Imagine walking around with a gaudy ring on your finger, only to find out years later that what you thought was a piece of “costume jewelry” was actually a rare stone worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That’s what happened to one British woman who purchased a $15 ring in the 1980s at a flea market (what the British call a “car boot” sale). That ring, or rather the diamond mounted on that ring, is going to be auctioned off next month.
The price tag? It’s expected to fetch more than $450,000.
Not a bad investment, eh?
The 26.27 carat diamond is being auctioned at Sotheby’s in early June. The ring’s owner, who does not wish to be identified (I mean, would you?), said she didn’t realize the stone was a real diamond because it didn’t sparkle like today’s diamonds.
That’s because 19th-century diamonds weren’t cut the same way we cut them today—they were duller and didn’t show off as much brilliance and clarity.
The woman, apparently, wore this precious stone while shopping, doing chores and plenty of other regular household activities.
“The owner would wear it out shopping, wear it day-to-day,” Jessica Wyndham, the head of Sotheby’s London jewelry department, told The Guardian. It’s a good-looking ring. But it was bought as a costume jewel. No one had any idea it had any intrinsic value at all. They enjoyed it all this time.”
Sotheby’s tested the ring at the Gemological Institute of America after the owners brought it in one day. The owners apparently visited a jeweler who told them it could be more valuable than they realized.
“It’s a life-changing amount of money,” Wyndham said. “No matter what your background is or what your past experiences have been, it’s going to revolutionise someone’s life.”