Mystery cache of rare valuables worth £300,000 goes on show
IT IS the sort of discovery that would make the presenters of television’s Cash in the Attic reach for the smelling salts – a diamond-encrusted Rolex, antique gold coins, jewellery studded with rubies, pearls and sapphires, and handfuls of gold bracelets and diamond rings.
But this mysterious cache of desirables is not about to turn up on Antiques Roadshow any time soon, as the haul was the result of an accidental discovery made during a police operation in Dumbarton last month.
Detectives are now appealing for help in tracing the original owners of the items, most of which are distinctive, with some classed as unique, possibly bespoke design.
A conservative estimate of the value of this glittering collection is between £200,000 and £300,000.
Some of the unusual items recovered include pristine South African Kruggerand coins, which can sell for £1,200 each, a chunky antique-looking gold ring studded with a diamond and bearing the words “Quarter Century Service”, and a silver pendant depicting a howling wolf sitting on a diamond-inlaid crescent moon.
One of the most striking pieces is a small gold pendant in the shape of grand piano. Encrusted with rubies, sapphires and with a keyboard composed of minute pearls, the clasp on the piano’s “lid” opens to reveal fine, individual gold strings, and more pearls and rubies. Police believe it to be a one-off item, created especially for the owner.
Officers have said many of the items recovered were made of 22-carat gold, the sort preferred in Asian or Arabic countries, and that only one item was found with a price tag attached – a slim gold bangle with a bar code and sticker reading “£725”.
Appealing for help to trace the owners, Detective Sergeant Martin Penny, of Dumbarton CID, said: “The jewellery is all different so I believe that they do not belong to one person but to many different people.
“The items range from antique gold to brightly coloured gold, and include a Rolex watch, a Baume and Mercier watch, gold and diamond rings, earrings, charm bracelets and other gold and diamond bracelets.
“Efforts to trace the owners of the items have taken our inquiries to places as far away as Hong Kong. Inquiries with Rolex have revealed that the watch was sent to a distributor there in 1992, but has since been altered by the addition of stones around the casing and on the bracelet. This would have had to have been done professionally.
“Maybe there is a jeweller out there who remembers doing this work or has seen it.”
He said the value of the Rolex watch – believed to be around £18,000 originally – had been reduced because it had been tampered with and the strap encrusted with diamonds.
Some of the items showed other signs of personalisation. One diamond ring had been modified so as to accommodate an arthritic finger, while the mechanism of a pocket watch had been etched with writing.
DS Penny said he hoped that the charm bracelets would be claimed: “Somebody’s going to recognise these things, because you collect the charms and put them on yourself. I am not convinced that the coins or the jewellery are owned locally and so all police forces in the country have been alerted.”
Police remained tight-lipped about the circumstances in which the haul was discovered, citing operational reasons. However they confirmed that the person found in possession of the cache had been sought in relation to other offences.
The majority of the items had been kept in an ornate wooden jewellery box, while others were stored in a holdall.
DS Penny said that if the original owners could not be traced, it would not be a simple case of the pieces being put up for sale in a police auction.
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