Huanghuali Furniture Creates New Craze

huanghualiHuanghuali, a rare species of rosewood, has become a favorite for Chinese antique furniture collectors. A huanghuali chair from Ming dynasty was auctioned at 62 million yuan ($9.3 million) on Dec 12, setting new record for its category. But experts warned that antique furniture has risks for both collectors and investors.

During the China Guardian 2010 Autumn Auction, 61 pieces of antique huanghuali furniture were sold with total price of 260 million yuan on Nov 21. An antique bed from the Ming Dynasty was sold at 43.12 million yuan after 36 rounds of bidding.

Huanghuali, or “yellow flowering pear” wood, is mainly produced in Hainan province and once adorned imperial abodes. Huanghuali has witnessed a sharp price rise in recent years due to increased demand and limited supply. The volume of new huanghuali wood originating in Hainan is so small it has now been placed under State protection.

A veteran in the antique furniture industry said it is estimated huanghuali may face extinction within five years. Now the wood is sold at eight to 12 million yuan per ton.

Though newly made huanghuali furniture used to be more popular than their antique counterparts, the series of auctions has made people realize that antique huanghuali furniture has been undervalued, the veteran said.

People used to focus on the academic value of Ming huanghuali furniture, the autumn auction by China Guardian has made Ming huanghuali furniture’s market value catch up with its academic value, said Qiao Hao, a project manager of China Guardian.

An experienced collector said new entrants need to make clear whether they want to invest or collect. “Like any other art investment, (antique huanghuali furniture) also has risks. And for collection, the collector must accumulate knowledge from mistakes then could they get what they really like.”

Customers should also be cautious that with the heating market, fake antique huanghuali furniture will also mushroom. It is advised to learn some tips or to consult with experts before making purchase.

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