A ring bought at a flea market is heading for auction in the UK, after experts discovered it was a genuine diamond worth up to $450,000.
The owner of the ring bought it in the 1980s for just £10 (around $12), believing it to be a piece of costume jewelry.
However, when a friend recently suggested it could be valuable she took it to Sotheby’s for appraisal – and was amazed to discover it was a real diamond weighing an enormous 26.27 carats.
The ring will now cross the auction block in London on June 7, where it’s expected to sell for £250,000 – £350,000 ($320,875 – $449,225).
"No-one had any idea it had any intrinsic value at all," Jessica Wyndham, head of Sotheby’s London Jewelry department, told the BBC. "The owner would wear it out shopping, wear it day-to-day…they enjoyed it all this time."
"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."
The owner had originally assumed the ring was fake, as the large stone was set in an old discoloured mount and didn’t sparkle.
However, this dull appearance was down to techniques previously used by diamond cutters during the 19th century.
"With an old style of cutting, an antique cushion shape, the light doesn’t reflect back as much as it would from a modern stone cutting," explained Wyndham.
"Cutters worked more with the natural shape of the crystal, to conserve as much weight rather than make it as brilliant as possible."
Having worn the ring almost every day for more than three decades, never knowing she had a fortune on her finger, the owner – who wishes to remain anonymous – is now set to receive a life-changing sum of money.
"This is a one-off windfall, an amazing find," said Wyndam. "The majority of us can’t even begin to dream of owning a diamond that large."