Duchess sparkling again after getting back gems she lost in 2006
June 20, 2012
THE “delighted” Dowager Duchess of Argyll has told of her amazement after being reunited with nearly £50,000-worth of jewels she lost six years ago at Glasgow Airport.
It is thought that a thief swiped the “irreplaceable” family heirlooms – then got cold feet and dumped them – after the Duchess had set her hand luggage down.
Her tiara, brooch, a three-string pearl necklace, large emerald ring and a pair of pearl, pink tourmaline and diamond earrings ended up in the airport’s lost property section.
After three months without being claimed they were auctioned off in September 2006 with the proceeds of the sales being donated to charity.
But the Duchess has now got most of her gems back after spotting the missing diamond and sapphire Cartier brooch in another auction catalogue earlier this month.
The Duchess, mother of Torquhil, 13th Duke of Argyll, said: “I am absolutely amazed. I thought that after six years I’d lost them forever. They were absolutely irreplaceable, so I’m incredibly delighted.
“The tiara was a Victorian family one, and the necklace was given to me for my 21st birthday.”
The items were sold for around £5,000 – a tenth of their true worth – to a Glasgow diamond merchant in 2006, with the cash going to good causes.
British Airports Authority (BAA) bosses have now paid a similar sum to get all of the pieces back from various dealers, jewellers and merchants who held them.
The Duchess called in lost and stolen art and antique expert Chris Marinello to track down the lost pieces after spotting her brooch in the sales book of Edinburgh-based auction house Lyon and Turnbull.
She said: “Chris Marinello has been marvellous. I am impressed by the professionalism and co-operation exhibited by Lyon and Turnbull, BAA, and the two jewellery dealers that handled these pieces.
“There was genuine desire to do the right thing even before the parties knew the identity of the theft victim.”
But the emerald ring and the pearl and diamond earrings are still missing.
Mr Marinello said: “The Duchess had the bag of jewels on a trolley at the airport, and all of a sudden they disappeared.
“We think someone may have taken them and got scared off. It was reported to the airport and the police.
“Three months later the airport chooses to sell the pieces. You would think that when someone found a tiara the airport may have done a little extra due diligence.”
A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said: “The items of jewellery were held in lost property at Glasgow Airport. In accordance with procedures at the time, the items were sold after a period of three months and the money raised was donated to charity.”
He said that a change to lost property rules in 2007 meant that all pieces handed in are reported to the police immediately – and regular audits carried out.