September 22, 2023

Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

A 55.22-carat ruby is poised to become the largest — and should it sell for over $30.3 million, the most valuable — gem of its kind ever to appear at auction.

The stone is set to go under the hammer in New York in June, less than a year after Canadian firm Fura Gems discovered it at one of its mines in Mozambique.

Announcing the sale Wednesday, Sotheby’s described the jewel as “exceedingly rare” and “the most valuable and important” ruby ever to come to market. Named Estrela de Fura (or Star of Fura in Mozambique’s official language, Portuguese), the stone is expected to fetch “in excess of” $30 million, the auction house said.

Although record gemstone sales are dominated by diamonds — colored ones, in particular — rubies are also considered among the world’s rarest and most valuable gemstones. The current auction record for a ruby was set by the Sunrise Ruby, a 25.59-carat stone found in Myanmar that fetched $30.3 million in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2015.

The gem was cut from a record-breaking 101-carat rough stone unearthed in Mozambique.

The gem was cut from a record-breaking 101-carat rough stone unearthed in Mozambique. Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Estrela de Fura was cut from a rough stone that made headlines when it was unearthed by miners last July. Originally weighing 101 carats, almost twice as much as in its current form, it was the largest gem-quality ruby ever discovered.

The huge stone was cut into a smaller symmetrical shape and polished, processes that remove impurities and enhance the color and brilliance of a gemstone before it is put onto the market. According to Sotheby’s, a report from the Swiss Gemmological Institute said that this had “resulted in vivid red hues due to multiple internal reflections.”

In a statement, Fura Gems’ founder and CEO, Dev Shetty, said stones of such size and quality are “almost unheard of.”

“From the in-depth analysis and study of the stone — through the process of cutting and polishing — we have worked with the utmost care and respect for the ruby, recognizing its importance and stature,” he added.

The stone will go on sale at Sotheby's New York in June.

The stone will go on sale at Sotheby’s New York in June. Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Although rubies were first discovered in Mozambique several decades ago, a significant industry only emerged after 2009, when a huge deposit of stones were found near the northern city of Montepuez. Mozambique is now one of the world’s most productive ruby-mining countries.

Estrela de Fura was among the stones unearthed from the region. Sotheby’s described it as possessing “outstanding clarity” and a dark red color known as “pigeon’s blood” — a hue more traditionally associated with highly sought-after Burmese rubies.

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The auction house’s head of jewelry for the Americas, Quig Bruning, said in a statement that the ruby could help African stones compete with, “and even outshine” those from Myanmar (the country formerly known as Burma).

The ruby will feature in Sotheby’s “Magnificent Jewels” sale, which will be headlined by a 10.57 carat pink diamond, The Eternal Pink, that is expected to fetch over $35 million. Unveiled last week, the “ultra-rare” gem was described by the auction house as possessing “unparalleled color and brightness.”

Both precious stones will be exhibited in various cities, including Dubai, Singapore and Geneva, before heading to New York for June’s auction.


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