Auction house Bonhams has estimated that there is £50m worth of unwanted jewellery languishing in Britain’s homes
The past five years has seen Bonhams' increasingly busy jewellery department witness some astonishing sales of forgotten pieces that vendors have found in boxes, in bedside cabinets, on top of wardrobes or in the attic. And this month, the auction house is offering the opportunity to discover if any jewels that you have at home are worth a small fortune too.
Some of the amazing finds the auction house has valued include a pair of art deco ear pendants (above), brought in in a plastic carrier bag that went on to sell for a jaw-dropping £157,250, much to the surprise of the owners.
Similarly, a simple pearl necklace, thought to be cultured pearls and of no particular value, sold for £12,500 after it was discovered to be a rare example of natural pearls.
Other jewellery discoveries have changed their owners' lives. A woman in Wales found an old ring that had belonged to her grandmother in the pocket of an evening bag. She took it for valuation, only to discover that it was a marquise-cut diamond weighing 5.55 carats, and was astonished to see it sell for £19,200, allowing her to put down a deposit on her first flat.
This month, Jean Ghika, head of Bonhams' UK and Europe jewellery department, is urging everyone to have a rummage in their homes and see what they can find as part of the auctioneer's ‘Jewellery in June’ campaign. ‘It’s incredibly exciting not knowing what pieces will be brought in,’ she says. ‘Over the years we’ve had some astonishing finds, often brought to us in carrier bags and wrapped in tea towels!’
We’re all set to turn out our drawers and cupboards. Who knows what you might find?