A high-profile Auckland couple locked in a divorce battle are at war over the mystery of a $189,000 diamond secretly replaced with a $1000 cubic zirconia.
In January this year, the woman had her 3-carat diamond engagement ring, from her separated husband, appraised by Jewellery Valuation Centre in Parnell, to begin the process of selling it.
The couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are well-known in Auckland business and social circles.
What she discovered when the evaluation came back on January 25, 2019, left her "shell shocked".
The ring that had been appraised in 2012 as a 9.3mm diamond solitaire of "very good" cut, on a gold and platinum mount, was now a cubic zirconia "different in every way" from the original.
The stone now in her possession was 0.46 grams heavier than the original, the band itself had new abrasions, and the ring setting was made of white gold - no longer platinum.
The difference in the price of the rings was estimated at $188,000.
"I was walking around in a daze because I was just in so much shock about it, I couldn't believe it had actually happened," the woman told the Herald on Sunday.
"It's more about the person who stole it, and their lack of character, their lack of integrity. I think it's disgusting. Some people think they're above the law."
After the couple separated in 2014, the diamond ring was stored in a fireproof safe bolted to the floor of their home.
The pair shared occupation of the home while rotating care of their children up until mid-2016, when the woman moved into a rental property.
A letter from her husband's lawyers, on January 22 said: "Throughout that time, as far as [name removed] knows, the ring remained locked in a fireproof safe bolted to the floor in the [area removed] home undisturbed."
In July 2017, the woman had requested back possession of all her jewellery from the home her husband was still living in.
She was supplied the jewellery, including the $189,000 diamond ring, after agreeing via email to a request from him to take legal responsibility.
"As discussed via text I will take full responsibility for the risk of any loss or theft for the said jewellery," she emailed her husband in July 2017.
From then onwards, she stored her diamond ring, along with other jewellery, in a safe at the Auckland home of a friend.
The friend told the Herald on Sunday only she and her husband had the combination to the safe, and her friend only retrieved one set of earrings in late 2018, and returned them, during their storage in that safe.
The woman retrieved all her jewellery from her friend's safe in January 2019.
The ring remained there until January 18, 2019, when she got the ring appraised at Jewellery Valuation Centre.
After discovering she was no longer in possession of the $189,000 diamond ring, the woman lodged a complaint with police, who confirmed "the matter was looked into by staff".
"However, in this case the level of evidential sufficiency needed to proceed was not met," a police spokesperson said.
The police response has left the woman at a loss on how to she is to recover the $188,000 in equity.
"I think because the theft was undertaken two or three years ago it's hard for the police to do an accurate investigation. You know what I mean, the time lapse," she said.
"I'm incredibly disappointed because the person responsible needs to be reprimanded for this act, this despicable act.
"It's not the behaviour of someone who's normal. It's behaviour of someone who has no empathy, no conscience, and no integrity."
The woman is still working through litigation to officially divorce her husband, five years after they separated.
"I'm not bitter and twisted about this. I think karma comes to people in the end. It might take some time but when people undertake this sort of inappropriate activity, it comes back to them in the end," she said.
"For me it's about moving positively forward for the sake of myself and my children, and my business."