November 27, 2023

New figures show more and more of us are getting involved in the antiques trade in the hopes of making a quick bit of cash, as it’s thought hundreds of millions of pounds of potential treasure could to be gathering dust in our homes.

Data from Google shows a 110% increase in searches for ‘antique and furniture shops near me’. While figures from Auction House show a 441% increase in the number of 18-24 year olds interested in online auctions.

Made in Chelsea star Mark-Francis Vandelli would describe himself as an antiques expert – and has been sharing his top tips on the lucrative ways you can find a fortune that could be hidden in your furniture.

Mark-Francis Vandelli says glassware is one of the easiest ways to get involved in the antiques trade. Credit: ITV News

His passion for antiques began as a youngster, he told ITV News: “As a child, my parents, rather than leave me at home with the nanny, would take me everywhere with them. And that mostly meant auction houses and antique shops.”

Mark-Francis, who now works with the world-renowned Christie’s Auction House, says antiques are becoming more popular because of their robust build quality and relatively environmentally friendly nature.

Mark-Francis said: “Apart from the fact antiques are much more sustainable in a real sense, things used to generally be a lot better made.

“But something that is historical can generally be restored.”

Mark-Francis says one of the best things about antiques is that things were usually better made in the past – so are likely to last longer. Credit: ITV News

Mark-Francis shares his top 5 tips on spotting a hidden gem at home:

  • Rubbing a pearl against your tooth will allow you to distinguish if it’s real or not. A genuine pearl will always feel slightly gritty, whilst an imitation pearl feels smooth.

  • Use the hot needle test to distinguish real ivory, tortoiseshell and amber from plastic imitations.

  • Check carefully for any labels, inscriptions, stamps or seals that may give an indication of an item’s provenance.

  • Invest in a loupe to check hallmarks on silver and gold in order to date your piece and find out who the maker is.

  • Check auction house sales archives, available online to all. You can find the results of any object or artwork sold in the last twenty years instantly on some websites, which serves as a very good price guide and reference tool.

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