Belt bought in charity shop on holiday for £5 sells for £1,900

A belt bought for a fiver at a charity shop on a Caribbean holiday has sold for 380 times the amount after turning out to be a French designer treasure. A holidaymaker purchased the item for £5 during a trip to Barbados in 2019 - but assumed it was a fake despite bearing Chanel’s unmistakable CC logo.

And she was left stunned when jewellery experts confirmed the glittering belt, shimmering with crystals, was a genuine vintage Chanel worth much more. The bargain belt has now sold at auction for £1,900 after going under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, Derbys.,

The owner, of Harborough, Leicestershire., said: "I often pick up things from charity shops. It never occurred to me it could be genuine. On reflection, I have to smile at the Bajan lady who was volunteering in the shop.

"She suggested it might be a nice decoration for my Christmas tree.”

The item turned out to be too valuable to enhance the festive decorations after being identified as an genuine Chanel by jewellery expert Kate Bliss. Made in France in the 1990s, the Runway aurora rhinestone diamond-paste belt was a style famously modelled by Linda Evangelista in Chanel’s 1995 Ready-to-Wear fashion show.

The seller added: “I brought it back to England after a holiday in Barbados in 2019. I wore it a couple of times as a necklace but found it a bit blingy so it just sat in its box.

"Then, earlier this year, I went to the Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. When I saw the jewellery on display it reminded me of the belt.

“On closer inspection I found a Chanel mark and date and decided to take it along to a valuation day hosted by jewellery expert Kate Bliss and Hansons Auctioneers at Albert’s Archives in North Kilworth, Leicestershire. I was thrilled to meet Kate and learn more about the belt. It turned out to be genuine.”

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “Initially we expected the belt to realise between £400 and £600 but after research guided it at £1,000-£1,500. It hammered at £1,400 and the premium-inclusive total paid by a bidder in the United States was £1,954. Vintage designer clothes and accessories are in demand.

“We’ve seen some amazing UK charity shop finds but have never come across a bargain find from as far away as Barbados. It’s a great return for a holiday discovery.”

Coco Chanel (1883-1971) was innovative in introducing costume jewellery and accessories. She encouraged women to wear fashion jewellery and led by example. She believed jewellery wasn’t worn to demonstrate wealth but to adorn.

The first costume jewellery from the House of Chanel emerged in 1914. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Chanel costume jewellery was more consistently marked. When designer Karl Lagerfeld joined Chanel in 1983 the brand’s familiar CC logo was featured more predominantly.