Traversing a field in North Yorkshire, Lee Rossiter’s metal detector made the noise that makes all treasure seekers sweat with anxiety, but when he unearthed a ring, his friend identified it as “costume jewelry,” and suggested he “just throw it away.” Rossiter’s daughter, for whom the metal detector was initially intended, rejected treasure hunting pursuits, and this moment, a moment that far too many treasure hunters are familiar with, seemed to retroactively validate her decision. Or it would have, had the heaviness of the ring not prompted Rossiter to seek out another opinion.
Rossiter’s band of treasure seekers, the Yorkshire Searchers Metal Detecting Club, was being headed by dig organizer, Stuart Littlewood. Littlewood, possessing a more discerning eye than the others, confirmed Rossiter’s sneaking suspicion: that this discovery was anything but ordinary.
The ring, a double-bezel chased finger ring with emerald and ruby insets, features inscriptions written in medieval French. It was most likely worn by a member of medieval Europe royal families.
Usually, an item like this would be auctioned off to a local museum, but despite their eagerness to add the piece to their collection, none of museums could come up with the necessary money. Seeking the counsel of local auctioneer Mark Littler, Rossiter was advised “that an auction might not be the best course of action as the ring would be worth more to a private collector if it had not already been presented to the market."
Speaking on behalf of his client, Littler got into contact with Wartski, a family-owned firm of antique dealers, and negotiated a “five-figure sum.” The proceeds will be split between Rossiter and the landowner.
The Wartski firm, of Mayfair, London, has supplied the royal family with jewelry for generations, so perhaps it is fitting the ring be given to them.
"Jewels of this caliber are extraordinarily rare and it is magical when the ground presents them as gifts to those who look for them,” said Wartski director Kieran McCarthy.
Rossiter, fanning away the lingering cloud of skepticism and dour probability, trusted his gut, and for that, he was rewarded. Maybe there is hope for the rest of us.
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