$150,000 of Jewelry in Lost Luggage Found Six Years Later

Here’s a reminder that the next time you’re traveling with $150,000 of jewelry, you may not want to check your luggage…

Six years ago, the Duchess of Argyll was flying back to Glasgow, Scotland, after a trip to London. The 68-year-old dowager duchess checked a bag of jewelry that included a Victorian diamond tiara, Cartier brooch, emerald ring and pearl earrings.  All totaled, the bag was worth more than $150,000.

Yes, you guessed it – the bag was lost.

The Duchess filed a complaint with the airport and police authorities, but the bag was never found… or at least that’s what the Duchess believed.

Now it appears as if the bag did resurface, but the airport auctioned the jewelry instead of making any effort to return the items to the Duchess. The jewelry was sold to a British diamond merchant for a mere $7,500 (exactly 5% of the value) and the proceeds were donated to charity, according to Time Magazine.

Earlier this year, the Duchess spotted her Cartier brooch in a Scottish auction catalog (six years after the loss) and she promptly hired a lawyer to investigate. Now, airport authorities are embarrassed by a lost-luggage scandal with high-profile implications.

After offering to reimburse the diamond merchant for his cooperation, operators of Glasgow Airport successfully reunited the Duchess with her brooch and tiara. The emerald ring and pearl earrings are still missing.

The Duchess told the Telegraph that she was “absolutely amazed” that there was still hope for her jewelry to be recovered. “I thought that after six years I’d lost them forever. The tiara was a Victorian family one and the necklace was given to me for my 21st birthday. So everything was very special,” she said.

The Duchess’ lost-baggage story does offer a real-world lesson about traveling with valuable jewelry. Surveys show that two-thirds of travelers bring their precious jewelry on vacation. Here are some traveling tips provided by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company…

Tips for traveling with your jewelry

  • Choose wisely. Pack lightly and take only the jewelry you’ll wear while traveling and at your destination. The 4-carat diamond ring you save for special occasions? Probably not. The cultured pearls that go with everything? Definitely.
  • Make a list. List all the jewelry you’ll take with you. Make two copies. Take one copy with you and store it separately from your jewelry. Leave the other copy at home. Also helpful: take pictures or a video of your jewelry.
  • Carry it on. Never put jewelry in checked bags. Instead, wear it or stow it in your carry-on bag. If you wear it, take extra care by slipping a pendant inside a sweater or turning your ring so only the band shows.
  • Keep it with you. Put your jewelry in a favorite bag you’ll carry while traveling. Don’t leave your jewelry in an unattended car or suitcase. When checking into your hotel or condo, don’t hand your jewelry bag to hotel staff. Carry it personally.
  • Use the safe. Always store jewelry in the in-room safe when you’re not wearing it.
  • Insure it right. Jewelry insurance provides personal jewelry protection against loss, damage, theft and mysterious disappearance wherever your travels take you, worldwide. So get the right insurance. Then relax and have fun.

Another tip from us at Ben David Jewelers:  Make sure you have an updated appraisal of your most valuable jewelry.  It’s important to make sure your insurance coverage accurately reflects the current value of your jewelry.  We can help you get the right appraisal.  Call us at (434) 792-6561.

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