Dazzling 'Lost And Found' Diamond Nina P. West, Artfact.com 04.04.07, 12:01 AM ET The sale of a diamond ring at a Midwest auction house was remarkable not so much for its price but for the unusual circumstances surrounding its sale. The 3.75-carat sparkler was discovered in an abandoned safe deposit box and was sold to a private buyer on eBay. In todays electronic age, more and more traditional brick and mortar auction houses, like Apple Tree Auction Center in Ohio, are tapping into a global market by using eBay Live Auctions (via Artfact). Bidding started at a mere $8,500. The final selling price of $37,375 was a bargain considering the overall quality, cut and color. Auctioning off the contents of unclaimed safe deposit boxes is a big business in the U.S., producing an estimated 23 billion in sales over the years. Thousands of safe deposit boxes are declared abandoned each year and by law, banks may sell their contents after unsuccessful attempts to find the rightful owners. If a safe deposit box owner does not receive a bill or chooses to ignore it, in time, an auction house will be called in to review the contents. Artfact Analysis: One wonders why someone would leave an $85,000 diamond ring left behind. Apparently, it happens all the time. Usually its a case of people who died without letting heirs know about the existence of the property. Sometimes the safe deposit boxes are simply forgotten and the owners move away. Occasionally bank mergers are to blame, where records are lost in a corporate shuffle. On the positive side, the proceeds from the sales are stashed away in state unclaimed money funds to earn interest. In some states, the interest adds up enough to provide critical funding for education and other state programs. Should the rightful owner of the property ever appear, they would receive the sale proceeds. It appears 2007 will be a great year to sell a diamond ring at auction. Prices for rare jewels have never been higher with Christies and Sothebys announcing a 15% to 20% increase in diamond sales in 2006. At the very top of the market, Christies sold a clear, flawless 50.53 carat diamond ring to an Asian buyer for $4.22 million.