A diamond ring bought at a flea market for $13 in the 1980s has gone to a buyer at Sotheby’s for $847k, smashing its pre-sale estimate.
The seller had acquired the ring (pictured, above right) at a car-boot sale — an informal British junk market — on the assumption it was only costume jewelry. However, the stone turned out to be a real, 26.29-carat, VVS2-clarity diamond.
A member of the international trade bought the piece — which has been dubbed the “Tenner,” after its original pound price — on Wednesday for $32,243 per carat, Sotheby’s said following its Fine Jewels auction in London. Before the sale, the auction house had drawn an estimate of $322,675 to $451,745, or up to $17,183 per carat.
$848K ring not the only big seller
At the same event, a Cartier diamond brooch that late UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wore on several public occasions fetched $104,869, proceeds from which will go to a charity for injured and sick army servicemen and -women.
“It was a thrill to bring the hammer down on two objects which have been the subject of so much interest and attention over the last few weeks and to see that attention translate into such strong bidding competition,” said Jessica Wyndham, head of Sotheby’s London jewelry department.
The variety of items on offer, as well as the broad mix of collectors attending from around the world, helped drive many lots’ final prices to well above their estimates, Wyndham added.
The auction as a whole brought in $6.7 million, selling 80% by lot and 92% by value.