What’s It Worth? When Opinions Differ

We recently bought from a Rhode Island jeweler a stunning signed Gumbiner suite of sapphire jewelry valued at well over $200,000.

Gumbiner was a famous New York City jewelry store started by the Gumbiner family who traveled worldwide looking for fine gemstones from about 1920 to 1950. We sent the center stone to GIA and they identified it as a no-heat, 11-carat sapphire of Madagascar origin.

We were hoping for a Burma designation because of the deep blue color. We were surprised by the Madagascar designation since Madagascar only started mining sapphires in the 1990s! It is always possible that the center stone was changed, but we highly doubt it because of the source and the history of the piece.

In desperation, we reached out to Gubelin, the premier gem lab in France, and they identified it as a no-heat Ceylon stone, but noted its rich color.

Keep in mind all labs simply issue “opinions.” Stones from Burma, Ceylon, Madagascar, and Kashmir all share various attributes, color, and makeup. So while color might be “Burma-like,” the clarity characteristics are all over the board. Sapphires from Madagascar are known for their fine color. Stones from Ceylon are usually much lighter, especially when not heated.

Was GIA wrong? We think so; but at the end of the day, it’s all just an opinion. Retail value $200,000. Fair market value $60,000 to $80,000. Liquidation value $25,000-$30,000 (for this piece only … there were more in the collection).

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