Tide pod
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
May 31, 2024 ·  4 min read

Women Spent $2 On Necklace That Resembled a Tide Pod, But It Turned Out to be Worth Thousands

Antiques and trinkets are popular among collectors because they are a beautiful piece of history. However, they aren’t just historic. Sometimes, someone stumbles upon something that is also incredibly valuable. For example, one woman purchased a unique vintage necklace for $2 only to find out it was worth thousands more.

Thrifting for a Necklace

A necklace pinned on a corkboard with thumbtacks in the background.
“Photo Credit: @thehappygravedigger | TikTok

Jess Smith is a 23-year-old artist from Pennsylvania. She loves to go thrift shopping and was at her favorite shop, looking through the “giant necklace rack” in 2023 when she stumbled upon a necklace that some have deemed the “Tide Pod” necklace because of its unique design. Jess explained that she does this at least once a week. “I saw this really weird necklace hanging there with this giant clear pendant on it. And when I say giant, I mean it was a big pendant, easily two by two or three by three inches,” she said. “It was neon, translucent, and I thought it was made of plastic.”

Researching the Necklace

Looking up the necklace on Google Lens.
“Photo Credit: @thehappygravedigger | TikTok

Smith thoroughly examined the necklace, noting a small inscription that appears to say 1973. “It was $1.99, so I figured I might as well get it. It’s pretty funky-looking. I’ll wear it,” she explained. Jess, often referring to Google Lens, uploaded a picture and searched for related content. “I don’t like to sell things, but I like to keep stuff in my collection and know what it is,” she shared. After some research, she believed the necklace had been designed by an artist from Pittsburgh, Aaronel deRoy Gruber.

While she wasn’t an expert, she believed she’d stumbled upon something incredible, a genuine piece of art. “Instantly, I was like, ‘Wow, this is so cool. Now what do I do with this necklace?’” Jess explained. After a little more research she found a page on Instagram dedicated to the former artist and her husband.

An Expert Responds

A close up of a necklace with a tiny inscription.
“Photo Credit: @thehappygravedigger | TikTok

She reached out and less than 24 hours later, Brittany Reilly, the foundation’s director responded.

The first thing she said to me was, ‘I don’t even have to see it in person. I know that is a real Gruber necklace,'” Jess said. “She also said it’s a really special piece because Gruber made quite a few different necklaces — they don’t know how many — but each one has a completely unique color palette and form.” She noted that Reilly estimated the necklace’s value to be between $2,800 and $3,200.

Making a Selfless Decision

Close up of a colorful necklace against a white background.
“Photo Credit: @thehappygravedigger | TikTok

[Reilly] said, ‘Of course you can keep it. It’s yours. Appreciate it, enjoy it — that’s what Aaronel would want,'” Smith said. “Another option is that she could connect me with private collectors who would pay the full $3,000+ price.” Despite the necklace’s value, Jess isn’t ready to sell it but also believes she can’t wear it “unless it’s for something special.” So she came up with another solution. She opted to donate the necklace to a museum so it can be enjoyed by “as many people as possible.”

The loan lasts about a year, so I’m probably going to keep it for a while after and then send it back,” she said. “It’ll be multiple cycles of doing that before I even think about selling it.”

About the Artist

Aaronel deRoy Gruber was born in 1918 and was “interested in drawing” very early. Between 1936 and 1940 she attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, where she earned a Bachelor of Science. She went through a series of artistic ventures, exploring more than just the stunning necklace.

Her Art Journey

Multidimensional plexiglass art display.
“Photo Credit: @thehappygravedigger | TikTok

She started her art journey with abstract painting and then began working with creating metal sculptures. However, in the 1960s, she became inspired by another artist, David Smith, and began experimenting with plastic creations, including Jess’ plexiglass necklace. “Seeing David’s field of steel sculptures there was most inspiring,” Aaronel said once. “He influenced me because his works were so dynamic and powerful.” Her works are featured in several museums worldwide, including the Smithsonian Institution and the Kawamura Museum of Modern Art in Japan. 

This colorful and unique necklace is a precious and quirky find that lends weight to the idea that it may be worth antiquing or shopping second-hand. After all, you never know what treasures may be tucked away on the necklace rack or hidden under piles of miscellaneous items.

Read More: Study Finds That Sisters Help Protect Siblings From Depression


  1. Aaronel deRoy Gruber The Irving and Aaronel deRoy Gruber Foundation
  2. A woman spent $2 on a unique necklace that resembled a Tide Pod. It turned out to be a one-of-a-kind art piece worth $3,000.Insider for Yahoo News. Amanda Krause. August 29, 2023.