18 Jun 2012

Stolen Jewellery Recovered

Stolen Jewellery Recovered Image

Stolen Jewellery Recovered

A white gold and diamond, Victorian tiara was among a number of treasured family jewels that went missing when the Duchess of Argyll set down her hand luggage at Glasgow Airport in June 2006. The small bag contained a fine, three-string pearl necklace, a Cartier brooch, a large emerald ring and a beautiful pair of pearl earrings.  The Duchess, who had been travelling back to Inveraray Castle from London, reported the theft of the five items to the Glasgow Airport Police and the Art Loss Register, in the hope that one day the pieces would resurface.

Exactly six years later, the Duchess spotted her Cartier brooch being offered for sale at Edinburgh Auction House, Lyon & Turnbull, and turned to the Art Loss Register ("ALR") for help.  The brooch, which consists of brilliant clusters of diamonds and dark blue sapphires, had been made by Cartier for the Duchess's grandmother and is completely unique.

The ALR alerted Lyon & Turnbull who contacted their consignor, a local jewellery dealer who bought the brooch along with a necklace from a Glasgow diamond merchant in 2008.  Not surprisingly, the ALR identified the second piece purchased as the Duchess's missing three-string pearl necklace. 

Further investigations revealed that the Glasgow dealer was still in possession of the Tiara, having purchased it along with the necklace, brooch and emerald ring in September 2006.  All four pieces had been sold as unclaimed property by the British Airports Association ("BAA") who gave the proceeds of sale to charity.

In June 2012, thanks to the cooperation of Lyon & Turnbull, BAA, and both jewellery dealers, the ALR successfully recovered the tiara, necklace and brooch. The Art Loss Register handled the delicate negotiations that led to the recovery of these valuable items.

"I am impressed by the professionalism and cooperation exhibited by Lyon & Turnbull, BAA, and the two jewellery dealers that handled these pieces.  There was a genuine desire to do the right thing even before the parties knew the identity of the theft victim."

While the parties are still working on tracing the emerald ring and pearl earrings, the Duchess was overjoyed by the recovery of the three pieces.  "I am absolutely amazed. I thought that after six years I'd lost them forever."  She said of the jewels: "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. So everything was very special. When I spotted the brooch, I couldn't believe it."

The Art Loss Register which registers, searches for, and recovers stolen and missing unique pieces of jewellery is appealing for information on the two unrecovered items:

STOLEN: Platinum ring with large, square-cut emerald, surrounded by two rows of diamonds, early 20th Century. Image to right.

STOLEN: A pair of stud earrings each with a central pearl surrounded by small pink tourmalines and diamonds, mounted in yellow gold, late 20th Century, made on commission by Elisabeth Gage. No image availible.