CHEAP money is continuing to drive up prices in the arts and antiques market, says the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The all lot net price balance has doubled in the last three months from +7 per cent to +14 per cent, indicating that an increasing number of chartered surveyors believe that prices of arts and antiques are rising rather than falling.

In fact, the latest responses demonstrate that prices are rising in 70 per cent of the market, and that it is the top end of the market which has the strongest readings.

However, the contemporary art market is starting to look like the lame duck of the arts and antiques sector as more surveyors report that prices are falling.

The number of chartered surveyors reporting that prices are falling rather than rising in the contemporary arts market increased in the third quarter of this year to 34 per cent, from 24 per cent in Q2. As in previous quarters, prices fell across the board and show a marked contrast to the rises seen at the start of last year.

In contrast, the traditional ‘safe havens’ of jewellery and silverware had strong readings, with positive results in all price brands.

Forty four per cent more surveyors felt that jewellery prices were still rising, and 37 per cent more felt that silverware prices were on the up as well.

The oil and watercolour sector is still strong at the top end of the market, despite recording an overall net balance of -3 per cent. Nine per cent more surveyors believed that prices were rising in the market for pieces over £50,000, and 14 per cent more agreed that those between £5,000 and £50,000 were still experiencing price rises rather than falls.

RICS member, Diane Sinnott of Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn, North Yorkshire said: “The uncertainty of the financial markets has seen investors side-stepping the stock market and banking in favour more tangible assets such as art and antiques.

“Here at Tennants I have seen good quality, fresh to the market antiques with decent provenance being snapped up by eager buyers keen to invest in areas of collecting such as books, toys, militaria (in particular medals) and ethnographica.

“Over the past 18 months the market for collectable furniture, such as Mouseman, has continued to climb with demand showing no signs of abating.

“Silver and jewellery is another area which has seen remarkable growth recently, due in part to the unprecedented scrap price for the raw material.

“Furthermore, our foot fall through our sale room in Leyburn proves that the art and antique market continues to interest a great many people, and if our current level of business is anything to go by, then the future looks rosy.”

The RICS Arts & Antiques market survey is published quarterly and measures surveyor confidence in the general arts and antiques market and in certain sub-sectors including gold and silver, furniture, pictures, ceramics and clocks.