Imagine picking up a nice little costume jewellery ring from a flea market only to find out 30 years later that it isn’t a piece of costume jewellery at all, but a genuine diamond ring.
Sounds like the stuff of dreams, but that’s exactly what happened to a lady in London. She purchased a diamond ring at a car boot sale (a garage sale of sorts) 30 years ago for £10 (RM55), thinking the stone had to be a fake costume jewel because of its “exceptional size” and the fact that it didn’t look anywhere near as brilliant and shiny as a conventional diamond.
In truth, the diamond turned out to be a genuine 26.27 carat one worth a lot more than what she bought it for.
The reason for this, explains Sotheby’s head of jewellery Jessica Wyndham, is that our image of sparkling, brilliant diamonds is a fairly modern one. 19th Century diamonds, like the £10 one purchased at the flea market, were not cut in the same way as modern diamonds are. As a result, they end up “slightly duller and deeper than you would see in a modern style … it could trick people into thinking it’s not a genuine stone.”
“With an old style of cutting, an antique cushion shape, the light doesn’t reflect back as much as it would from a modern stone cutting,” Wyndham told The Guardian. “Cutters worked more with the natural shape of the crystal, to conserve as much weight of the crystal rather than make it as brilliant as possible. The older stones have quite a bit of personality. They sparkle in a different way.”
Unaware of its value, the ring’s owner wore it almost daily for decades until she took it to be appraised by the Sotheby’s auction house when a jeweller advised her to do so.
Turns out that was good advice, because after being tested by the Gemological Institute of America, the cushion-shaped white diamond is now estimated to fetch £350,000 (RM1.9million) when it goes to auction on June 7!
Unfortunately, the origins of the ring and how it came to end up at the car boot sale remains unknown.
Not like you needed another reason to hit the flea markets, but now that you’re aware of the literal diamonds that may be lurking in the rough, perhaps it’s time to do some flea market shopping this weekend.