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A Rare & Coveted Diamond Discovered at a Car Boot Sale

For many decades, almost every weekend morning through the Spring and Summer months in England, scores of people arrive in car parks, school playgrounds and sports fields to lay out tables of pre-loved wares for keen, eagle-eyed collectors. In 2019 it was estimated that 45,000 car boot sales happen each year, with 13 million shoppers making purchases - anything from vintage clothing and furniture to classic 80s children’s toys and pristine unused sports equipment. Occasionally though, you might even discover an actual treasure... whether you realise it or not. In the late 1980s, one woman made such a discovery. Nestled in a box of costume jewels, the cocktail ring wasn’t even the thing that caught her eye; she was actually more interested in some bangles. But as so often happens at a car boot fair, the box was sold as a job lot and the ring went home with her.

It was only in 2017, thirty years after that unremarkable car boot sale purchase, when the owner was cleaning her spare room and an old jewelry box fell onto the floor, that the ring rolled out and caught the light, prompting her to wonder if it might be worth a little more than she had realised. Without particularly high hopes, she took it along to a local jeweler who immediately knew that he was looking at something special. Not only did he suspect it was a real diamond, but it was too big even for him to measure the carats accurately. When the owner followed up by calling Sotheby’s to arrange an appointment, she still had no idea of its true value. Because this wasn’t just any diamond. At an enormous 26.27 carats, the cushioned shaped jewel, with a colour grade of I and an impressive clarity grade of VVS2, was a spectacular example. Once Sotheby’s had the diamond confirmed as genuine by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the story of the car boot sale find – suitably nicknamed the “Tenner” diamond – went viral, making international headlines. When it went under the hammer in Sotheby’s London showroom, the estimate was £350,000.

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