The largest ruby ever to be auctioned has sold in New York for a record sum of $34.8m (£28m).
Sotheby’s, which auctioned the 55.22-carat gem, described it as a “once in a lifetime” gem.
The original rough stone weighed 101 carats when it was discovered last year at a mine in Mozambique, where there are large ruby deposits in the north of the country.
Polished rubies over five carats are extremely rare.
The rare gem has been called “Estrela de Fura”, which means “Star of Fura” in Portuguese, after the name of the mine in which it was found.
Quig Bruning, head of Sotheby’s Jewelery in New York, said when he first saw the stone he was thrilled, reports the Press Association.
“With its unprecedented size, piercing color and rare degree of optical transparency and clarity, it truly deserved today’s record price, as it now joins the ranks of the most legendary gemstones in the world.”
Mozambique’s Fura ruby mine is in the Montepeuz district of Cabo Delgado province, where a militant Islamist insurgency has been raging for some years.
Cabo Delgado is one of the poorest regions in Mozambique, yet it is rich in untapped mineral resources.
Analysts suggest the insurgency, which began in 2017, was fueled by frustration over a lack of local jobs.
Troops belonging to the regional bloc Sadc deployed to the region in 2021 to help the Mozambican army fight the jihadists, known for their brutal attacks. Their power had grown to the point that they controlled key towns in the province.
Regional troops have helped regain control of towns and violence has subsided, but militants are known to still operate at a low level.
Sotheby’s says part of the proceeds from the sale of the Estrela de Fura are allocated by Fura to establish an academy to provide technical training in mining, engineering, carpentry and agriculture.