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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (04/2014) Headlines (02/2014) Headlines (06/2014)   Vol. 48 April 2014 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the April 2014 edition of W&ET Magazine


The diamond measures 1.06 inches by 0.81 inches and is set on a ring.

The Pink Star was sold to Isaac Wolf, a well known New York diamond cutter who has renamed it the Pink Dream. The winning bid surpasses the $46.2 million paid for the Graff Pink diamond three years ago, which was half the size of the Pink Star.

The $83 million includes Sotheby’s commission.

The winning bid was for 68 million Swiss francs ($74 million) and reports say there was a long silence between that offer and the previous telephone bid of 67 million Swiss francs.

“Ladies and gentlemen, 68 million is the world record bid for a diamond ever bid and it’s right here,” Sotheby’s David Bennett said as he brought down the hammer.

Sotheby’s played the theme tune from the “Pink Panther” movie after the winning bid was confirmed.

According to the auctioneer, the Pink Star was mined by De Beers in April in 1999, but it did not say which country.

“It’s really extraordinarily rare,” said Mr. Bennett. “Very, very few of these stones have ever appeared at auction.”

It took two years to cut and polish the diamond, which was 132.5 carat in its rough state.

In its finished condition the Pink Star is 59.60 carat, more than double the size of the next biggest diamond in its class.

A carat is a weight measurement used for gemstones and is 0.2g (0.00705 ounces).

Sotheby’s has sold almost $200 million worth of jewellery in its current auction, a record for a single auction according to the company.

From the BBC News, submitted by Jerry R. Hallett, Napa, CA.


A $1,000 U.S. Treasury note from 1890 has sold for $3.29 million at a Florida rare currency auction.

Dallas-based Heritage Auctions says the note, known as the “Grand Watermelon note” because of its large-zero design’s resemblance to the fruit, became the most valuable piece of currency in existence when it was sold last week at the Florida United Numismatics convention auction in Orlando.

A private collection purchased the note and wished to remain anonymous.

The note’s pre-auction estimate was $2 million.

From The Daytona Beach News-Journal, submitted by Z. Grossmann, Palm Coast, FL.


To veteran John Mikula of Venice, the West Point ring was precious— wherever it was.

“West Point Class Ring. Lost near Golden Beach. Reward. Call...”

This classified ad ran in the Herald-Tribune’s LOST category, its 10 words hardly conveying the mix of hope and desperation behind them.

John Mikula’s ring meant a lot to him. To explain why, he tells two stories.

First of all, he says, there’s a ceremony at West Point when graduates receive their rings. It’s a big deal. More recently, the families of graduates who have died return the rings to West Point. These are melted and recast for new recipients, an extra bond with those who have gone before them.

In the irreverence common to the military, West Point officers are often called “ring knockers,” a reference to the higher-ups who sit at desks and try to call attention to themselves and their positions of authority by drumming their rings.

Ring gets damaged? “He couldn’t communicate with Washington any more because the crystal was gone.” Get a bad assignment? “His ring wasn’t working.”

You get the picture.

In 1967, shortly after Mikula bought his ring and while he trained as a ranger at Fort Benning, GA, someone broke into his locker and stole it. He searched every pawn shop in Columbus, GA, with no luck. Soon, he took his first assignment at Fort Hood, Texas, where a former West Point classmate called him.

The classmate had been on an airborne operation when he noticed the private next to him wearing a West Point ring. Knowing an enlisted man would not have graduated from West Point, he asked to see the ring. He spied Mikula’s name, tracked him down and returned the ring to him.

Six months later, Mikula was in Vietnam. He commanded a company in the Army’s 4th Infantry Division. They were advancing up a hill in the central highlands when North Vietnamese regulars ambushed them.

A firefight ensued. When it ended, Mikula looked down. His hand was bleeding. Then he glanced at his ring. Its blue spinel gemstone had been shot out. He looked over to his first sergeant, who was digging a hole with his helmet.

“Hey Top,” he said. “Look at my ring.”

The sergeant paused ever so slightly from his digging. “You West Pointers; you’re worrying about your ring,” he said. “Dig a hole!”

Mikula never did replace that stone.

The ring developed a legend of its own at West Point, where Mikula returned to finish out his military career, teaching Russian from 1984-88. Cadets used to come to his home after hours to see the ring that had lost its stone during mortal combat.

If the ring has stories, so does Mikula.

Did he mention he played on legendary coach Bobby Knight’s first team at Army? Mikula was the guard who didn’t shoot that well. You might have heard of another guard on that team: Mike Krzyzewski.

Mikula was in Berlin when the Wall fell. He helped knock it down. He still has a piece at home.

He was in Czechoslovakia when the Russians pulled out. He lined the road with the Czechs as the tanks and jeeps and trucks rolled past, heading back to the Soviet Union. The people along the road didn’t throw rocks. They didn’t jeer. They formed a silent gantlet to usher the occupiers from their land. Afterward, celebrations broke out in every town, Mikula says. People appeared with American flags they’d kept in their attics.

Mikula spent his post-Army career with a small consulting company that advised businesses expanding to Eastern Europe.

He met his wife, Vera, in Australia while on leave from Vietnam. Within two days, they knew they wanted to marry, which they did shortly afterward in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, before Mikula’s second tour.

The couple rent a condo in the Golden Beach neighborhood of Venice, where they plan to move once they sell their house in Annapolis, MD.

That brings us to last Thanksgiving. Mikula was on the beach and in the water with his grandson for much of the day. Then he noticed that his ring was missing. After realizing it wasn’t in the tissue box where he often left it, the family scoured the house.

No ring.

For two days, Mikula walked the beach, retracing his steps.

Still no ring.

Storms came and went. The topography of the beach changed. A couple of months later, on a whim, Mikula placed the classified ad.

That’s how he met Jay and Karen Ganz of North Port. Jay, a retired pharmacist, and Karen, an ex-nurse, search for treasures along beaches, metal detectors and baskets in hand.

They’re good at it. So good, in fact, that lifeguards give their phone number to people who have lost valuables.

The couple have returned 82 gold and platinum pieces of jewelry, and 17 diamond rings. In many cases, they’ve had to do some detective work to reunite items with their owners.

So, last spring, Karen Ganz entered 65° water that was too rough for Jay, who has two artificial hips. Waves tore her first scoop from her hands and emptied half its contents into the water. On her second scoop, just before she was ready to call it quits because of the conditions, she found the ring.

“It was like something drew me to that spot,” she says. “We had already told ourselves that if we never retrieved another piece of jewelry, we wanted to get that ring. It meant so much to him. It brings tears to your eyes.”

Mikula calls the Ganzes a wonderful couple. As for the ring experience, “It’s just life,” he says. “How things happen, there are so many variables.”

Recently, he ran another ad, this time under the category FOUND.

“West Point Ring found by Jay and Karen Ganz in Gulf and returned to owner. Thanks to all who offered help.”

From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, submitted (with Best Finds 2013 entry) by Karen Ganz, North Port, FL. (See Best Finds’ RingMasters, page 26.)

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