The largest ever ruby to be sold at auction, named Estrela de Fura – Fura Star in Portuguese will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York this summer.
The auction house is describing the gem, which was found in July 2022 in Mozambique as “an exceptional treasure.”
The 55.22-carat gem is unusual not only for its size and purity but also for its location. Until the discovery of Estrela de Fura, it was thought that only Burma held rubies of such color and clarity.
Some analysts said the “once in a century” find was shaking up the gemstone industry.
Sotheby’s has placed an estimate of more than $30 million that, if achieved, could make it the most valuable ruby ever sold at auction.
Sotheby’s said that even in its rough, 101-carat untouched state, the ruby “was considered by experts as an exceptional treasure of nature.”
It is celebrated “for its fluorescence, outstanding clarity and vivid red hue, known as ‘pigeon’s blood’ — a color traditionally associated only with Burmese rubies.”
Size and quality of the ruby is “almost unimaginable”
Quig Bruning, head of Sotheby’s Jewelry America, said the find had changed perceptions of African gems, putting them on par with Burmese.
“It is undoubtedly positioned to become the standard bearer for African rubies – and gemstones in general, bringing global awareness to their ability to be on par with, and even outshine, those from Burma, which have traditionally been the most desirable and recognizable source for rubies,” he said.
The Gubelin Gem Lab, one of two laboratories that graded the gem, said the size and the quality of the ruby was “almost unimaginable.”
“To see a natural ruby of this size, with such a combination of quality characteristics spared from treatment was considered almost unimaginable,” the New York-based firm said.
“The natural ruby of 55.22-carat is setting a new record not only for Mozambican rubies, but also for rubies in general.”
The other gem lab, Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF), also based in New York, wrote that the gem displays “vivid red hues due to multiple internal reflections.”
They said that a natural ruby from Mozambique of this size and quality can be considered very rare and thus an exceptional treasure of nature.
The current world record for a ruby sold at auction is held by the Sunrise Ruby, a 25.59 carat Burmese stone, which was auctioned at Sotheby’s Geneva in May 2015 for $30.3 million.
This price also established a new record for any ruby per carat ($1,185,451 per carat) at the time.
The ruby was found in an area of Mozambique, Cabo Delgado province, which has seen attacks from ISIS-inspired Islamist militants.
The town of Montepuez was attacked in October, with hundreds of people fleeing their homes, according to Human Rights Watch.
Two mines operating in the area – not run by Fura – were forced to cease operations amid the attacks.