Calgary rare gem dealer Regan Reaney claims that a massive green gem he owns is a 57,500-carat rough-cut opaque emerald $1.15 million.
It’s making its way to Kelowna where it will be under tight security for the auction on January 28.
He purchased the stone from a dealer in India last week and had it appraised by Premier Gems in Calgary.
The emerald was mined in Brazil and cut in India.
“There are other gemologists who have looked at this. It is enhanced and it’s dyed, we know that, but it is an emerald, 100 per cent.”
Emeralds are a rare form of the mineral beryl. White beryl is common and largely worthless.
“This is 100 per cent real,” said Regan Reaney, who hopes to net a seven-figure payday when he puts it up for auction in Kelowna, B.C., through Western Star Auctions.
Gemologist Jeff Nechka, who started Premier Gems in 2005 after training at the industry leading Gemological Institute of America, said the value of the emerald, dubbed Teodora — Brazilian and rough translation is “God’s Gift.”
The opaque gem is only commercial quality, but weighs 25.35 pounds.
Nechka admits the crystal has been dyed, a fact noted in the appraisal, but believes it is green beryl that has been enhanced.
“If it was white that was dyed green, it would be a lot more even in color and would be lighter in tone,” said Nechka.
Shane McClure, the director of west coast identification services at the GIA in Carlsbad, Calif., said white beryl could be dyed any color or intensity given you want.
“If the gemologist says it’s been dyed, there’s no way to know how much dye has been used,” said McClure.
“It’s not a difficult thing to take a large chunk of opaque beryl and dye it green and call it an emerald,” he said. “Beryl like that is easily available in huge pieces. Beryl pieces 20 feet (six metres) long have been found.”
McClure has not inspected the emerald in question and said he would advise any potential buyer to have an independent appraisal done before purchasing it.
Chris Dirken, a Vancouver man who now lives in Reno, Nev., said he was negotiating to buy the very same gem for a “few hundred dollars” through eBay just last week when the Indian dealer suddenly called and said he had a buyer willing to pay more.
Reaney said he did not buy his emerald on eBay, but was aware it had been offered through the online auction site and confirmed it was the same dealer or how much he paid for it.
Dirken said he bought a 23,000-carat emerald from the same dealer that turned out to be a dyed white chunk of beryl.
He said he had appraisals from licensed gemologists of $650,000 and $450,000 for that gem before GIA told him it was dyed beryl.
A Vancouver gemologist also came to the same conclusion.
Dirken doesn’t know Reaney and hasn’t handled Teodora, but said he wouldn’t consider buying it for more than $1,000, unless GIA determined it was an authentic emerald.
“A stone like that, if it’s authentic, should be going to Christie’s or Sotheby’s, not a no-name auctioneer in B.C. with an appraisal from a gemologist who is relatively inexperienced,” said Dirken, who said he’s been buying gems for 20 years and works in the mining industry.
Reaney dismissed the criticism as jealousy from a rival buyer and claims to have a Texan will to bid at least $1 million for the emerald.
He said he also plans to use his auction to pitch a Canadian reality show about rare gems and other hard-to-get items.
“It’s a very beautiful deep green. To me it’s just a thing of beauty. It’s spectacular. It’s just nothing short of spectacular,” said Western Star Auctions owner Mike Odenbach.
Armed security will transport the gem from Calgary to Kelowna, and Odenbach is making arrangements with local companies to ensure the emerald is secure before, during, and after the auction.
On Monday, the gem was appraised at $1.15 million, but Odenbach believes it could fetch much more.
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