“30 years after buying a $13.00 ring, a woman realizes she was duped. She looked at the woman and couldn’t believe what had just been said. She thought the appraiser had probably made a mistake. The woman had never been in a situation like that and suspected that neither did the appraiser. She had no idea where to turn. But what she was told next made her instant royalty.
An unidentified Londoner was on her weekly stroll at the Middle Sect Hospital Flea Market, west of the city, gliding past different stands. Everything looked pretty old and worn out. With only a couple of bucks in her pocket, she wanted her purchase to be worth every penny. As she was eyeing a necklace on one of the stands, she couldn’t help but notice the huge ring sparkling in the corner of her eye. She turned to the ring and knew that fate had brought her to it.
The woman, who remains anonymous as per her request, wanted to get herself something beautiful and luxurious. Though it looked like something she could never afford, she wanted it because it meant something more to her than just some pile of junk. She picked up the ring and looked at it for a moment. As it resonated with her, something seemed off.
Nevertheless, she felt inexplicably drawn to it. The ring was set on a mount of incredible size, the crystal too. The whole piece looked like jewelry from a fairy tale, and the woman knew she had to have it. A piece of jewelry not only she loved with all her heart but will serve as a talisman to remind herself that one day, if she worked hard enough, she could buy a real diamond. Little did she know everything was about to change.
She completed her purchases and spent her last remaining 10 pounds, $13.00 dollars, on the incredible piece. From then on, she wore the ring every day, everywhere. Years passed, her talisman still by her side, being in the public background; she didn’t need much else. So she kept this piece close to her. It made her feel like a princess, even 30 years later.
But one day, a strange trip to the grocery store turned her life upside down. On a beautiful afternoon on her way home from work, the Londoner stopped at a nearby grocery store. She grabbed all the stuff she needed and headed to the checkout line. While waiting, she could not help but notice a stranger ogling her hand. She thought this was very peculiar but brushed off her train of thought and continued waiting for her turn. What she didn’t know was that the stranger, a mysterious man, was not willing to let her out of his sight.
The man wouldn’t stop gazing at her ring, and the woman was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Her turn finally came up; she quickly paid for her products and headed out the door, still noticing the gaze of the man following her every move. She quickly became suspicious and feared for the worst, and that’s when she noticed he was still following her. What did this man want? How could she get rid of him?
The woman quickly walked towards her car, aware that the man was still trailing her. She tried to keep him in her peripheral vision as she attempted to lose him in the crowd, but he seemed unshakable. She wondered what he wanted from her or was she just being paranoid. Then the gap between her and him closed, and she felt him right behind her. She spun around to confront him, and then he said something that completely blindsided her.
The mystery man had followed her because something about her costume jewelry caught his eye. And then he asked her something that left her questioning everything. Seeing the panic on her face and with his greedy eyes never leaving her hands, he quickly asked her if she minded giving him a closer look at her ring. Not appreciating being approached so brazenly by a stranger and suspecting a scam, she merely brushed him off and hurried on her way.
The woman always had her talisman by her side, but one day, she was in such a hurry she forgot to put it on. It had become a ritual for her to wake up and put the ring on her finger. But that day, she was frazzled. She was going to be late, and as she hurried to get dressed and out the door, the ring was not on her finger. The ring was so incredibly valuable to her that she got off at the next stop and headed back to her house.
‘I can’t believe I left it at home,’ she thought, and more so after being so paranoid about the man at the grocery store. As she climbed the stairs two by two, she started in her bedroom. Her initial thought was to look for the ring where she always kept it. Nothing… it wasn’t there. She knew she should’ve been more careful. Something was off about that man, and her gut feeling told her so too. Eyes widening, breath ragged and harsh, she turned her bedroom upside down. She could not find her precious costume ring. But then something jogged her memory.
As she entered her bathroom, there it was. The ring stood massively next to the sink in all its glory. She put it there to remind herself to put it back on after brushing her teeth but didn’t. She was struggling to pay her bills; that was no secret. All she could think about was this strange man who had an uncanny interest in her ring. He seemed to think that her crystal ring might be of some value. Whose had it belonged to? She thought…
The encounter with the man had been enough to take the ring to Sotheby’s London. Maybe they could answer her questions and relieve her anxiety, she wondered longingly. If it had belonged to someone famous. The ring was old, the silver was tarnished, and there was a lot of dirt on it. But what secret was it holding? A couple of anxious days later, she would finally know the mind-bending truth.
The suspense was killing her, and suddenly a sense of dread came over her. Sotheby’s said they would keep it for a couple of days to run some tests on the stone, and her heart plummeted. Then Sotheby’s Jewelry in London confirmed the stone’s authenticity. It turned out that her ring was a giant 26-karat cushion-shaped white diamond from the 19th Century. The Londoner couldn’t believe it. Surely they made a mistake. How could she be wearing a ring of such value all this time?
Sotheby’s had all the answers. Jessica Windham, who heads the auction house’s jewelry department, explained that a ring of such value was probably owned by someone in the Royal Family in the 19th Century. And because the diamond cutting had been slightly dulled and deeper than nowadays, it could trick people into thinking it’s not a genuine stone.
With an old-style cutting and antique cushion shape, the light doesn’t reflect as much as it would from a modern stone cutting. The cutter worked to conserve all the weight rather than making it as brilliant as possible. The antique shape and older style had disguised its true brilliance for all these years.
They also went on to explain why it took them so long to get it authenticated and valued. ‘We confirmed that it was indeed a diamond; we tested it with the Gemological Institute of America. And that then dictated the price,’ said Jessica Windham. Jessica Windham told the unidentified woman that the ring could go for as much as 350,000 pounds, that’s about $450,000 if it were auctioned.
The auction house continued to explain the cut of the stone. Probably, it wouldn’t sparkle. Plus, it was all dirty; no one would really think it was real. ‘They came in with the idea it might be real, but they had no idea of its value,’ Windham added.
The Londoner knew that when she was standing at the Flea Market, the ring sparkled. That’s what caught her attention. But maybe her talisman only shone for her. Having led a life from paycheck to paycheck, another person’s junk was her treasure, and it just changed her life.
The ring was sent to auction and got sold for a staggering amount of 656,750 pounds, that’s almost $850,000 dollars. Not only did this great little possessions auction make her life a whole lot easier, but she finally knew that she’d been a princess all along.
But… how do you know if your costume jewelry is valuable?”