When you hear the word ‘antique’, it tends to conjure up images of old, ornate statement pieces passed down generations - vintage family heirlooms that hold a lot of history and heritage. Clocks and watches, china and ceramics, and furniture from eras gone by.

But if you think about it, anything and everything has potential to eventually become an antique. After all, today’s events will become tomorrow’s history. Knowing what to hold onto (and what to take to the charity shop) is a minefield.

Ipswich Star: Could you be the owner of a possibly rare modern or contemporary antique?Could you be the owner of a possibly rare modern or contemporary antique? (Image: SzB)

But experts have been tracking, for some time, the modern and contemporary items which could hold value in the future.

“Contemporary is by definition what’s happening in design at the very moment in time," explains Geoffrey Barfoot, centre director at Clarke and Simpson Auctions. "Modern art is aimed to throw aside the traditions and experiment with new ways of seeing and with totally fresh ideas about materials and meaning of art. Anything can be collectable, whether handmade or machine manufactured. It’s in the eye of the collector, and it doesn’t have to always be items of significant value to fire enthusiasm."

Ipswich Star: Geoffrey Barfoot of Clarke and Simpson AuctionsGeoffrey Barfoot of Clarke and Simpson Auctions (Image: Clarke and Simpson Auctions)

Talking about what to collect now, Oliver Miller of Bishop & Miller Auctioneers adds: “I would say that it’s all about the design and quality of the object. In our industry we see so many objects that are hundreds of years old, but we also see some pieces that do not have a great deal of age. Some people might not think that this may affect its value, however it is important to think about the designer and the look that people go for."

Ipswich Star: Oliver Miller of Bishop & Miller AuctioneersOliver Miller of Bishop & Miller Auctioneers (Image: Bishop & Miller Auctioneers)

Oliver picks Scandinavian furniture out as timeless, and worth purchasing now due to its ability to blend into modern or older-style properties. "It's a similar story with smaller objects like glass from Lalique, or copper works from The Newlyn School. They can look amazing in a home setting of any type.”

Both Oliver and Geoffrey say collecting anything begins with being realistic about your expectations. No one can guarantee value - therefore it's important to buy items you actually like and can live with. Don't snap up that ugly sculpture or hideous painting on a whim because it 'might' be worth a million pounds.

"Buy what you enjoy," says Oliver. " If you love a piece, you will respect it for what it is. Also buy the best you can afford within your budget. That could mean only buying one piece, and not five. It's a much wiser investment for the future, rather than trying to get as many of the same objects as possible, as you may diversify from the quality when wanting quantity."

Ipswich Star: A Lalique Meandres pattern vaseA Lalique Meandres pattern vase (Image: Daniel Page)

“Wristwatches and jewellery are always a good bet, as are gold coins, and very good contemporary artwork by some renowned artists. Any gold coin is a good investment for the future - we have seen people who invested in gold coins 20 or so more years ago and they are now finding the price of gold to be at its highest we have ever seen, so they are deciding to sell. In all honesty you can't really go wrong. We tend to see a lot of sovereigns and Krugerrands, but there are always plenty of people buying and selling gold coins. It is quite a perfect market.

“When it comes to watches, the well-known brands always tend to sell well, and the gents’ wristwatch market is incredibly strong. We have only ever seen that increase over the last few years, so this trend will definitely continue. You will want to look out for Rolex, Tag Heuer, Patik Philippe, and the retro make of Seiko is one that is on the rise too. But I go back to saying that buy the best of the best you can afford of the objects you like, that way you can't really go wrong. Try to purchase pieces that are by a specific maker as these in themselves add more weight.”

Some of his favourite examples include furniture such as the Eames Chair, the enamel work of Archibald Knox, work by silversmith Omar Ramsden, the glass of Lalique, Deco jewellery made famous by Cartier, and pottery by Martin Brothers.

Ipswich Star: A Daytona RolexA Daytona Rolex (Image: Daniel Page)

“I’d suggest good quality design furniture from the 60s and 70s, film posters, travel posters, 60s and 70s advertising items, small but good quality items of silver, and also good quality studio pottery from up-and-coming potters who don’t yet have a following,” adds Geoffrey.

Following the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II, memorabilia featuring the late monarch is also ripe for buying – he suggests opting for more ‘unusual or bespoke items’ rather than the standard china, mugs and plates.

“Fashion items from the 60s and 70s (especially clothes and hand bags) are also worth collecting now. Clocks of all types are currently good value and may increase, as will brown furniture. Some of it is so cheap to buy at auction but so well made that there has to be an upturn at some point," Geoffrey says.

Ipswich Star: A Seiko Chronograph Automatic Helmet gentleman's wristwatchA Seiko Chronograph Automatic Helmet gentleman's wristwatch (Image: Daniel Page)

Once you’ve made an investment, or found something in your loft or garage worth holding on to, what is the best way to keep those precious valuables and future antiques in tip-top condition?

“Always avoid direct sunlight on furniture and pictures, and avoid putting veneered furniture close to radiator,” says Geoffrey.

“Likewise don’t keep anything in a damp environment, and don’t over-polish silver - I have seen so many pieces with the hallmarks literally rubbed away. Generally, only restore items that you are going to keep, as the cost of restoration will not necessarily increase the value of the item if you’re planning to sell it in the near future.”