At TMT, we spend all day, every day thinking about the Indian art market in general, and the Antique Indian art market in particular. (It's our job.) We look at what has been selling at shows, how things have been selling at auctions, and anything else that might give us a glimpse into what the market is doing and will do in the future. Some things are by nature unpredictable, but in general, the market as a whole moves in regular patterns. So, as a public service to our clients and followers on social media, here is what we think might happen in the coming year.
1. The market for living artists has never been stronger, and that seems sure to continue. By living artists, we mean those who have proven themselves worth of a serious collector's attention through artistry, quality and longevity. It used to be a truism that artists are their own best salespeople, and that is still true, but the work of artists who do truly great things has done quite well on the secondary market. It is amazing to think that pieces by certain living artists sell for higher prices than pieces of similar quality by deceased artists, but that is exactly the case.
2. We thought that the supply of truly great old pieces couldn't possibly diminish any more, but it did. Woe unto anyone who stakes their happiness on finding a truly great pre-1910 Navajo bracelet for under $6K, for they will remain miserable.
3. The new jewelry wing at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe has been a shot in the arm for the jewelry business, which was already healthy. Social media has also been very good for the high-end industry as a whole, because it has exposed a larger group of potential collectors to true quality. The middle end of the market is still healthy, but it has not shown price appreciation for some time now, and probably will stay that way.
4. The top echelon of turquoise (Lander, Lone Mountain, #8, Bisbee) is still the top echelon, and probably always will be, but the great examples of the next tier (Blue Gem, Morenci, Red Mountain, Burnham/Godber) are doing better and better. Good turquoise of any type is very hard to find, and savvy collectors are happy to find great examples from any of the quality mines. (Of course, this is limited to high quality stones--lousy #8 will go begging, just at a slightly higher price than lousy Morenci.)
More to come....