Earlier this year in the U.K., a gold pendant narrowly escaped a refinery furnace when expert appraisers identified it as a 500-year-old antique worth more than £13,500 (about $20,000).
The anonymous owner of the pendant claimed to have found it while gardening 30 years ago in Dorton, Buckinghamshire. The owner was completely unaware of its value until trying to sell it alongside some other unused jewelry to a local jeweler, who recognized the pendant as potentially significant.
Buckinghamshire County Museum confirmed the find and utilized grants to buy the piece via private sale, since it was found prior to the Parliament’s 1996 Treasure Act. A religious artifact, the pendant features the annunciation of the Virgin Mary on one side, and man in bishop’s robes on the other. Museum experts believe the bishop is Thomas Becket, and the pendant is a keepsake of a pilgrimage to his tomb in Canterbury.
After 30 years in business, we’ve seen our fair share of strange pieces pass through the refinery. Luckily, none of it has been of historical significance. But since it’s been known to happen, we keep our eyes open while we thoroughly assay everything that comes through.