There is an estimated £60m worth of vintage jewellery gathering dust in drawers and attics across Britain, according to Bonhams.
The auction house said that millions of pounds worth of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and other pieces of jewellery are simply set aside and forgotten as a result of changing tastes.
The announcement was made after a dusty ruby brooch, which was bought in a charity shop for £1.50, sold for £2,400 after ‘scratches’ on its back were identified as a Cartier signature by Bonhams auctioneers.
Other finds range from a £20,000 diamond ring buried in a back garden, an art deco brooch bequeathed to a young girl by her grandmother and considered ‘costume’ jewellery until it sold for £12,5000 and a ring inherited from a grandmother which was revealed as an “ultra-rare” Burmese unheated ruby, selling for £134,500.
Jean Ghika, head of jewellery in the UK and Europe at Bonhams, said: “We estimate there is at least £60 million worth of unwanted jewellery that owners have forgotten or never worn just waiting for a new home.
“Many clients tell us they had forgotten about a piece of jewellery that might have been handed down to them when an elderly relative passed away or that it was just sitting in a safe deposit box and not being worn and enjoyed. A lot of people have no idea just how valuable these pieces could be.”
Throughout June, as part of its ‘Jewellery in June’ campaign, Bonhams will run a series of jewellery valuation days across the country inviting people to have their jewellery valued.