£8 million worth of jewellery gathering dust in the homes across the South East

PUBLISHED: 12:49 13 August 2014 | UPDATED: 12:49 13 August 2014

Iakov Filimonov

An amazing £8 million worth of unwanted jewellery is probably squirreled away in drawers and attics across the Thames Valley and South East, according to new research by auction house Bonhams.

It’s part of a treasure trove around Britian totalling some £50m of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and other expensive pieces that have simply been forgotten, stashed on top of wardrobes or in bedside drawers, as a result of changing tastes.

While some jewellery is deliberately squirreled away for a rainy day, many more items are simply lost and forgotten among general household clutter, or are passed down through the generations without their true value being realised, rarely worn and left to gather dust.

With prices rising, and increasing numbers of investors turning away from stocks and shares to more tangible commodities such as diamonds, gem stones and historically significant pieces, the figures suggest people should pay more heed to the value of their family jewellery.

Last year’s sales included a new world record price for a blue diamond ‘Trombino ring’, which sold for £6.2million at Bonhams in London.

Jean Ghika, head of jewellery in the UK and Europe at Bonhams, said: “We estimate that there is at least £50 million worth of unwanted jewellery that owners have forgotten or never worn just waiting for a new home. We’re urging everyone to have a look in their drawers and jewellery boxes, dusting off any items they haven’t worn for several years or may have been bequeathed and not know much about.

“It’s incredibly exciting not knowing what pieces will be brought in. Over the years we’ve had some astonishing finds, often brought to us in carrier bags or wrapped in tea towels! Many clients tell us they had simply forgotten about a piece of jewellery that might have been handed down to them when an elderly relative passed away. A lot of them have no idea just how valuable these pieces could be.”

One of the most extraordinary finds in the South East did arrive in a tea towel. It was a rare art deco aquamarine and diamond bracelet which sold for £46,850. A 1950s floral spray brooch took £27,500 at auction after its owners uncovered it at the back of a drawer in their late mother’s house. It had not been worn for at least 20 years. Jean says: “This was typical of a several lovely pieces that really hadn’t been worn or appreciated for decades.”

In the Oxford and Thames Valley region a belle époque diamond pendant/necklace, c1905, sold for £64,800, while a 6.44 carats diamond single-stone ring went for £35,000 and a 5.50 carats marquise diamond single-stone ring recorded a very nice £19,200.

Jean Ghika said: “International buyers are increasingly turning to the London area to source rare pieces and investment jewellery. We’re seeing growing interest in jewellery from Europe and the Far East.”

For more information or to book an appointment with a Bonhams jewellery expert, call 020 7468 8278 or email jewellery@bonhams.com

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