She Was Astonished
She stared at the woman, astonished. At first, she thought she had misheard her, she assumed that the appraiser must’ve made a big mistake.
She had never been in this kind of situation before, and by the looks of it, it didn’t seem like the appraiser had either. What was she supposed to do now? She didn’t know where to turn, but what they said next made her instant royalty.
Love At First Sight
An unidentified Londoner was on her weekly stroll of the Middlesex Hospital flea market (west of the city), gliding past different stands. Everything looked pretty old and worn out, and 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 a huge jewel sparkle in the corner of her eye. She picked the ring up and knew that fate had brought her to it.
More Than Just Junk
The woman, who remains anonymous as per request, wanted to get herself something beautiful and luxurious. While she knew it looked like something she could never afford, she wanted it because it meant more to her than just a piece of junk.
She picked up the ring and looked at it for a moment. It just resonated with her, but something seemed off. Nevertheless, she felt inexplicably drawn to it.
Maybe One Day
The ring sat on a mount that was of incredible size, and the crystal was large too. The whole piece looked like jewelry from a fairy tale, and the woman knew that she had to have it.
It wasn’t just a piece of jewelry that she loved with all her heart, and it would also serve as a talisman to remind herself that one day – if she worked hard enough – she would buy a real diamond. Little did she know that everything was about to change.
She completed her purchase and spent her last remaining £10 ($13) on the pretty piece. From then on, she wore the ring every day, everywhere. Years passed, and her talisman was still by her side.
Coming from a humble 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.
One 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 at her hand. She thought this was very peculiar, but she 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 going 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, and she quickly paid for her items and headed for the door, still noticing the man’s gaze following her every move.
She quickly became suspicious and feared the worst. And that’s when she noticed that he was still following her. What did this man want? And how could she get rid of him?
The woman quickly walked toward her car, aware that the man was still trailing her. She tried to keep him in her peripheral vision as she tried to lose him in the crowd, but he seemed unshakeable.
She wondered what he wanted from her… or was she just being paranoid? Then, the gap between them closed, and she felt him right behind her. She spun around to confront him, and then he said something that completely blindsided her.
Nowhere To Turn
The mystery man had followed her because something about her costume jewelry had 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 hand, he quickly asked her if she minded giving him a closer look at her ring.
Brushing Him Off
Not appreciating being approached so brazenly by a stranger and suspecting some kind of scam, she rudely brushed him off and hurried away.
As she turned to leave, she heard the man yell, “Where did you get that?” But she just wanted to get home, so she didn’t give the strange encounter another thought… until later.
Always, But Not That Day
The woman always had her talisman by her side, but one day she was in such a hurry that she forgot to put it on.
It had become a ritual for her to wake up and immediately 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.
She didn’t think much of it, but as she hopped on the subway and her hand held onto the strap above her to steady her balance, she noticed her mistake.
Fear pulsed through her body with such force she thought she was having an anxiety attack. She needed to do something, but whatever she did, she needed to do it fast.
The ring was so precious to her that she got off at the next stop and headed straight back to her house. “I can’t believe I left it at home,” she thought angrily – even after she had been 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 had been parked right in front of her driveway. She felt immense pressure in her chest and immediately ran through her front door.
The Door Was Unlocked
As she gasped for air in her entranceway and looked back at the door, she realized that she had run through it with such force that 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 its real value. Still, she needed to check to make sure. But what she found made her blood boil even more.
All Of Its Glory
She climbed the stairs two-by-two and 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. With her eyes widening and her breaths ragged, she turned her bedroom upside down. She could not find her precious costume ring, but then something jogged her memory.
In The Bathroom
She retraced her steps that morning. As she entered her bathroom, there it was. The ring sat next to the sink, sparkling 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 with an uncanny interest in her ring. He seemed to think her ‘crystal ring’ might be of some value.
Who had it belonged to? 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.
Who Did It Belong To?
She wondered, longingly, if the ring had belonged to someone famous. The ring was obviously old, the silver mounting and band had tarnished, and there was a lot of dirt on it — but what secrets was it hiding?
After a couple of anxious days waiting for the news from the auction house, she would finally find out the mind-bending truth.
The suspense was killing her, and suddenly, a sense of dread overcame 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.
A Diamond In The Rough
When Sotheby’s Jewelry in London confirmed the stone’s authenticity, nobody could believe it. 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?
Fit For Royalty
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 all the way back 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.”
No One Would Think It Was Valuable
“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,” Jessica Wyndham explained further.
“Cutters worked to conserve as much weight rather than make it as brilliant as possible,” she said. So, nobody was the wiser because the stone was duller than you’d expect for a genuine diamond.
The antique shape, tarnished mount and band, and older style had disguised the ring’s true brilliance for all those years.
Jessica Wyndham also went on to explain why 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,” she said. “It’s a life-changing amount of money.”
An Amazing Windfall
Jessica Wyndham explained more details to the BBC about why the lucky London woman had no idea what she had.
“They’d been to quite a few car-boot sales over the years. But they don’t have any history of collecting antiques, and they don’t have any history of collecting diamonds. This is a one-off windfall, an amazing find.”
Once In A Lifetime
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.
Although the diamond appeared dull, the lucky London woman knew that the ring sparkled when she was standing at the flea market. That is what caught her attention, but maybe her talisman only shone for her.
Having lived life from paycheck to paycheck, another person’s junk was her treasure – and it was about to change her world.
A Staggering Amount Of Money
The ring was sent to auction and got sold for a staggering amount: £656,750 ($847,667). The woman’s life would never be the same.
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 some diamonds have fetched even more eye-watering amounts at auction.
The Oppenheimer Blue
On the 18th of May 2016, a 14.62-carat diamond, the Oppenheimer Blue, sold for the world record-breaking amount of $58 million at auction.
Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s International Head of Jewellery, was present at the auction held at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva and said the bidding war lasted well over 20 minutes. But one diamond fetched even more than that.
The Pink Star
The Pink Star diamond smashed the record held by Oppenheimer Blue when it sold for an unbelievable $71.2 million in 2017.
The 59.60-carat diamond is the largest internally flawed ‘fancy vivid pink’ diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America. Additionally, the Pink Star also holds the record for the highest price item ever sold at auction in Asia.
While the London woman had unbelievable luck that day when she bought the ring for $30 at the flea market, many people have found rare and valuable antiques in the strangest places.
Next time you spot something cheap in a flea market and get a gut feeling about it, you shouldn’t hesitate to purchase it. Who knows… maybe you’ll be the next lucky one.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.