The jaw-dropping heavyweight jewellery was spotted by Andreo Montanino in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter in the window of a bullion dealer – and he couldn’t bear to think of it being scrapped.
“My nan would have hated that,” said the 33-year-old senior buyer from Trowell, Nottinghamshire. “She was highly religious, a Roman Catholic who originated from Italy. She believed items like this, Jesus on the cross, were sacred and should be treated with the utmost respect.
“I lost her about 18 months ago. She was in her 80s. As soon as I saw that cross, it reminded me of her. I had to buy it for nan. I had to save it from being melted down. I was in the right place at the right time. I found it at a bullion place where people send gold to be scrapped and items are usually processed quickly.
“That was three months ago. Now I hope bringing it to auction will help me find someone who will treasure it. Because it’s so special, a showpiece, it would work well if it was worn around the neck of a famous boxer on the walkout to the ring, someone like Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua.
“It’s perfect for a sportsman, celebrity or someone from the music world who likes to make a big statement, perhaps a rapper. I see it featuring on a programme like MTV’s Cribs or being bought by a famous basketball or NFL (National Football League) player.
“I really hope it finds a good home because that’s what nan would have wanted. She lived in Peterborough and was heavily involved with the Italian community and the Catholic church. I remember her buying a statue for her church. Religious icons were important to her.
“She was a wonderful nan and as the first of her four grandchildren I had to do right by her. It would be interesting to know who commissioned the cross originally. No-one I have shown it to has ever seen anything like it before. I think it could be the biggest necklace of its kind in the UK.”
The hefty cross and chain, which together weigh around 1.5 kilos, will be offered at Hansons Auctioneers on September 22 with an estimate of £30,000. The 9ct gold belcher chain has 28 13mm links, one hallmarked ‘Sheffield 1997 JH & S’. It weighs 1145gms in total. The 9ct gold crucifix is 316.7gms and 21cm in length – longer than an average adult male hand which is 19.3cm or 7.6ins.
Helen Smith, Head of Jewellery at Hansons, said: “I have never seen anything like this, or as big as this, before and we might not see anything like it again. It’s extra special. The chain links are huge and quality workmanship has gone into creating the iconic religious imagery of the crucifix.
“I love that Andreo bought this to honour his nan. It certainly deserves to go round the neck of a man who excels in sport or an important celebrity. It’s really heavy so if you plan to wear it for any length of time you need to be strong! Tyson Fury would be perfect as he is a devout Christian. Like Andreo’s nan, he would appreciate the religious significance and symbolism of the item.
“Gold is soaring in value at the moment so it’s a good investment piece too. It deserves to remain intact – not melted down for scrap. Let’s hope we can save it for posterity –and Andreo’s nan.”