Bonhams reveals jewellery ‘finds’

 Bonhams reveals jewellery ‘finds’A dusty ruby brooch bought in a charity shop for £1.50 sold for £2,400 after being identified as valuable vintage jewellery by experts at Bonhams auctioneers. The provenance of the flower brooch – found in a basket of ordinary trinkets – was finally revealed after ‘scratches’ on the back turned out to be a Cartier signature. The antique piece was rescued from a Cambridgeshire charity shop after its buyer decided she rather liked the pattern. She decided to get it valued and, after the leading international auctioneers identified it as by Cartier, it sold to a collector for a staggering 1,600 times its purchase price. It is part of a haul of forgotten jewellery worth an estimated £60 million that is gathering dust in drawers and attics across Britain.

Millions of pounds worth of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and other pieces are set aside and forgotten as a result of changing tastes, according to Bonhams. Other incredible finds range from a £20,000 diamond ring buried in a back garden; an art deco brooch bequeathed to a young girl by her grandmother and considered ‘costume jewellery’ until it was valued and sold for £12,500; and a ring inherited from a client’s grandmother that was revealed as an ultra-rare Burmese unheated ruby which sold for £134,500.

Jean Ghika, head of jewellery in the UK and Europe at Bonhams, said: “We estimate there is at least £60 million worth of unwanted jewellery that owners have forgotten or never worn just waiting for a new home. Many clients tell us they had forgotten about a piece of jewellery that might have been handed down to them when an elderly relative passed away or that it was just sitting in a safe deposit box and not being worn and enjoyed. A lot of people have no idea just how valuable these pieces could be.”

Hundreds of pieces of jewellery are valued for free every year with a view to sale by Bonhams during its long-running Jewellery in June campaign. Jewellery prices have been rising in recent years as investors ignore stocks and shares in favour of more tangible commodities like diamonds, gemstones and collectible pieces. Jean Ghika added: “We’re asking everyone to have a look in their drawers and jewellery boxes, dust off any items they haven’t worn for several years or may not know much about and bring them in to any one of our regional offices during June. It’s incredibly exciting not knowing what pieces will be brought in. Over the years we’ve had some astonishing finds, with items brought to us in carrier bags or wrapped in tea towels. The jewellery market is very robust at the moment and items such as natural pearls and good quality diamonds and coloured gemstones are achieving excellent prices.”

Other incredible finds include: a 4.50 carats single-stone ruby ring, after Bonhams sent it away for testing, it turned out to be an ultra-rare Burmese unheated stone which sold for an eye-watering £134,500; a 5 carats brilliant cut diamond in an early 20th Century ring mount which was eventually sold for £20,000 by Bonhams London. A bright green bangle brought for valuation was identified as jade with an estimate of £20,000-£30,000. Bonhams went on to sell this in its Hong Kong salesroom for £443,500. An art deco multi-gem brooch was valued by Bonhams, and it was revealed to be Cartier and sold for £12,500 to a private collector. An antique amethyst necklace was sold by Bonhams for £6,000. A ring set with a rare light blue stone later sold for £100,000 to a Swiss collector.

Bonhams, this year, will hold over 40 dedicated jewellery auctions across the world, including London, New York and Hong Kong. Jean Ghika added: “Current market conditions for fine jewellery, most specifically period pieces, fine coloured gemstones, diamonds and natural pearls, has never been stronger. “During June, our team of jewellery specialists will be available to give confidential valuations, free of charge, on any piece of jewellery you may be considering for auction.”

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