Secret diamond stash returned to Qld woman

A Cairns woman has thanked her late father for leading to the discovery of lost jewels.
A Cairns woman has thanked her late father for leading to the discovery of lost jewels.

A Cairns woman has been reunited with a haul of diamonds given to her by her late father, 17 years after they slipped down the back of a drawer.

The woman had given up hope of ever seeing the uninsured stones again and believed they had been stolen almost two decades ago.

But a scrupulously honest renter, who found them during a cleaning frenzy, has left her with a happy story to tell.

The tenant was preparing to move out of a Cairns unit that had been home for five years when the dazzling beauties were stumbled across in December and handed to police.

"I just never, ever imagined in my wildest dreams that I would ever see these again," the elated owner said after reclaiming the stones on Thursday.

"They were found at the back of a drawer. They must have fallen down the back and have remained there for 17 years."

The woman, who doesn't want to be named, last saw the stones in 2000 after she removed them from a safety deposit box at a local bank so they could be valued.

She took the gems, which were packaged in separate envelopes, home for the night and put them in a drawer for safe keeping. The next day she took the stones with her to work but later discovered one envelope was missing.

She presumed the stones had been stolen from her work and didn't report the "theft" because they were not insured. But she'd never really lost them.

The envelope had somehow fallen over the back of the drawer where it languished in darkness for 17 years.

Late last month, police went public with the story of the mystery diamonds, but as fate would have it the woman was overseas and missed all the news stories.

Police were swamped with calls from 40 people, all believing the gems might be ones they'd lost in thefts over the years.

But none of them had the right supporting evidence and police pressed on with efforts to find all past tenants of the Bungalow unit. Finally, one new name popped up.

"So the call was made ... our lucky lady was able to provide an abundance of supporting evidence to prove beyond doubt that she was indeed the rightful owner of the stones," police said.

The woman has expressed enormous gratitude to the tenant, who would have been allowed to keep the stones if the police effort failed.

"I'm just so incredibly grateful to the person who found them ... this has been absolutely life-changing for me, and I'm certain that my late father has guided them back."

Australian Associated Press