A stunning jewellery collection that lay forgotten inside a locked attaché case for 70 years fetched tens of thousands of pounds at auction last Wednesday.
The case was kept closed for seven decades in a house in the far north of Scotland, because the owner lost the key and assumed it contained worthless old family documents.
But when it was forced open, it revealed a sparkling collection of diamond earrings, rings and collars, emeralds and other such treasures, which once belonged to the owner’s grandmother and two maiden aunts.
Clare Blatherwick, Bonhams’ Head of Jewellery in Scotland, said the items only came to light because the owner planned to throw the old crocodile-skin case out. A bout of curiosity made her force the lock first.
Among the 22 valuable items she found were a pair of diamond single-stone earrings, weighing approximately seven carats, sold for AUD $49,851; and a 19th century Indian enamelled necklace with a Footprint of Vishnu (Vishnupada) pendant, which sold for AUD $10,876.
Ms Blatherwick said: ‘This has all the ingredients of a fairy story — a locked case, a missing key and hidden treasure,” said Ms Blatherwick. “There were a lot of boxes of papers and it was assumed this was just another”.
The collection offers a snapshot of 19th century jewellery and design, with items spanning a wide range of styles and gemstones, pearls and diamonds.
‘They are all very high quality and wonderful examples of their type,” said Ms Blatherwick. “And because they have been in this protected environment for so long they are in absolutely super condition.”