A Valuable Tucson Gem and Mineral Show Purchase?

In February of 1986 Texas gem broker, Roy Whetstine, bought a gem stone that was alleged to be far more valuable than its purchase price.

Originally, it was reported that the stone Whetstine bought for $10 at the Tucson Gem Show (now Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, opens a new window) was a 1,905 carat sapphire worth $2.28 million. Whetstine and the stone were featured in People magazine, the New York Times and on the Joan Rivers Talk show. 

The true value of the sapphire remains controversial however, and follow-up stories reported highly varying values for the stone. After consulting with experts, the Los Angeles Times eventually reported that the stone was probably only worth a few thousand dollars, but the Salt Lake Tribune reported that the Gemological Instituted of America (GIA) lab identified the stone as "a natural star sapphire" with an approximate weight of 1,156 carats. A GIA representative stated, however, that "you can't tell the quality of a stone by lab report." An independent appraiser from New York called the stone "an oddity."


"Stone, bought for $10 at Tucson Gem Show, now appraised at over $2 million." Arizona Daily Star. November 13, 1986. Page B1.

"Texas gembroker bought $2.28 million rock (905 carat sapphire) for $10." Arizona Daily Star. November 14, 1986. Page B12.

Snopes.com article "$2 Million Sapphire Purchased for $10., opens a new window"

Monson, G. Romancing the Stone: Businessman Hopes $10 Gem will Fetch MillionsSalt Lake Tribune, The (UT), April 19, 1994 p. B1.

Associated Press. Is Fat Appraisal Nothing More than Romancing the Stone?. Miami Herald, The (FL), Feburary 14, 1987. p. 4D.

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