An abandoned safe-box in a New York City bank is opened to reveal a treasure trove - a bundle of old letters, photographs and a collection of priceless jewellery. Among the stunning jewels are a wedding ring and a locket with a baby photograph in it. But there is no will in the box, nor anything that refers to a next of kin.
Charged with discovering more, court clerk Jane Willoughby is caught up in the mystery of the box's owner. She discovers that she was Marguerite Wallace Pearson di San Pignelli, who married an Italian count and lived in a chateau in Naples until he died, when she returned permanently to the States. She is no longer living, and Jane is sad to think that these most precious possessions are to be sold off. Why did Marguerite never claim them? Had she no one to leave them to?
Jane arranges for the jewellery to be valued by Christie's auctioneer Philip Lawton, in preparation for a sale. Thrown together, Jane and Philip's curiosity about Marguerite's story grows. But neither of them could imagine where the contents of the box could lead them . . . or how it will change their lives forever.