I found a diamond stud earring in the lobby of a hotel once, and I ended up taking ownership of the jewelry, but I jumped through a bunch of hoops first.
I actually worked at the hotel where I found the diamond, and I knew how “porous” our own Lost & Found was. If I had put it through that process, it would have gone missing immediately. I wanted to keep the diamond if it was unclaimed, and I wanted to give the owner the best chance of getting it back. I was young, and this may have not been the wisest decision career-wise, because I did end up getting written up for not following lost & found protocol, but whatever. It all worked out for me.
I first took the diamond to a local jeweler and they were very quickly able to tell me that it was real and would retail for about two grand. They did not offer to buy it from me, but were willing to give me good info on it.
I then took the diamond to the police station thinking that they would hold it for 7 days and if nobody claimed it, I could keep it. It wasn’t that simple. Washington State law at the time said that the timeframe would actually be 90 days. And in that time, I had to run TWO “found item” classified adsin the local newspaper. This cost me about $20. Finally, if nobody claimed the diamond - I could have it…but I had to pay the state of WA 10% of it’s wholesale value ($100), which the police got from a pawn shop. Still, $120 for a nice diamond was definitely worth the time and money.
The police officer in charge of my “case” also contacted my hotel (this is how I got busted at work) and the chairperson of the convention that had been in town. None of these leads turned up anything. Neither did the classified ad I ran.
Regarding the classified ad and the way they listed it in their public records, the police had me list it only as a “eering with yellow colored metal.” As few details as possible so that the real owner would have to describe it exactly in order to take possession.
In the end, Washington law had just changed to make the claim fee a measly $10 per item, regardless of value - and I took possession of the diamond after 90 days. I took it to a jeweler and had it made into an engagement ring.
Pretty much a happy ending, except that the marriage only lasted 5 years. Oh well…