The 11.5-kilogram green rock was billed as the world’s largest emerald and dubbed Teodora, a name that derives from Greek and means “gift from god.”
The emerald, however, may not quite be the $1-million-plus stone its purported owner Regan Reaney promoted it as.
Mr. Reaney was arrested on Friday in Kelowna in the B.C. interior, as Royal Canadian Mounted Police took him into custody. Mr. Reaney is accused of multiple fraud offenses in Ontario, the RCMP said in a brief statement, and Hamilton Police had outstanding warrants for his arrest.
Mr. Reaney wasn’t previously known to Kelowna police, but he did not feel the instinct to keep a low profile. He had a watermelon-sized precious gem to sell, after all.
In mid-January, Mr. Reaney easily attracted a swath of media interest as he put his green rock up for auction at Kelowna’s Western Star Auctions. Mr. Reaney painted himself as a rare gems dealer from Calgary, who had acquired the stone from India through a contact made on the Internet, the stone originally mined in Brazil.
Mr. Reaney advertised the 57,500-carat rock as the largest cut emerald in the world, appraised at $1.15-million. But that number, to Mr. Reaney, was just a beginning. He told reporters that the stone’s value was in the “priceless zone.” There had beenrumblings of million-dollar offers from Texas and Dubai, even though Reaney hoped the rock would stay in Canada.
“I was stoked,” Mr. Reaney told the Kelowna Capital News in mid-January after acquiring the rock and deciding that Kelowna was the best place to put it up for auction.
“It’s amazing, phenomenal. There are not enough things you can say to describe it.”
Even though emeralds are easily faked by dyeing common white beryl mineral green, the owner of the auction house was excited for all the attention. Mike Odenbach, proprietor of Western Star Auctions, had dreams of cracking the reality-television circuit. Mr. Reaney’s rock was the biggest thing to ever happen to Western Star Auctions.
“It’s stunning, a thing of beauty,” Mr. Odenbach told the Kelowna newspaper.
The quirky news – which was mostly scoffed at by serious gems people – made the rounds, appearing as far away as the Daily Mirror, the London tabloid whose interest in yarns at times outweighs its interest in facts.
After Mr. Reaney was arrested, the stone still went up at auction on Saturday but no bids were made. “It’s not a nice situation,” Mr. Odenbach told the Kelowna Capital News on Saturday afternoon, adding that he felt he had to press on with the auction.
On Sunday, RCMP did not returns calls or e-mails. Mr. Odenbach did not return calls.
A Jan. 20 report in industry publication National Jeweler in the United States was skeptical of the “emerald.”
To be 100 per cent certain the rock is an emerald, a gemologist can undertake “destructive testing,” chipping off a piece to assess the innards of the stone. Mr. Reaney reportedly refused this.
The Gemological Institute of America would not certify a rock like Mr. Reaney’s as an emerald, because it was acknowledged to be at least partially dyed.
At best, if the institute found some natural green colour, the rock would be affixed with a grading comment that noted: “The presence of dye prevents determining whether or not the stone would have sufficient depth of color to be considered an emerald.”
Shane McClure, director of identification services in California for the gemological institute, told National Jeweler, “If such a thing came into the laboratory and we determined it was dyed, there was no way we would call it an emerald.”