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$17 Million 'Gem of Tanzania' Actually Worth $160

An enormous precious stone listed on a now bankrupt company's books for the value of 11 million pounds ($17.4 million) is probably not worth more than 100 pounds, British media reported Friday.

The "Gem of Tanzania," once believed to be a huge uncut ruby that one of its owners declared as cursed, was listed on the balance sheet of now bankrupt UK company Wrekin Construction as its most valuable asset and had been keeping the firm alive for years.

Businessman David Unwin, the owner of Wrekin Construction, bought the gem from a Cheshire property developer called Tony Haworth as part of a land deal in 2007, the Independent newspaper reported.

Valuation documents at the time stated that it was worth 300,000 pounds, but when Unwin's company Wrekin Construction went bankrupt in March, its accounts listed the gem as being worth 11 million pounds, the paper said.

Gem of Tanzania
Source: Ebay
Gem of Tanzania

But now the rock is believed to be just a large lump of anyolite, a low-grade form of ruby.

"A two kilo lump of anyolite is probably worth about 100 pounds. A valuation of 11 million pounds would be utterly bonkers," Marcus McCallum, a jewel dealer from Hatton Garden in London, told the Financial Times.

Wrekin's administrators, Ernst & Young, included the gem in a lot of the company's former office equipment being sold over the Internet but are also seeking a buyer by placing advertisements in specialized magazines.

The gem was discovered in 2002 by a mining company carrying out excavations in northern Tanzania and bought by a South African businessman, Trevor Michael Hart-Jones, for 13,000 pounds. It next appeared in the possession of Haworth, who sold it to Unwin.