About 30 years ago, a woman found a huge ring while visiting a flea market in London. She picked it up and assumed it was a costume ring, so she bought it. And it never left her finger for all the years that followed. Then, one day, she had it appraised. She never could have imagined just how much that ring was going to alter her life forever.
Back in the 1980s, the London resident was rummaging through stuff at the West Middlesex Hospital’s flea market, just west of the city. Most of the things were old, but not in the best of shape. However, one thing stuck out. It was a huge ring, and she wanted it the moment she laid eyes on it.
From that day forward, she wore the ring everywhere —whenever she went shopping, or when she was doing chores at home. She never regretted her purchase. After all, she bought it for about $13 (£10). And since it wasn’t that expensive, she thought, if she lost it, she wouldn’t cry over it. But for thirty years, she hadn’t realized the ring’s true value.
You can walk into most stores and buy jewelry that’s real, or something that looks extremely real. So what if you bought a fake one? No one would have to know the truth, but what would happen if someone walked up to you someday, and told you that the ring on your finger wasn’t fake?
The ring bearer, who refused to reveal her identity, was surprised when a jeweler approached her. The stranger was mesmerized by the ring on her hand. Then again, it was a huge ring. It also weighed a great deal too. But the woman began to question everything she believed to be true about the ring after the jeweler told her this.
The jeweler told the woman that in his professional opinion, the “junk” on her finger might actually be worth something. At first, she didn’t think much of it. The ring had been on her finger for years, and no one ever suggested it was valuable before. One day, she started to ponder the possibility. Could the ring be valuable?
The ring in the woman’s possession was old. The silver was tarnished, and it was full of dirt too. She didn’t bother taking care of it because she still assumed that it was a costume ring, just like she had when she first bought the bling. But she didn’t want to be kept in suspense any longer. She simply had to find out.
She started looking for a store that could appraise her ring. Eventually, she settled on finding someone who could give her a definitive answer. To that end, she turned to an auction house, which appraised a wide array of expensive products.
Although the woman assumed that the ring was worthless, the truth about the jewelry on her finger was revealed decades later. After searching and searching, she finally decided to take her ring to Sotheby’s Auction House in London. That’s when she learned of the ring’s actual value.
The woman figured that it couldn’t hurt to take her ring to the auction house. The worst that could have happened was that they’d tell her that she bought a “crystal ring” for $13 at a flea market. But that’s not what happened. She had no idea that she had a fortune weighing on her hand.
According to Sotheby’s Jewelry in London, the ring was a 19th century, 26-carat, cushion-shaped white diamond. The auction house determined that the stone had a clarity grade of VVS2, and a color grade of I. The ring could have potentially been worth $450,000 (£350,000). Jessica Wyndham, the head of Sotheby’s jewelry department, pointed out that “it could trick people into thinking it’s not a genuine stone,” because the diamond cutting was “slightly duller and deeper” than it usually is in modern times.
“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. Cutters worked more with the natural shape of the crystal, to conserve as much weight rather than make it as brilliant as possible.” The old style cutting and antique shape made it seem like it wasn’t valuable. But the true price of the ring was eye-watering.
“We confirmed that it was indeed a diamond. We got it tested with the Gemological Institute of America … and that then dictated the price,” claimed Jessica Wyndham. She also stated that the ring was a “one-off windfall, an amazing find.” The antique ring proved that the styles and construction of jewelry have changed over the years. And thanks to its old-style mount, the ring’s weight was heavier.
Wyndham explained that the silver around the top of the ring had become tarnished, which is why it was so black. And given the way the way the stone was cut, it probably didn’t sparkle that way it should have. On top of that, the ring was dirty too, which is why the owner didn’t know what she had on her hand. “They came in with the idea that it might be real, and they had no idea of its value,” the head of the auction house explained.
The ring reached $847,667 (£656,750) after it was auctioned off as international trade. Tobias Kormind, 77 Diamonds’ managing director and diamond expert, believes the ring’s final selling price didn’t reflect what it would be really worth today. In a press release, Kormind stated, “The new owner is likely to re-cut it into a modern diamond that will emit even more sparkle and potentially be worth a multiple of today’s price.”
The woman never imagined that her bargain ring at a London flea market was so valuable, but she was likely stunned by how much cash her investment provided her. The amount of money she received from a ring she thought was worth $13 (£10) was incredibly surprising. She ended up with $847,667 (£656,750). So, you might want to have your costume jewelry appraised, just in case. You might be rich and not even know it.