Auctions are really exciting, because you never know what will happen. You could come away with a bargain that turns out to be priceless, or you may have your heart broken only for it to repair itself in time for your next quest. If you’ve just caught the auction bug, here are some random (but very sensible) tips to help you out.

Make sure you look over the lots you’re interested in before making a bid. If you can’t see them because it is an online or phone auction, ask for a condition report.

Watch out for disclaimers like “in the style of…” and “after the <insert era> era…” as that could mean you’re looking at replicas rather than the real thing.

Don’t get upset when you miss out on a specific item – with auctions, there’ll always be something else along to take your mind off it.

Never be shy about asking the auctioneers for advice. Specialist houses like Rosss.ie will always be happy to help and advise you – it’s their business and they enjoy it as much as you do.

Always remember the buyer’s premium fee, which can range from 18% to 25% of your winning price.

Any restored item will always be of a lower value and if you’re looking at something that needs to be restored, make sure you factor these repair costs into your budget.

If you are planning to invest or make a profit from your auction-going, then start a collection in a narrow niche and then sell the collection on through a specialist. Stick with this field for a while, too, as you’ll be amazed at how quickly you become an expert – you may even have the auctioneers asking you for your opinion!

Get a receipt – every single time.

If you’re into precious metals, then silver is always a safe bet. It’s always popular and is a lot harder to fake than gold. If you are buying gold, though, and there’s no hallmark, don’t try biting it to test it, take it to a lab to be verified.

When it comes to paintings, look at the frame as well as the artwork. Occasionally, the frame is worth much more than the painting itself!

If antique investing is your thing, make sure you know all about the latest trends and spikes in interest. While trendier pieces will cost more while they’re fashionable, they can depreciate rapidly, so don’t buy at the height of the market. Look at what’s coming up, bag it and wait for the peak.

If you’re unfamiliar with a style, era or item, leave it alone until you have done your research – impulse buying can sometimes cost you very dearly.

Build up a rapport and friendships with the auctioneers and the porters, as they’re the ones in the know. The porters handle the items, so they might be able to tip you off about a flaw, or even a sign that the item’s more valuable than you thought.

Hopefully these tips will help you aspiring auction hunters out there!