ABC Empressa Interview with
CIRCA President Richard Tilles

President, Richard Tilles, talks to ABC about purchasing fine jewelry and watches around the world. Full article below.



“You learn a big lesson when someone sells you a fake”

– Richard Tilles, President of CIRCA the world leader in the purchase
of luxury jewelry and watches from private individual.


Richard Tilles welcomes you in an office that locates in Madison Avenue in New York City – in the nerve centre of the global luxury world. In the same area – besides CIRCA, the jewelry and watches company that his presides – you will find the best fashion, jewelry and accessories stores. CIRCA also sells jewels and luxury watches but, especially, buys from private individual. CIRCA is a world leader in this market, with twelve offices around the world – including two in Spain, Madrid and Barcelona.


Tilles, very experimented in the diamond market in New York City, found the perfect spot in the luxury jewelry market. “If someone wanted to sell his jewels, he went to an auction house, a pawnshop or to his family jeweler”. Tilles explains. “There was no company that bought diamonds or luxury jewelry from individual”. It was 2000 when Tilles and two other partners created CIRCA. First, they wanted to base their business in online trading – due to the digital era that we were living at that moment. After that, they acknowledged that they would have to add some locations to their business, focusing on luxury and high jewelry.


What kind of service do your clients look for?

Our buyers are normally diamonds jewelry and watch collectors or stores that need an unique piece for their inventory. And sellers are… almost everyone. It might be someone who has been divorced, a jeweler that wants to get rid of his stock, a person who inheritances… or just someone who does not wear his jewel anymore. Maybe he enjoyed this piece 20 years ago, but not anymore.


Like gold, is diamond a wealth reserve?

This is an interesting question. Historically, it has been like that because it has the advantage that it can move wealth transnationally, accumulate a lot of value in a small space; unlike gold, that needs more space.


Do you think current economical circumstances have an impact on the diamond market?

There will be always people that uses this as wealth reserve. But… are we seeing an increasement on values? No, in fact, these three or four years, market has been quite stable despite the economical news. But these are commodities questions and we work with the luxury market. We buy quality pieces from the best makers like Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany. They have more value that their inherent value.


This value also ebbs and flow?

There are some trends that comes and goes. Some things that are in and some things that are out. Some things that you want to wear so bad one day and then you feel different as time passes by. Some people thing that pieces from some years ago are démodé but pieces from sixty or fifty years ago are now very in. There is a big market with pieces that were made in the late sixties and on the first seventies unlike the pieces like, for example, made in the nineties. We are always talking about this first makers, of course.


What is the difference between CIRCA and other jewelry stores that purchase?

We want to be present in big markets, where the best clients are, and we always give the best offer we can when the piece is interesting. We offer a high level of transparency: we make an offer, document that offer and we give the client the possibility to think about that offer. We work in a different way than other companies, where they put the client under a lot of pressure for closing the deal immediately. We do not do that. We understand what every client need, for example, talk with their relatives in order to say yes to the offer.


It is surprising that your only two European offices are in Spain…

Usually we open a new office considering the local talent we found. And we have found a very good talent in Spain – professionals that are very enthusiastic about the jewelry market, both in Madrid and Barcelona.


What are the trends in the watch market?

It is happening something very curious nowadays, collectors are really interested in “vintage” watches. We have seen how pieces from the late fifties and early sixties are now the most wanted. Especially if we talk about Rolex, but it affects to other makers like Patek Philippe, Tag Heuer, Omega, Tudor…


How do you identify the authenticity of the jewels and watches?

All our buyers are exceptional experts and they have the perfect knowledge to decide if the piece that they are seeing is an original or not. They all have a lot of experience in the jewelry and watch market, but it is true that there are good fakes and it is not easy to determinate when something is fake and when it is not. Sometimes you must double work to double check.


Have you ever bought, by mistake, something fake?

Yes, and we assume the loss. But you learn a big lesson.


Is CIRCA going to keep expanding internationally?

Yes, there will be new openings in new locations, we will announce this when the right time comes, but we will be probably opening in new regions.


How do you assess the results of your presence in Spain?

“We are doing quite well. Spain keeps providing us with good pieces for our market. There is a lot of richness there. Our clients bring us antique and quality pieces, big diamonds and vintage watches – we have discovered in Spain a great market for vintage watches.”