Zuckerberg Wife Priscilla Chan's Ruby Ring May Be Valuable After All

Priscilla Chan showed off her new ruby ring at lunch with a friend. Photo by Deano / Splash NewsPriscilla Chan showed off her new ruby ring at lunch with a friend. Photo by Deano / Splash NewsBillionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, 28, is getting a lot of flack for being cheap with his new bride. He married Priscilla Chan, 27, in a surprise ceremony in their backyard last Saturday and Chan wore an off-the-rack dress by Claire Pettibon. No fancy venue or Vera Wang gown for this bride! Experts consulted by the UK paper The Daily Mail are claiming Zuckerberg was too frugal and thoughtless because of the "very simple" ruby ring he gave Chan (the AP reported that he designed it himself). However, an expert consulted by Yahoo! Shine points out that rubies are extremely significant and popular in Asian culture, and can potentially be more expensive than diamonds.

Celebrity rings and their knock-offs

Thanks to Facebook going public, Zuckerberg is now worth over $20 billion (at least, he was before stock price started to fall), and though he's partial to wearing casual hoodies, he may still have bought his long-term girlfriend a nice ring. Chan was spotted showing off her new bling at lunch with a friend in Palo Alto, California on Wednesday, and while the jewelry designer and price of the ring remain undisclosed, a ruby expert told Yahoo! Shine exclusively that the ring could have cost over $100,000.

Facebook's Zuckerberg caps IPO week with wedding

"It's a small stone, but rubies can be extremely expensive," says Michael Arnstein, CEO of the Natural Sapphire Company. He estimates the size of Chan's ruby to be 2.75 to 3 carats. Rubies of that size cost from $20,000 for a low quality stone, to up to $100,000 for a higher quality one. "The value depends on the quality of the ruby, and it's hard to tell for sure from the photo," Arnstein says. "A Burmese ruby, which this definitely looks like, can cost upwards of $100,000." The two diamonds flanking the ruby look to be around 1 carat combined, and could tack an extra $5,000 on to the price tag. 

As for Zuckerberg's choice of a ruby, Arnstein is not surprised. "Red has more meaning and emotion in Asia," he says, and Zuckerberg's Chinese-American bride may have requested a ruby ring because it "identifies where she comes from culturally." Rubies are a symbol of wisdom--what better for the new medical school graduate? And, the jewelry expert points out that Zuckerberg and Chan are conservative, and the engagement ring isn't too flashy but rather something she'd feel comfortable wearing every day. Arnstein also says the setting appears to be yellow gold, which is also more traditional in Asian culture. "Zuckerberg loves her and would have bought her anything she wanted, but this is probably what her grandmother had."

Arnstein says untreated rubies can be the most expensive stones of all. On May 15, a 32-carat ruby and diamond ring sold for a record $6.6 million at Christie's.

Rubies, however, come with many tricky issues. Zaven "Zee" Ghanimian G.G., designer for Simon G Jewelry, tells Yahoo! Shine that there are many fakes on the market. "Synthetic rubies have been produced from a very long time and can be difficult to spot. It usually takes a trained professional, gemologist or a gem lab." Ghanimian says currently the good rubies in this country come from Africa, "but the quality is not like a Burmese Ruby."

An estimated 90 percent of the world's rubies originate in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and are known in the trade as "blood rubies." They've been embargoed in the U.S. since 2008. Arnstein points out that if Chan's ring is a Burmese ruby, the stone would have to have been in the country before the embargo. "I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that this is a Burmese ruby and it's from a small jeweler and [the jeweler] broke the law," says Arnstein. "[Zuckerberg] potentially didn't know, but this is probably a smuggled stone. He'd need proper documentation which I'm pretty darn sure he's not going to have." Arnstein says Zuckerberg would have to obtain the ruby though an auction house, vintage store, or jeweler carrying gems from before the embargo.

We've reached out to Zuckerberg for more info on the ruby ring, but have received no comment at press time.

Priscilla Chan’s wedding dress is now flying off the shelves, and we’re betting rubies will become more popular now too. Check out the video below for more on Chan’s bridal gown.

Related links:
Meet Mark Zuckerberg's Bride Priscilla Chan. She Had a Big Week Too.
10 Biggest Celeb Engagement Rings
Sheryl Sandberg: Facebook's Billion-Dollar Woman