Artful Investing

Turn Your Interest Into Investments

Financially, you're at a crossroads. You've contributed the maximum to your retirement account; you hold a diversified portfolio of investments and have emergency savings. What should you do with the remaining $2,500 that you find in the kitty? It's time to spice up your financial life and invest in profitable places where you can see your money grow, and possibly make a long-term difference in your life. Consider these off-beat investment areas as places to stash your cash.

If you delight in flea market discoveries of coveted, semi-precious stone pendants designed by once unknown Van Cleef & Arpel or Cartier artisans, or your extensive search for a Gordon Parks vintage print from the Civil Rights era is finally unearthed at the local auction house photography preview, you are a prime candidate for the title of "collector."

You can set your sights on non-traditional investing in areas like jewelry, wine, paintings and photography. These are good starting points; only now your passion, knowledge and acumen will dictate the buy for investment purposes. Keep in mind that a desire to invest in any art form should stem from a passion within, rather than from a desire to see generous profits. Always purchase from the heart since these are investments that you will be living with.

As with all investments there are risks; knowing your future field of acquisition thoroughly is a must. Otherwise, how will you know a good investment?

Remember, knowledge is power, and in this instance, it can translate into profit. It pays to know what you are buying!

Baubles, Bangles and Beads

Owning beautiful jewels does not have to cost a fortune, and there are many ways to become an astute jewelry collector. Begin with educating yourself about what specifically you want to buy. This means reading books, lots of legwork at antique stores and flea markets and countless visits to auction houses where specialists are excited to discuss their passion with new collectors. If you have a favorite period of jewelry design, such as Art Nouveau or Victorian, study those period pieces extensively so that your eye is trained to notice specific details and craftsmanship. Learn what makes jewelry valuable. Precious metals, exquisite gems, stone quality and the skills of the artisan all translate into beautiful and innovative design equaling a solid investment. When you discover what gems and designs make your heart flutter, start your hunt at flea markets, study and compare, and when you are ready, visit the auction houses to fine tune your newfound knowledge with your investment in tow for a proper appraisal and critique. With a $2,000 investment the sky is the limit!

Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir

Wine Futures or En Primeur is the concept of investing in or buying wine after it is made and before it is bottled. Known as selling wine years prior to its maturity and release date onto the market, purchasing wines En Primeur offers investors a higher return on their investment and is less expensive than the cost when released onto the market. Keep in mind that investing in quality wines is similar to investing in blue chip stocks, and like blue chips, they typically hold their value.

A few tips on investing in wine:
Learn how vintages are produced: climate, soil, vine heritage and the skill of the vintner. These steps will provide you with a better sense of how wine ages and, as they become older, why their prices increase.
Befriend a sommelier~ his or her wine expertise will be a tremendous asset to your learning curve.

Research the best vineyards worldwide ~ this will help you discover what vintages are solid investments. Also, join the mailing list for smaller vineyards and plan a trip to visit. Smaller winemakers may enjoy taking new collectors into their fold and will help with your education process.

Photo Shopping

Fine photographs are stunning works of art and often undervalued. Unlike the demand for paintings, the photography market tends to be cyclical and, like all art markets, sometimes hits a lull. A dull photography market is always good news for investors since these works will ultimately increase in value again. New collectors can start with as little as $500 - $2,500, particularly in the areas that are becoming increasingly popular such as collecting civil rights images from the 1960's and 70's and the work of ultra-hip photojournalists like VII who deliver poignant images, creatively shot from around the world that have come to define the first decade of the 21st century. Also, prints of images printed by the photographer at the same time the negative was made tend to be valuable and in demand. Again, auction houses are one of your best educational resources when learning about photographs; photography gallery staffs are also extremely welcoming. They know once you become a collector, you become a client. It is in the best interests of galleries, auction houses and private dealers to help with your education.

Drawings and Watercolors

With $1,000-2,500 to spend, you can still consider investing in watercolors or drawings ~ collecting smaller will eventually provide you with a smooth entrÈe into the world of painting. Collecting drawings, watercolors and paintings definitely requires you to put in the time to learn about the artist and his or her body of artwork. Younger artists are always great places to start; not only will you find bargains, but you are helping to build the career of an artist who may one day surpass all expectations - it happens often. You have to be tenacious and dedicated to learning about the artists that interest you and studying the mediums in which they work.

Gallery owners, managers and dealers are people you want to meet and talk to. They will act as your guides into the vast world of collecting. Attend opening receptions of artists whose works you like, monitor prices and attend as many auctions as possible selling the works of these artists.

Purchase catalogues, meet the artist and develop a relationship, then schedule a time to visit his or her studio. You will be surprised to see how the works hung in galleries differ from the works found in the artist's studio. Often, you will find pieces in the studio that you'll want to purchase; artists may sell these works if they are available and not promised to another collector, dealer or gallery. Galleries, dealers and artists can often arrange payment plans so that you will not lose out on a piece that you love but are unable to afford.

Collecting for fun and investment should stem from a passionate interest, so always be excited by your acquisitions; financial gain is sometimes elusive but part of your return on an investment is the joy of the art you own.

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