#71 - Don't Throw The Key Away

Posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2020 at 3:55 pm by LaLonde Jewelers

I was appraising a large jewelry estate recently, there were over 400 pieces. A lot of it was junk but there were a few nice pieces. For the time I spent it was looking like the appraisal fee was going to be higher than the value of the jewelry. This happens sometimes but I have to charge for my time. I probably shouldn’t feel bad, but I do and usually lower my fees. Sometimes there are other multiples in the estate like real estate or stocks and bonds that more than make up for the dismal jewelry equation.

Well, in this group was a key. Aside from the fact that it was in a bank envelope with a number, I instantly recognized it was a bank Safety Deposit Box key. Now, by the bank’s name I can see it is no longer in business, but I am sure that it can be traced, and on the appraisal, I strongly advised that this should be looked into. It probably would require attorneys and a judge’s order to get into the box.

I have stood before some of these boxes with attorneys, bank officials, and orders from the courts with everyone teetering on what I am about to tell them, what amount I value the box.

Well here I was, and I got a call from a Trust officer in Honolulu It seemed she had found a key. Yes, a safety deposit box key. She had gone thru the process of the courts and gained access to the box and low and behold I spent the next two weeks in a vault at a bank in Honolulu looking at over 2 million dollars’ worth of jewelry. More amazing than that was who owned the jewelry.

One day, while at the Trust company there was a woman yelling at the top of her lungs demanding her check disbursement from the Trust. She was older with a long-tattered dress with white hair and I recognized her as the lady who pushed a shopping cart around Honolulu with plastic bags hanging of the sides. This was the woman who's jewelry I had been appraising. Unbelievably, she was one of the wealthiest persons in Honolulu, and yet she was living this way.

So, my advice to you when you see a key that looks like a safety deposit box key, don’t throw it away.

Written by Dan LaLonde, G.G., G.I.A.
Lalonde Jewelers & Gemologists
The Gem Expert