How to spot a real di­a­mond

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - CANADA/WORLD - Genna Buck Metro | Toronto

Ear­lier this month, a ring that a Bri­tish woman bought at a yard sale in the 1980s sold for over $1 mil­lion at an auc­tion.

As­sum­ing it was a pretty cos­tume piece, she’d been wear­ing the price­less, an­tique-cut di­a­mond — whose sil­ver set­ting had long turned black — nearly ev­ery day for years.

Many of us have piles of old jew­ellery be­queathed from longde­parted grannies or aun­ties, stuffed into draw­ers or sit­ting in bags at the bot­tom of clos­ets. How do you know if you’re sit­ting on a for­tune? Pre­cious jew­ellery looks pre­cious from all an­gles, while cos­tume jew­ellery of­ten has hid­den parts that look busted. Look at a stone from the bot­tom or back. If you can see the gem through the set­ting, or there’s ma­te­rial with a rough, stip­pled or stucco tex­ture, or it looks like there’s a bit of foil or a piece of mir­ror stuck on, it’s prob­a­bly not very valu­able. Pre­cious gems usu­ally feel very cool to the touch, while glass feels a bit warmer. Plas­tic heats up in your hand very quickly. His­tor­i­cally, cos­tume jew­ellery acted as a walk­ing ad­ver­tise­ment for it­self. If a piece has a vis­i­ble stamp or hall­mark, there’s a good chance it’s not go­ing to make you a mil­lion­aire. That’s changed with to­day’s brands — many con­tem­po­rary Ti any’s prod­ucts promi­nently dis­play the let­ter T, for in­stance.

We asked Dun­can Parker, vice-pres­i­dent and jew­ellery spe­cial­ist at Dupuis Fine Jew­ellery Auc­tion­eers. These are his top tips on how to spot a fake — and when to get some­thing ap­praised, just in case. Cheaper ma­te­ri­als used in cos­tume jew­ellery, such as cop­per and zinc, weigh more than pre­cious met­als. Weight isn’t a great in­di­ca­tor of value. If it looks like the colour has worn o at the cor­ners or edges, and a di er­ent-coloured metal is show­ing through, that’s a dead give­away that an item is cheap enough to let the kids play dress-up with it. A lot of ine jew­ellery from the past might look “hideous” to mod­ern eyes, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valu­able, Parker said. A woman once came to him with a black­ened tiara in a plas­tic shop­ping bag, as­sum­ing it was worth­less. It turned out this junk-shop ind was a tar­nished sil­ver piece that dated from Vic­to­rian times. Its weird pink gems were rare conch pearls from the Caribbean. It was worth $44,000.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The ring that was auc­tioned for more than $1 mil­lion boasts a 26-carat di­a­mond.

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