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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Woman's Jaw Drops on 'Antiques Roadshow' When 'Worthless' Sapphire Values at Over $50,000

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People like to make assessments all the time, whether or not they are experts on the subject they’re expounding upon (and often, they’re not). Casual remarks and off-handed comments can really get to us and be internalized, especially when they’re negative.

One woman had heard — from many jewelers — that a family brooch was nothing but “worthless” costume jewelry. With the brightness of the alleged sapphire and the ridiculous size of the whole piece, perhaps that made some sense.

John Benjamin clearly knows more than those naysayers, though, according to his bio on the “Antiques Roadshow” page.

A fellow of the Gemmological Association, holder of the Association’s Diamond Diploma and the international director of jewelry at Phillips Fine Art Auctioneers, Benjamin — who has years of experience under his belt from a very young age — can pass judgment much more accurately.

And his valuation of the seemingly fake brooch — which the family referred to as “the big blue blob” — absolutely stunned its owner.

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“I inherited it from my grandmother, who gave it to my father, who gave it to me to wear on my wedding day, which I did,” the unnamed guest said during a March 2019 episode of the program that re-aired Sunday, the U.K. Radio Times reported.

“It’s costume jewelry, they didn’t believe us,” she continued, according to Express, another U.K.-based outlet. “They were quite rude to me and my husband. Some people said it was paste, some people said they weren’t real diamonds, some people said they were real diamonds but they weren’t good quality.”

After discussing a bit of the woman’s history on the piece, Benjamin dove into his assessment.

“Well the brooch itself was made about the mid to the end of the 19th century so it is about 130, 140 years old,” he said. “The style of it is actually quite ordinary. It’s a cushion and it’s got a big blue cushion stone surrounded by white stones.”

But nothing else about the brooch was ordinary.

“Then we move on to the issue which is what actually is the blue stone and you’ve been told by some jewelers to take it away, it’s valueless,” he said. “So you’ve been told by a number of jewelers that it’s an inconsequential piece of costume jewelry mounted on a piece of blue glass worth nothing.

“So if I were to say whoever these jewelers were they were talking absolute rubbish, would you be happy to hear that?

“But that sapphire, I’ve done an approximation of the weight of it and I think it weighs 25 to 30 carat. In the world of gemstones that’s quite big actually.”

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He also explained that the bright “cornflower blue” is because the sapphire is from Ceylon, or Sri Lanka — and those surrounding stones? Genuine diamonds.

“The white stones – you were told blithely by a jeweler that these were paste,” he said. “They’re diamonds, mounted up in gold and set in silver and it’s in its original fitted box and it’s an absolute screamer, it really is.”

“Now I have to be honest with you, I’ve done this show for so long I’ve never seen a sapphire of this size ever bought onto the ‘Antiques Roadshow,’ this is a real first time for me. If I were to take such an item of jewelry and consign it to an auction I would expect it to make between £40,000 to £50,000.”

The woman’s mouth fell open and she quickly covered it with her hand.

“Oh my word, I don’t want to swear,” she said. “Blooming heck!”

“Blooming heck indeed, it’s an absolute beauty,” Benjamin confirmed. “What else can I say about it? It’s fabulous.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking