The average Brit owns nearly £500 worth of unused jewellery.
Half of women in the UK wear less than 20% of their collection, while the nation as a whole wears only a third of their jewellery regularly, so they might as well cash in while gold and silver prices are high.
To put it into perspective, the £24 billion figure exceeds the GDP of many nations across the globe including Kenya, Costa Rica and Uruguay and is more than triple the GDP of Iceland. It is also higher than the net worth of any UK-based individual featuring in the recent Sunday Times Rich List.
A survey of 2,000 adults, which came as a new series called Gold Rush aired on the Discovery Channel at 9pm last night, found that the average British adult hoards about £475 of jewellery, more than half of which is made up of gold or silver. The value of the two precious metals has hit all-time highs in recent weeks, as investors seek a safe haven for their investments. More recently prices have started falling again, though, leading experts to wonder whether the commodity price boom is coming to an end.
How to avoid being ripped off
Over half the population attribute sentimental reasons for their reluctance to sell any of their jewellery, whilst a further one in six are scared of getting ripped off in any sale.
Indeed, some places that want to buy your gold by post offer shockingly bad value. And you should be wary of gold parties that turn out to be scams. The best thing to do is to shop around – try local jewellers, pawn shops and different gold firms. Even Tesco now offers to buy your old gold.
Simon Downing, VP Marketing, Discovery Networks Western Europe, said: "Brits love their gold and silver so it's no surprise that we are sitting on a treasure trove of riches. With the price of precious stones near an all-time high, our compelling new series Gold Rush shows how far people are prepared to go to strike it rich."
Gold Rush follows a group of men who take the life-changing decision to give up their everyday lives in Oregon and head to Alaska to set up their own gold mine. The series airs every Tuesday at 9pm on Discovery Channel.
The most popular items of unworn jewellery
Birmingham is the epicentre of the UK's hidden gold mine, with the average worth of unused precious stones of those living in the West Midland a huge £627. The Scots were not far behind, with their unused jewellery valued at £620 per individual, with Londoners third at just over £500.