There is a variety of investments to choose from, but who really beat the market this year? Apparently, it was the investors who prefer the finer things in life. Luxury assets, such as wine, art, classic cars and beautifully colored diamonds outperformed stocks and bonds in 2018.

“People are looking for a place for their cash, and the security of holding something physical is appealing,” said Anthony Maxwell, director of London-based wine exchange, Liv-ex. “They are looking outside securities, and gold is not what it used to be.”

Those who invested into art at the beginning of the year saw an average gain of 10.6% by the end of November, reports Art Market Research’s Art 100 Index, which WSJ states is the closest thing the industry has to a benchmark.

In November, during an auction at Christie’s New York, David Hockney’s painting of a man in a pink jacket by a swimming pool set a record for a living artist at auction, selling for $90.3 million.

Those investing in wines also witnessed a gain of 10.2% this year, according to the Live-ex 1000 index. Though global stocks declined  in the past quarter, reversing gains earlier in the year. Analysts began to worry over slowing global growth and trade tensions amongst the U.S. and China.

Based on estimates of total return, investors who put money into the S&P 500 at the beginning of the year lost 5.1 percent. Those who sought out refuge in cash equivalents gained 1.9% this year, while those holding gold lost 2.2%.

Although the fall is stocks seems to be a recent trend, analysts claim equity markets may strengthen immensely in the upcoming months. Meanwhile, the trend for luxury investments could reverse.

“Wine is something to drink and enjoy, and art is something to appreciate,” said Robin Creswell, managing principal at Payden & Rygel.  “You might enjoy the updraft of higher prices in beneficial markets but you shouldn’t be surprised if there is a downdraft.”

Andrew Shirley, a partner at global real-estate consulting firm Knight Frank and editor of the group’s Wealth Report said, ““They will always have some sort of market because somebody loves them.” He continued stating, “With a share, there is no sense in owning it for the sake of owning it.”

The market for high-end diamonds remained consistent, gaining 0.4% in value in the first three quarters of 2018, according to Fancy Color Research Foundation in Tel Aviv. Eden Rachminov, chairman of the FCRF, a diamond-industry body,  states that the gemstones assist in diversifying an investment portfolio, while there is nearly no volatility in prices. However, there are risks (as in most investments) involved in holding alternative assets, ranging from regulatory reform to changing tastes.

HAGI’s Top Index reports that luxury-car prices were down slightly in 2018, which also includes rare collectors’ automobiles—a correction, Mr. Hatlapa says, was expected given the rate of which investors poured money into the vintage-car market after the 2008 financial crisis.

“They decided to allocate more to classic cars as part of their portfolio because they couldn’t find returns elsewhere, but there are more alternatives as interest rates normalize,” he added.

Over the past 10 years, cars continued to be the best-performing luxury investment, gaining 289 percent, as  Knight Frank reported earlier this year. Coins increased roughly 182 percent, while wine gained 147 percent. Jewelry also gained 125 percent over the same period. On the other hand, antique furniture and Chinese ceramics lost value.


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