Nova Scotia

$50K in diamonds, pearls and gold jewelry accidentally donated to charity

A Halifax woman asked her husband to hide her jewelry before they went out of town, but didn't know he had tucked the gems and gold in a bag she later donated to Diabetes Canada.

Husband had hidden wife's gems and gold in a bag she later donated to Diabetes Canada

Jane Lowe accidentally donated about $50,000 worth of her jewelry to Diabetes Canada. (CBC)

It was one of those moments in life that makes your stomach drop, takes your breath away for a split second and makes you yearn for a time machine.

In early December, Jane Lowe and her husband were heading out of town for a few days, so she asked him to hide her good jewelry just in case of a break-in.

He stashed the freezer bag of jewels and gold worth about $50,000 inside a bag of clothing in the attic of their south-end Halifax home.

This wasn't the first time he had taken care of that task for her. She had never before asked where he had hidden the jewelry, and he had never before mentioned it.

Just before they left town, Lowe called Diabetes Canada to arrange to have them pick up some items they wanted to donate. She placed about six bags outside and thought nothing more of it.

'It seems to have disappeared without a trace,' says Lowe about the jewelry mistakenly donated to charity. (Submitted by Jane Lowe)

A couple of weeks later, when she was back home and getting dressed for a party, she remembered they had stowed her jewelry somewhere.

"I said, 'Where's my jewelry?' And my husband said, 'It's in one of the bags in the attic.' And then we realized what had happened.

"I felt sick. Because there's no getting around it. I'd gotten rid of the bag of clothes."

The bag of jewelry contained a strand of pearls Lowe's father had given her when she was 13, a pendant with a diamond and emerald of a "significant" size, a platinum and diamond ring, a diamond and aquamarine pendant and earring set, gold and pearl mabé​ earrings, diamond and amethyst earrings, four gold bracelets, including one with diamonds, and other gold pieces.

Lowe said the appraised value of the jewelry is about $50,000, but typically, anyone trying to pawn the items would get substantially less.

Lowe's gold bracelet was among the jewelry accidentally donated to charity. (Submitted by Jane Lowe)

The bag also included items that "are not valuable to anyone but me," Lowe said, including her grandmother's imitation-pearl bracelet that both Lowe and her daughter wore on their wedding days.

"There are some things that you could replace, I guess, but some of the things you just couldn't," Lowe said.

Jewelry could be in Africa now

Lowe contacted Diabetes Canada to see if they could help her track down the jewelry, and was told the truck that picked up items from her house that day likely delivered its load to a Value Village store in Charlottetown.

Staff at the store are instructed to bring any items such as bags of jewelry to the attention of the manager, but nothing had been brought forward, Lowe was told.

Lowe's necklace, seen in this wedding photo, is among the lost pieces of jewelry. (Submitted by Jane Lowe)

The manager also told her deliveries from early December had already been processed, and the contents of some bags, such as those containing summer clothes, are quickly bundled up and sent to Africa.

Lowe admits she doesn't hold out a lot of hope that she'll be reunited with her jewelry.

"It doesn't sound promising," she said. "It seems to have sort of disappeared without a trace."

She said although she's sad, she doesn't hold the loss of the jewelry against her husband because she knows it was a mistake.

"My husband's hopeful," she said, laughing. "He said to me, 'I'm surprised you didn't cry.' But I mean what do you do? It's somewhat fruitless to get really worked up about it."

In addition to contacting about eight Value Village stores in the region and the headquarters in B.C., Lowe has been in touch with pawn shops, has been keeping an eye on Kijiji and has filed a police report.

Halifax police confirmed the case has been assigned to an investigator.

In the meantime, Lowe's hopes may rest with her mother — and St. Jude, the patron saint of hope, desperate cases and lost causes.

"My father has a Rolex watch that he's lost three times, I think, and my mother each time has written to St. Jude and they've always found the watch," Lowe said. "So she's absolutely convinced that if she writes to St. Jude that I'll get my jewelry returned."

The family has since offered a reward of "several thousand dollars" for the return of the bag of jewelry. 


Frances Willick is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. Please contact her with feedback, story ideas or tips at


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