This enamel brooch sold at auction for £190. Inset: an early 20th century 18ct sapphire and diamond ring made £170 and, right, the owner of this gold and enamel ‘Hope’ sweetheart ring was astonished when it made £900 at auction.

Treasure hunting for auction: Jewellery specialist’s valuation adventures

I SOMETIMES see myself more as a treasurer hunter than a jewellery valuer, writes Louise Ludlam-Snook.

I like nothing more than being given a box of what to most people looks like rubbish and my challenge is to delve through and find the bits of hidden treasure.

At Richard Winterton Auctioneers we deal with a lot of house clearances, so we get given boxes of mixed jewellery and miscellaneous items and it’s great when you go through and find gold rings, even tiny pieces of broken gold jewellery and earring backs.

We’ll pick it out and bag it up – it all adds up.

The haul included this gold and enamel ‘Hope’ sweetheart ring, which went under the hammer for £900.
The owner of this gold and enamel ‘Hope’ sweetheart ring was astonished when it made £900 at auction.

There’s a real sense of achievement when you tell a vendor that you’ve found hundreds of pounds worth of jewellery in a box of items they thought was rubbish.

Our goal is to get as much as we can for our clients.

When people bring items in for valuation, they often just hand over bits they think are of value as they don’t want to waste your time.

At auction this early 20th century 18ct sapphire and diamond ring sold for £170.
At auction this early 20th century 18ct sapphire and diamond ring sold for £170.

But I always ask to see everything because, in many cases, the items perceived to be valuable aren’t and the things dismissed as rubbish have hidden treasures amongst them.

Even low value items can be grouped together and made into a lot to sell at auction, so it’s always worth us looking through.

We can then organise pieces into lots that will sell best at auction.

This enamel brooch sold at £190.
This enamel brooch sold at £190.

Often people are selling items they have inherited or sorting through a deceased relative’s estate, which means they don’t know what they’re dealing with – they haven’t bought these pieces so therefore have no idea of their value.

Dealing with decades worth of purchases by someone else is quite an overwhelming task at often a highly emotional and stressful time.

So enlisting the help of a reputable auction house like Richard Winterton’s can really ease the pressure and help people realise the best prices for their loved ones’ pieces.

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