In 1990, a modest gentleman, a self-described “rock hound” from the hills of western North Carolina, made the discovery of a lifetime. Jarvis “Wayne" Messer, using a tracking technique he developed from years as a fishing guide in those rugged hills, uncovered four stones he knew were out of the ordinary… way out of the ordinary! An amateur stone cutter from a neighboring town cut and polished them into cabochon shapes. What resulted were four extraordinary Star Rubies, which Guernsey’s is offering in a sealed bid auction, with a deadline of Thrusday, June 21st, at 5pm.
The largest of the stones - now referred to as the Appalachian Star - weighed in at a staggering 139 ct, with the total weight of the four a mind-boggling 342 ct. Each featured a virtually perfect six-rayed star so bright that they almost seemed electrically lit!
As is often the case in small, remote communities, word of Wayne’s discovery spread. Indeed, it became the talk of the town. And then someone had a bright idea: by chipping in funds, Wayne could get the monies needed to send the rubies to New York, to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), where they could be properly tested. Those doing the chipping in would now become the “investors,” turning the process very much into a community project.
Lo and behold, the GIA confirmed the discovery; star rubies to be sure. So unique was the find that where the place of origin on the reports appears, the word “unknown” follows. Purely and simply, the GIA seemed not to have ever encountered Star Rubies from North Carolina before, as, when they are found at all, they have been discovered in Southeast Asia.
As if the GIA reports were not enough, the stones - now referred to as the “Mountain Star Ruby Collection” - were shipped to London where the BGI (British Gemological Institute) confirmed the GIA’s findings. Once in London, the Natural History Museum, once a major arm of the British Museum, asked to exhibit the 139 ct. Appalachian Star. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people lined up to view the extraordinary stone over a two week period. The institution’s leading gemologist, Dr. Cally Oldershaw, described the stone as “quite breathtaking.” London’s Daily Mail was more succinct referring to the stone simply as “the world’s finest ruby."
Bathing in the glory of his discovery, Wayne’s joy was short lived as he was soon diagnosed with cancer. A decade-long battle then ensued before the woodsman succumbed to the disease. The four Star Rubies - the Appalachian Star, the Smokey Mountain Two Star (which, as the name implies, has beautiful stars on both its sides), the Promise Star and the Misty Star - were put away by Wayne’s widow. And there they sat, until today.
On June 21st, Guernsey’s - the New York City-based auction house known for the John F. Kennedy Auction, the Princess Diana Auction and hundreds of other compelling events - will be opening sealed bids on behalf of Wayne’s widow.
To place a bid, please call Guernsey’s at 212-794-2280. Online bidding is available on liveauctioneers.com. Private viewing available by appointment.
For media inquiries or to request an interview, please contact Diana Ziskin at 212.805.3057 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Appalachian Star Ruby is an oval cabochon with a semi-translucent deep purple-red color. It measures approximately 28.6 x 21.7 x 19.1mm. Its star is sharp, perfectly centered and well-defined, with very straight, unbroken rays.
A pear-shaped cabochon with a strong semi-translucent purplish red color, and slight color zoning in its crystal structure, and a star with perfect asterism. It measures 21.2 mm long x 17.6 mm wide x 13.4 mm deep.
A round cabochon with a medium deep purplish red semi-translucent color, with visible crystal structure. It has a perfect star, sharp, centered and well-defined. It measures 21.8mm in diameter and 12.8mm deep.
This round cabochon ruby exhibits two perfect stars, on its top and bottom. The stars are sharp, centered and well-defined, and the stone has a strong, medium-dark purple-red semi-translucent color, with visible crystal structure. It measures 21.5mm in diameter and 18.8mm in depth.
For nearly three decades, the four stunning Star Rubies discovered by Jarvis Wayne Messer in 1990 in the Appalachian hills of western North Carolina have been the subject of analysis by museum curators, gemologists, appraisers, scientists and other leading experts.
Those who are interested in participating can view the catalogue online, and leave advance absentee bids, as well as bid live as the sale is taking place at liveauctioneers.com.
Guernsey's welcomes inquiries from the media regarding both past and upcoming events. A PDF copy of the press release and links to media coverage of The Mountar Star Ruby Collection are available below: