Time To Raid Your Jewellery Boxes; You Might Be Sitting On A Fortune

The auction house, Bonhams, estimates that Brits are sitting on millions of pounds worth of vintage jewellery.

(Image credit: Rex Features)

The auction house, Bonhams, estimates that Brits are sitting on millions of pounds worth of vintage jewellery.

You know when your granny kindly gives you her old jewellery and you leave it gathering dust on your dressing table or stuffed in a box, unable to really make it work with any of your outfits?

Well, time to buff it up and head to the Antiques Roadshow, for auctioneers, Bonhams, have today told The Telegraph that they estimate UK households are sitting on £60 million of vintage jewellery, unaware of its value.

This could be due, in part, to changing trends. Often pieces bequeathed by relatives seem old-fashioned and un-wearable, kept only for sentimental reasons.

Director of Bonham’s jewellery department, Emily Barber, said: ‘We see many instances where a piece that might not have seemed worth a great deal a few years ago could be highly fashionable now and fetch a very large sum.’

‘This is partly because people tend not to tell each other how valuable their jewellery is, but also because the relative that bequeathed it may have had no idea themselves.’

As old styles gain popularity among collectors and museums, pieces that had low value a decade ago could be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds today.

Bonhams have published a record of their most astonishing discoveries, including an art deco Cartier brooch given to a girl by her grandmother and worn for fancy dress, that was sold for £12,500; and a diamond ring found in someone’s back garden valued at £20,000.

The auction house’s jewellery specialist, Sophie Stevens has advised people on how to spot a hidden gem. Stevens says to look out for ‘key features’ such as unevenly shaped pearls, pieces inscribed with signatures, or diamonds that look ‘dull’ or ‘irregularly cut’.

‘If you have antique pieces of jewellery at home that are set with diamonds with irregular outlines, or look a bit dull compared to modern round brilliance…do not think these will not have a strong market at auction because antique jewellery set with diamonds like this are always very popular,’ she said.

This month, Bonhams will be holding free ‘valuation days’ where you can turn up with your pieces, and find out if you’re holding onto a fortune. *Loads up trunk with charity-shop finds*

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