At a flea market in London, a woman thought she got a steal. She didn’t know how much of an understatement that was when she decided that she’d get her ring appraised 30 years later.
The appraiser told the woman its value and they were both stunned. The woman couldn’t believe the appraiser, it had to have been an error. The woman didn’t know what her next move should be, but the next thing she heard made her an instant celebrity.
A woman was walking to the Middlesex Hosptial flea market with a little bit of change clanging in her pocket. She felt like she deserved to treat herself to something nice.
Looking at a jewelry stand, she first peered at a necklace. But then, the glint of a ring caught her attention. She instantly fell in love with it.
The woman, who wants to stay incognito, felt like spoiling herself. She knew the ring would be more money than she had, but it had more value to her than just another flea market trinket.
Feeling its allure, the woman had to hold it. There was something strange about this ring… but she wanted it and she needed it immediately.
The ring looked as if it belonged to a Disney princess — and the mount the ring was on was enormous.
The ring would serve as a reminder that, if she put aside some money, one day she’d be able to get herself a genuine diamond. But she didn’t know that her actions would change her life.
She looked in her pockets and took out all the money she had left and bought the ring for $13. More than happy with her purchase, she always kept the ring on from that day.
30 years passed and the woman didn’t feel she needed anything more extravagant. She felt like royalty. But, one day at the grocery store, something happened that she didn’t expect.
After a day at work, the woman decided to visit the grocery store for things she needed. After getting the necessities, she stood in-line at the check-out, then she noticed a man peering down at her ring.
She didn’t pay the man any mind… at first. She was unaware that this man was in fact staring and wasn’t going to give up so easily.
Only after a while did the woman start feeling uneasy about the man. It came to her turn to pay and she quickly left the store. But the man was watching her the entire time.
The man kept up behind her and the worst-case scenario played in her mind. What was the man after? How could she lose him?
The man couldn’t be lost easily, she tried going through a crowd — to no avail. She saw her car… her last hope. She had to get there quickly.
Maybe she was just imagining it, she thought to herself. But then she felt him getting closer and closer until he was just a few feet behind her. “Enough of this,” she thought. She took a stand and whipped around to confront him. But his reason for following her would leave her wide-eyed.
The stranger said he trailed her because he couldn’t help but notice her ring. The man peered down at her ring with a greedy look in his eye. He asked her is if he could look at it a bit closer. But she didn’t trust the man and quickly turned to leave.
As she was moving to her car, the man shouted after her: “…it doesn’t belong to you!” The woman just wanted to be left alone, so she tried to forget about the confrontation… for now.
Every day without fail, the woman would put her ring on as part of her routine. But being in a rush today, she completely forgot about it. Making her way to the door knowing she was going to be late, she turned the door nob — her finger void of her ring.
Only after getting on the subway did she realize her ring was at home. Anxiety coursed through her body, she needed to hurry before too much time had passed.
The ring was so incredibly valuable to her that she got off on 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 rounded the corner to her house, dread engulfed her. She saw a car speed away which seemed like it was parked right in front of her drive. She felt immense pressure in her chest and immediately ran through her front door.
As she gasped for air in her entrance she looked back at the door; she had run through it with such force she didn’t even think twice about the fact that it was unlocked. That was it, her talisman was gone, and now she would never know the real value it had. Still, she needed to check to make sure and what she found made her blood boil even more.
As she climbed the stairs two-by-two, she started in her bedroom. Her initial thought was to look for the ring where she had always kept it. Nothing. It was not there. She knew she should have been more careful, something was off about that man and her gut feeling told her so too. Eyed widening, breaths 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 of its glory. She had put it there to remind herself to put it back on after brushing her teeth but didn’t. She couldn’t live with his anxiety; she had to do something.
She was struggling to pay her bills, that was no secret. All she could think about was the strange man who had an uncanny interest in her ring. He seemed to think her ‘crystal ring’ might be of some value. Who had it belonged to? she thought. The encounter with the man had been enough for her 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 had tarnished, and there was a lot of dirt on it — but what secrets was it hiding? 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. What if she had given her prize possession to them and never saw it again? What if all of this was a scam devised by the mysterious man who coveted it? Sotheby’s said they had to 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-carat cushion-shaped white diamond from the 19th Century. The Londoner couldn’t believe it… surely they had made a mistake? How could she have been wearing a ring of such value all this time?
Sotheby’s had all the answers.
Jessica Wyndham, 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 was “slightly duller and deeper” than nowadays “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 as much as it would from a modern stone cutting. Cutters worked to conserve as much weight rather than make it as brilliant as possible.”
The antique shape and older style had disguised its true brilliance for all those years. They also went on to explain while they took so long to get it authenticated and valued – “We confirmed that it was indeed a diamond. We got it tested with the Gemological Institute of America … and that then dictated the price,” said Jessica Wyndham.
Jessica Wyndham told the unidentified woman that the ring could go for as much as £350,000 (about $450,000) if it were auctioned.
The head of the auction house continued to explain the cut of the stone probably would have meant that it didn’t sparkle, plus it was all dirty, no one would really think it was real. “They came in with the idea that it might be real, and they had no idea of its value,” Wyndham added.
The Londoner knew when she was standing at the flea market that the ring sparkled. That is what caught her attention, but maybe, her talisman only shone for her. Having led life from paycheck to paycheck, another person’s junk was her treasure and had just changed her life.
The ring was sent to auction and got sold for a staggering amount: £656,750 ($847,667). Not only did this great little possession’s auction make her life a whole lot easier, but she finally knew that she had been a princess all along. But how do you know if your costume jewelry is valuable?