What's It Worth? It Sounded Too Good To Be True

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When an Indiana jeweler called us with a Tiffany & Co. ruby for sale for $11,000, we quickly said, “Ship it!”

It sounded too good to be true and, in a way, it was.

The jeweler had had the stone sent to GIA, and while “smallish” at 1.78 carat, it was deemed to be from Burma and to have “no heat.”

As we have discussed before, most rubies sold today are from Thailand and other countries, and 95 percent are heated to make them look much better than they naturally occur.

Burma (Myanmar) doesn’t mine large or “gemmy” stones anymore, and, even if they did, we have strict trade barriers in place.

Therefore, the demand is huge and the supply is limited. Most Burma rubies found today were mined 50-200 years ago and are in the jewelry boxes of the American public.

When we excitedly opened the box, we were somewhat deflated when we saw it. The entire package was fantastic — original unmolested Tiffany platinum mounting in an original Tiffany box.

But the condition of the ruby was just demoralizing. It had one rather large chip on one side and several smaller chips on the other side. Further, it was abraded on the “table” (very top).

This presented a problem. To completely recut this stone would leave behind a small 1.35-carat stone worth much less and, more importantly, it wouldn’t fit into the original mounting.

The challenge is going to be to remove the chips, polish the top and NOT lose the ability for it to fit back into that mounting.

We elected to go ahead with the purchase, and, while we utilize several cutters around the U.S., we elected to send this to a cutter in Asia who specializes in older cuts and who would keep it at the maximum width and depth to put back into the mounting.

The picture shows the piece in “before” condition, abrasions and all, and keep in mind that newsprint cannot fully reproduce the vibrant color of a Burma ruby.

Wish us luck!

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