hans Wildorf. His early focus in developing wristwatches was on producing the most accurate possible timekeeping movement, an effort that quickly garnered awards for precision never before bestowed on wristwatches. In 1926, the company produced the first waterproof wristwatch, called the Oyster, and in 1931 it invented and patented a self-winding mechanism. Throughout the years it has introduced innovations to its watch designs to make them suitable for professionals working and adventuring in a variety of extreme environments, from Mount Everest to the Mariana Trench, with an ongoing reputation for accuracy, durability, and enduring style.

Cartier was founded in France in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier to make jewelry and watches. Associated with both royalty and celebrities, the company was called “the jeweler to kings and the king of jewelers” by King Edward VII of England. Cartier designed its first men’s wristwatch, the Santos, in 1904 for Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, who wanted a watch more practical for flying than a pocket watch. The design was a hit, and the company still produces variations on its classic square-bezel look today. The Tank, another long-standing Cartier line, inspired by the mechanized military equipment used on the Western Front in World War I, was introduced in 1917. Cartier is known for a fashionable design sensibility evident in their varied lines of watches.

Both brands offer outstanding timepieces well worth adding to anyone’s collection. However, if a company offering a focus on the quality and innovation of the watch’s mechanism appeals the most to you, then Rolex might be your preference. On the other hand, if you’re most interested in a luxury watch designed with a jeweler’s eye, then you might be leaning toward Cartier. The truth is, it’s hard to go wrong with either of these esteemed companies, so you can safely let your personal aesthetic taste guide you in your ultimate choice.

You can find both Rolex and Cartier watches, as well as many others, up for auction at truly incredible prices at Auction King. Access their live online auction conveniently from the comfort of your own home to view the latest finds in luxury watches, jewelry, and other high-end goods. Auction King’s auctioneers can answer your questions in real time via their chat module to help you get exactly what you’re looking for. Register for a free online account and get started today!

3 Tips for Spotting a Fake Diamond

Whenever you have a highly valuable, coveted gemstone like diamond, you’re going to have fakes. Of course, nobody wants to be fooled into paying top dollar for a cubic zirconium, moissanite, or even glass fake that is being passed off as a real diamond. People are justifiably wary of falling for an imitation, because some counterfeit diamonds look convincingly real. So how can you avoid getting scammed?

3 Tips for Spotting a Fake Diamond | Auction King

Of course, the only way to be 100 percent sure that the stone you have is a real diamond is to have it professionally appraised. Some DIY methods of trying to determine whether or not a diamond is real aren’t easy to carry out if you do not have special equipment or if the stone is already in a setting, and they may damage the stone you’re trying to test. But there are some safe, quick ways you can separate out inauthentic stones before you go to the trouble of seeking out the opinion of a gemologist.

  1. The fog test: Genuine diamonds do not retain heat well. If you breathe on them as if you were trying to fog up a mirror or a pane of glass, any haze you manage to produce on the stone will dissipate quickly. A fake diamond such as moissanite, on the other hand, will build up condensation as you breathe on it. (Make sure the gem is clean before you try this; dirt and oil buildup on the stone can affect your results.)
  1. Examine the setting: It is highly unlikely that a genuine diamond would be mounted in a cheap base metal setting. Check for symbols that indicate the setting is a precious metal, such as 10K or 14K for gold, 925 for sterling silver, or Plat or Pt for platinum. While a precious metal setting is no guarantee that the stone you’re looking at is a diamond, it is much more likely to be a precious or semi-precious gemstone. If the setting has rough edges, an obviously fake finish, wear that exposes dull metal underneath a coating, or is magnetic, then you’ll know it isn’t precious metal.
  1. Look at the edges of the stone: A diamond’s edges will be sharp and exact. An imitation diamond, especially one made of glass or a polymer, is more likely to have dull or worn-down edges. While a sharp edge won’t guarantee you have a real diamond on your hands, a dull edge is likely to indicate that you don’t.

If you’re considering investing in a diamond, taking the trouble to obtain an official appraisal is worth the cost. Of course, reputable sellers regularly provide appraisal reports from gemological laboratories for the diamonds and other fine jewelry available on their site, as we do on ours. This professionalism gives you the confidence that the diamonds you purchase at Auction King’s live online auction are the real deal, even if their below-market prices seem too good to be true. Sign up for a free account today and check out the deals today!