The value of jewellery is not always necessarily in the rarity and expense of its rare materials but in the story it tells through its design and its history.
An obvious example of this is seen with the popularity of heart jewellery around Valentine’s Day or anniversaries of long and deeply loving relationships, but can also be found in other, somewhat more novel ways.
A very good example of this was found in the book Masquerade by Kit Williams, which featured clues to the location of a buried and beautiful golden hare pendant, which was seen as so valuable and desirable that people hunted for years to find it and it sold for six times its estimate at auction.
It was also so desired that the man who “won” the prize was a cheater who had manipulated people close to Mr Williams to get information as to its whereabouts, who later used the hare as collateral for a poorly received computer game called Hareraiser.
This entire debacle and the publicity that ensued caused Mr Williams to disappear from the limelight, but before he did there was one more contest that he ran, one where the goal was not to find a buried treasure but to find a name.
The Untitled Bee Book
Two years after Masquerade was solved by “Dugald Thompson” (real name Ken Thomas), Mr Williams, allegedly at the urging of his publishers after the runaway success of Masquerade, would publish a second armchair treasure hunt book, this time with a statue of a queen bee the prize for the winner.
Unlike the first book, there was no digging and no buried treasure, likely due to the chaos surrounding the last book. Instead, all someone had to do was discover the name of the book and creatively express it without using the written word itself. The most creative expression would win.
As well as this, rather than allow the adventure to last for years, the contest would last a year and a day, running from 24th May 1984 until 25th May 1985, when the winner would be announced live on an episode of the highly popular BBC chat show Wogan.
After a year of submissions, six finalists were chosen to appear on Wogan, and the name of the book was revealed to be The Bee on the Comb, with the story being based around a beekeeper, elaborate woodcut drawings and the changing of the seasons.
The winner would receive not only a statue of a queen bee designed by Mr Williams himself in a style similar to the Golden Hare but also the only copy of the book with the title on it.
Compared to Masquerade, The Bee On The Comb is far easier to solve, with three main parts. Animal hybrids reveal that the next clue is in Morse Code, the code reveals that each of the paintings has a hidden animal, and the last letter of each animal spells out the book’s name.
Ultimately, the winner was Steve Pearce, who designed a small cabinet that when turned depicted a bee on the comb.
However, the pressure of the spotlight, combined with learning that he had been tricked by Ken Thomas after the Hareraiser fiasco led to him largely withdrawing from public life.