The most expensive piece of unclaimed property ever to be auctioned by the West Virginia Treasurer's Office comes from a Hancock County safe-deposit box.
The two-carat diamond engagement ring, turned over to the Treasurer's Office recently by an unnamed Hancock County bank, is one of the many items currently up for bid in the annual unclaimed property auction, which lasts through Thursday.
The online auction features unclaimed property - jewelry, coins, stamps, historic currency, antiques - that has been left behind in safe-deposit boxes. Anyone is eligible to bid and may do so by going to: www.WVTreasury.com and clicking on "Unclaimed Property Online Auction."
This ring — valued at $14,000 — was found in an area bank and will be auctioned by the West Virginia Treasurer's Office. -- Contributed
"We're excited because you just don't see many rings like this," said State Treasurer John Perdue. "To date, this is the highest appraisal an item offered in any of our auctions has ever received. I hope West Virginia residents see what's offered because all of the items came from here."
The 18-karat white gold engagement ring features a two-carat round center diamond. A 14-karat white gold "enhancer," soldered onto the ring on each side, includes 10 smaller diamonds that surround the main stone in two semi-circles.
When a general appraiser saw the ring, he suggested that a certified gemologist examine it. The gemologist, citing the central diamond's size and clarity, appraised the ring at $14,000, the Treasurer's Office said.
The Treasurer's Office declined to release any additional information about the ring's history or provenance, other than that it came from a Hancock County safe-deposit box.
According to the auction website LoneStarOnline.com, the ring has been viewed 1,036 times and has a minimum bid price of $6,150. Whatever money the ring fetches at auction will remain with the unclaimed property account as further attempts are made to find the rightful owner, the office said.
"Go online and have a look," Perdue said. "It can't hurt."
Such auctions are necessary because of insufficient space to hold the merchandise. Bank safe-deposit boxes typically stay dormant for five years before their contents are sent to the Treasurer's Office.
"We continue to try to find the people entitled to inherit these items and this money," Greg Stone, a spokesman for the Treasurer's Office, said in a published report. "The money from safe-deposit box sales stays in the accounts of people who died. A good many people who died forgot to tell their relatives that they kept valuable things in their safe-deposit boxes."
Other items currently up for auction include the April 1910 issue of the Modern Priscilla, a woman's magazine; two tickets from the 1966 World Series between the Baltimore Orioles and the Los Angeles Dodgers; NASCAR commemorative coins; and a gold, 1903 Louisiana Purchase Exposition $1 coin.