Charity shop Chanel belt sparkles

A vintage belt bought for £5 in a charity shop during a Caribbean holiday has sparked an auction windfall after turning out to be designer treasure.

A Chanel belt

The glittering belt, shimmering with crystals, was discovered in Barbados by a Leicestershire holidaymaker. She wandered into a charity shop and spotted the unusual belt bearing Chanel’s unmistakable CC logo. She assumed it must be a designer fake but liked it anyway and paid £5 for it. 

The Harborough woman said: “I often pick up things from charity shops. It never occurred to me it could be genuine.  On reflection, I have to smile at the Bajan lady who was volunteering in the shop. She suggested it might be a nice decoration for my Christmas tree.”

It turned out to be too valuable to enhance the festive decorations. The belt was identified as genuine vintage Chanel. Made in France in the 1990s, the Runway aurora rhinestone diamond-paste belt was a style famously modelled by Linda Evangelista in Chanel’s 1995 Ready-to-Wear fashion show. It went on to achieve a hammer price of £1,400 in Hansons  Auctioneers’ Derbyshire Spring Fine Art sale.

A Chanel belt that sold at Hansons Auctioneers

The seller said: “I brought it back to England after a holiday in Barbados in 2019. I wore it a couple of times as a necklace but found it a bit blingy so it just sat in its box. Then, earlier this year, I went to the Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. When I saw the jewellery on display it reminded me of the belt.


“On closer inspection I found a Chanel mark and date and decided to take it along to a valuation day hosted by jewellery expert Kate Bliss and Hansons Auctioneers at Albert’s Archives in North Kilworth, Leicestershire. I was thrilled to meet Kate and learn more about the belt. It turned out to be genuine.”

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “Initially we expected the belt to realise between £400 and £600 but after research guided it at £1,000-£1,500. It hammered at £1,400 and the premium-inclusive total paid by a bidder in the United States was £1,954. Vintage designer clothes and accessories are in demand.

Hansons' head of jewellery Helen Smith and saleroom owner Charles Hanson with a jewellery Chanel belt
Hansons’ head of jewellery Helen Smith and saleroom owner Charles Hanson with Chanel belt – Credit Hansons

“We’ve seen some amazing UK charity shop finds but have never come across a bargain find from as far away as Barbados. It’s a great return for a holiday discovery.”

Coco Chanel (1883-1971) was innovative in introducing costume jewellery and accessories. She encouraged women to wear fashion jewellery and led by example, believing items should be worn not to demonstrate wealth but to adorn. 

The first costume jewellery from the House of Chanel emerged in 1914.  However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Chanel costume jewellery was more consistently marked. When designer Karl Lagerfeld joined Chanel in 1983 the brand’s familiar CC logo was featured more predominantly.