The unique ruby in Dubai could be worth $1000

Tuesday April 26 2022
Ruby 3

The Burj Alhamal ruby reportedly from Tanzania on display in Dubai. Owners originally claimed it was worth a whooping $120 million.

By Paul Owere

The display of the 2.8kg at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre has generated sensational media hype across the world raising several questions than answers so far.

However, as it has emerged owners of the Ruby might find it difficult to auction the gemstone for the reported eye-popping $120 million which they have quoted after experts poked holes in its valuation.

And as if that is not enough, questions too have emerged over the real origins of the unique ruby with details now revealing that it could actually be from Longido and not Winza as earlier on claimed.

In fact, evidence shows that in Longido the specimen is sold in an open market and the green zoisite,  known as “Anyolite” is named after the Maasai word anyoli, meaning “green.” 

According to American gemologist and gemstone dealer Jeffery Bergman who has done extensive work both in Tanzania and elsewhere rubies from Winza are not found in green zoisite.

Writing in one of his articles which has been published in the International Gem Society (IGS) Mr Bergman says the claim that the 2.8kg Burj Alhamal ruby is the largest is not true.

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“At 2.8kg it is not even close to one of the largest in the world. I have documentation on 44kg and 45kg rubies,” he says.

Ruby Longido

Longido Ruby in Zoisite being sold at an open market, something that further casts doubt that owners could have grossly misrepresented both the origin and value of the Burj Alhamal ruby which is on display in Dubai. PHOTO | COURTESY

A closer examination of the stone casts doubt on its estimated valuation with details revealing that the stone may not be what it seems.

“For example, a 5.00 carat stone weighs about 1.00 gram. Therefore, a 8,400 carat stone would weigh approximately 1.68kg, not 2.8 kilograms,” writes Mr Bergman

According to him the current valuations for ruby-in-zoisite specimens do not support the estimated $120 million valuation for the Burj Alhamal.

This has left many questions on what the real value of the Burj Alhamal could really be worth.

 Steve Ulatowski of New Era Gems is an expert in ruby-in-zoisite specimens who has sold substantial amount of rubies at the going rate of around US$350 per kilogram, including one that weighed 3kg.  “At that rate it means the stone would sell for a maximum of $1200 if the sellers are lucky.”

Other eye popping valuations

This is not the first time there has been an extraordinary valuation of a ruby stone from Tanzania something that further undermines the valuation of the Burj Alhamal.

In 2009, a 2 kg ruby-in-zoisite specimen named the “Gem of Tanzania was initially valued at £11m ($17.4m) and owned by UK Wrekin Construction was probably worth £100 .

The “Gem of Tanzania,” once believed to be a huge uncut ruby that one of its owners declared as cursed, was listed on the balance sheet of now bankrupt UK company Wrekin Construction as its most valuable asset and had been keeping the firm alive for years.

The company used the valuation of the stone to help prop up its balance sheet. Forced into bankruptcy, the court-appointed administrators Ernst & Young declared the 2kg stone’s £11m valuation and its accompanying documents as forgery.

 With 60 offers, it was eventually auctioned for a mere £8,000 ($10,400), leaving creditors with massive losses exceeding £45m ($58.7m).

Another example that pokes holes in what now seems to be an inflated valuation for the Burj Alhamal is 228,000 carat (45.6kg) ruby-in-zoisite specimen offered by Bonhams in Los Angeles.

 On May 20, 2014 the ruby carried an estimated value of US$100,000-$150,000 yet it was 16 times larger than the “Burj Alhamal.”

It failed to sell at the Bonhams auction after bidding failed to reach the minimum estimated value of $100,000 (or $2,200 per kilogram).

Instead, the Bonhams stone, which the listing states was carved from a “single specimen of Tanzanian ruby rough” by a famous Idar-Oberstein carver, had a finished weight of 0.85kg and sold at auction for $13,200 or $15,500/kg.

Pictures of Burj Alhamal published in the National shows that the stone may only be about 25 percent ruby and 75 percent zoisite.

This, according to experts means that the actual ruby content is about 0.7kg.

According to Tariq Saeed of Dubai’s Periodical Today the 2.8kg (or 1.68kg?) “Burj Alhamal” is only one of the gems in the SJ Gold & Diamonds Callisto collection, which includes 12 rough rubies that weigh a total of “an astonishing 236,000 carats”

The valuation as put by SJ Gold & Diamonds is not consistent with auction records and it remains an interesting topic especially after the company failed to produce the purchase certificate from Tanzania.