Talk about genuine or not. A few weeks ago an acquaintance of mine
asked if he could bring his mother-in law- into my shop, because she
had inherited an extremely valuable ruby from her mother. It was over
60 years old and two independent jewelers had valued it at $250,000,
many years ago. The grandmother was from Curacao, (A half- baked
island that is part of the Netherlands Antilles). In fact, he said,
when his grandmother-in law was told how valuable the ruby was, she
immediately took the ring off her finger and put it into her bra as
she went home, so that the local gangsters would not see it.
She hid it in her house for the next few decades and eventually when
she died my acquaintance’s mother-in law inherited it.
So, after many phone calls to me, the mother-in- law catches a plane
to St.Maarten from Curacao to come and have the ruby valued at my
To explain me, I have been cutting stones since 1976-ish and I have
been making jewellery since 1980-ish, so I have seen my fair share of
“old rubies”. Bluntly put, I was a little less than excited.
Especially when they are valued in six or seven figures.
Anyway, she pitches at my shop straight from the airport,
accompanied by the son- in- law, daughter and various members of her
extended family. After the prescribed formal cheek kissing and
handshakes we sit down and the ruby is produced.
I take one look at it and I see a flawless neon pink step cut stone
of + 20 carats set in a twirly type unstamped gold looking ring.
What do you say? Do you say “This is not a ruby. It is either a
synthetic (or man made) corundum or synthetic (or man made) spinel,
but there is no point in me testing it because it is not a real ruby”
Or do you become a politician and say it with weasel words that
amount to the same thing? I chose something in the middle, the truth
mixed with weasel, called treasel words.
Well, well-- total disbelief.
I took out some uncut synthetic material of a similar color that I
had in stock and showed her the similarities between the two,
explained how it was made, the difference between real and not real,
blah, blah, blah.
“What about the other two jewelers?” she asked. “They were wrong” I
said. Shame on me, but the truth is the truth. You can lay the truth
in a box of cotton or on the edge of a blade, but it still remains
the truth. Treasel words simply slow the cutting.
There was an arctic atmosphere of injury as the formal cheek kissing
and handshakes were completed. They left.
I had suggested they go for a second opinion to another jeweler who
has some knowledge of gemstones and that is exactly what they did.
About two hours later, my acquaintance phones me up with glee in his
voice and says that the second jeweler confirmed that it was a
corundum and thereby by default, because it was pink, a ruby. Neon
pink, I might add. I will ignore the +20carats and the suspect ring.
It was, in fact, genuine corundum, he said.
For me, when I saw the stone, there was no point in doing the gem
testing waltz, taking out the refractometer and testing equipment and
then printing out a valuation certificate to verify what was patently
obvious to me. I was dumb and I danced myself out of $100 playing
Dang! Next time maybe I should do the dance between genuine and real
and keep myself in some beer money.
I did, however, ask him if I could have one percent of the sale
price when it was sold in lieu of the fees I did not charge him. I
wait with eager anticipation.
Cheers, Hans Meevis