Diamond, Jewels Triggering International Incidents

June 27th, 2013 by Noam Flint

Most of the time, the average Joe or Jane only hears about diamonds when it’s specifically relevant to them: when they’re buying a diamond for a loved one or receiving a stone as a present. But this week the precious gems made waves even outside of the cliquish world of diamantaires.

New England Patriots Super Bowl RingNew England Patriots Super Bowl Ring

One story would have ended up on the gossip pages if it didn’t involve one of the most powerful men in the world, Vladimir Putin. The three-time Russian president and former KGB officer was alleged to have – get this – stolen a diamond ring. And not just any diamond ring, but a Super Bowl victory ring that belonged to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. As Kraft tells the story, he met Putin on an American trade mission to St. Petersburg back in 2005 and offered to let Putin try the remarkable ring on for size.

Once he did so, Russian security agents enveloped him and blocked direct access to his person while he slipped out of the room. So why is this story only emerging now, eight years later? Kraft says that at the time, the Bush White House asked him to make a sacrifice for the sake of Russo-American relations and drop the topic. So why bring it up now? Could it be that Obama administration has a vested interest in shaming the Russian leader, for political reasons?

Once word spread of Kraft’s accusations, Putin was put in the awkward position of defending his own honor. He told a media scrum that he has no recollection of any Super Bowl ring, or even the American man who is supposed to have given it to him. But he magnanimously offered to have a ring of precious metals and gems made for Kraft to compensate him for his loss. And if you really want to buy such a ring, these sometimes find their way to eBay like the one in the picture above being offered for $63,000 (you can buy it here).

But was the Putin story a smokescreen of sorts? While a minor property dispute between two rich white men kept news reporters busy, most of them slept on one of the most stories of the year – diamond-related or otherwise. Last week the United Nations voted to deploy a fighting contingent to the Congo in what is the very first offensive force assembled in the history of the organization. With rebel armies attempting to gain control of the country’s impressive diamond deposits, 3,000 blue helmets will attempt to defend them and maintain some semblance of order in the war-torn nation.