The story behind the ring‘The fact he had a child that died, and he didn’t tell me? That’s hugely traumatic.’

As heard on Today with Sean O'Rourke

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Have you ever thought, looking at an item for sale on a classified ad, ‘I wonder what the story is behind this item for sale?’

Think about it. The extraordinary range of items people are selling, many of them hugely personal. Items purchased, probably brand-new, which meant the world at the time to somebody, but now find themselves parting company with their once-loving owners.

On Today with Sean O’Rourke, reporter Brian O’Connell unearthed one such story, and if you take just two minutes to listen to it above, it may well change your perception the next time you scroll through the classified advert section of a newspaper or website.

‘18 carat cluster diamond ring. Brand-new, never worn. White gold band, valued at €4,950. Will sell for €1,000. Also, 18 carat cluster diamond ring. Brand-new, again, never worn. Valued at €7,000. I will sell it for €1,000.’

Brian uncovered this advert in the classified section of the Cork Evening Echo, one of the few newspapers still running classified ads, as the market has migrated online.

€12,000 worth of jewellery for sale for €2,000? It seems like an extraordinary bargain. But why is the woman in question selling at such a price? ‘I need the money because my son needs orthodontic treatment,’ she said. ‘So, I thought, time to sell the rings.’

The rings were given to the woman by her former partner. The relationship ended a long time ago and, in her own words, ‘any emotional attachment is long gone.’

It was a five-year relationship, which produced two children. But the story behind its ending left Sean O’Rourke, for one, in shock.

One day, when her daughter was just one year old, the woman was walking through Debenhams. Another woman passed her by, glanced at her child, and was visibly taken aback. This woman said the child reminded her of her own baby, who had died a few years previously. In fact, she said, ‘she is the spitting image of her’.

‘Then I told her my partner’s name. And she said ‘yes, that was my daughter’s father.’

Needless to say, both women were stunned.

‘I was dumbstruck. I overlooked the fact that he had had a previous relationship that he hadn’t told me about. But the fact that he had a child that died, and he didn’t tell me about it, that’s hugely traumatic.’

The second woman then produced a picture of herself, the daughter who had died, and the father, the three of them together. ‘It was like my daughter’s twin sister,’ she recalled thinking. ‘How could he keep it a secret?’

His excuse? He said it was something he wanted to forget about, because of the trauma. ‘It was something he wanted to forget about, as if it didn’t happen.’ But she wasn’t convinced.

If he could keep something like that from his partner, what else was he withholding?

‘So then I just said, no, let’s go our separate ways. This is too bizarre. I was heartbroken at the time, but I’m over it now. I think I dodged a bullet, to be honest.’

What an extraordinary story.

And so, the next time you see a vintage watch, a piece of jewellery, any kind of an antique, or even some nice clothing on sale in a classified advert, take a moment to think of the person at the other end of the sales process. You never know what their story is.

To listen to the full interview with Brian, featuring some other interviewees behind classified adverts, click here

© The Listener 2017

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