May 15th, 2014
A massive 228,000-carat ruby crystal is expected to fetch between $100,000 and $150,000 when it hits the auction block at Bonhams next Tuesday. At 100 pounds, the extraordinary specimen is the largest ruby ever offered at public auction.
Discovered at the famous Longido mine near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the ruby crystal is seven times larger than any previously found at Longido, according to the auction house.
Some gem experts have speculated that Longido might be one of the long-lost ruby mines that once belonged to the ancient Israelite King Solomon.
The ruby crystal is embedded in the mineral zoisite, which itself can be very valuable. The most prized zoisite is the blue/purple variety known as tanzanite.
The giant-sized ruby crystal is just one of the highlights from Bonhams’ Gems, Minerals, Lapidary Works of Art and Natural History auction, which will take place in Los Angeles.
Another notable lot is a collection of 27 rhodochrosites, also known as "Red Gold," which were mined from the Kalahari Manganese Field in South Africa. They are estimated to fetch between $200,000 and $250,000.
The 431-lot auction also includes mammal, dinosaur and plant fossils; un-mounted and rare faceted gemstones; lapidary carvings by German masters; jewelry, amber, petrified wood, meteorites, gold nuggets and rare, natural pearls.