Woman sentenced for swapping $5.7 million in diamonds for a handful of pebbles at jewelry store

Originally published at: Woman sentenced for swapping $5.7 million in diamonds for a handful of pebbles at jewelry store | Boing Boing


Not another ice heist by a senior citizen…


I don’t know why they’re complaining. Their worthless carbon was replaced by much more expensive quartz.


$5.7 million in diamonds

And just in case it needed to be said…theft is bullshit, too.


You have to be really careful using the right amount of pebbles:


I wonder if she would have gotten away with it had she swapped a bag with similarly wrapped zircons.


that’s the first thing I thought of too!

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The headline struck me wrong. Swapping diamonds for pebbles would imply that she gave them diamonds, rather than the reverse.

Also, all values mentioned for any criminal charges are guaranteed to be inflated. I’d almost bet that the $5.7 million quoted is not their cost but some un-discounted retail asking price.


I remember an episode of Law & Order that started that way; someone coming into a jewelry dealer’s place in the guise of inspecting high-quality diamonds with an accomplice creating a distraction that allowed them to pull a switcheroo with cubic zirconium lookalikes.


What’s the big deal? Sounds like a victimless crime to me.


Boodles is a great name.


They inspected the bag with an X-ray photograph. All else being equal, the smaller nuclei of lower atomic number elements scatter fewer X-rays and therefore are more radiolucent (transparent to X-rays). Since diamonds are pure carbon (Z=6), they show up much less brightly than an oxide (Z=8) of zirconium (Z=40).

Here’s a comparison:

Diamond vs Cubic Zirconia Crystal Radiograph (X-ray photograph) higher atomic number (high-Z) materials scatter more X-rays


Notably, the diamonds were never recovered. Sounds like she’s getting paid a million dollars a year to stay in prison. Might be worth it.

(I realize that if she works for a criminal organization she’d be sharing the proceeds of fencing the diamonds, which would sell for less than the claimed retail value, but still, I do think 5 years is pretty light for a theft of 5 million dollars worth of unrecovered property when people likely (I don’t know UK prosecutions) get significant sentences for much, much smaller thefts.)


The crime occurred in March and she wasn’t arrested until September. Decoys might have bought her a couple days more time, but they didn’t even check the diamonds until the next day and surely would have discovered the ruse eventually. She was already out of the country before they discovered the switch, so it seems that she had time enough.

Also, just speculating, but I imagine there are probably limited numbers of places where you can get custom-made cubic zirconium jewels that closely resemble a 20-carat heart-shaped diamond so checking out those sources might have just given investigators another way to track her down.


it might not have gotten to the x-ray so soon though:

But when Boodles’ own expert became suspicious the next day, the bag was X-rayed

Boodles’ expert probably was made suspicious by the pebbles…if the Zirconium didn’t trigger those suspicions then the x-rays might not have happened.

Also it’s really funny that they’re so careful, they won’t even OPEN the packages to examine the contents because, wow, that would be a security breach! Meanwhile they have pebbles in the package.


This is either what becomes of failed magicians, or this is what the greatest magicians are doing right now, I’m not sure which.


I was thinking they might have had a verbal or even legal agreement not to open the bag between the time the thief selected them and the nonexistent buyer picked them up. Also, if they’re a high-end enough jeweler to stock £2.2 million diamonds, they probably have an X-ray machine on site.


Hmmm, as a lover of heist films and hater of the diamond industry, I’m abstractly rooting for her.
I wonder if she’d been more slick about doffing her disguise if she may have made a clean getaway…like, if she’d gone into some public building, then emerged as a different persona, how would they have traced her?
I am SO ready for my heist moment, if ever it shall come. :wink: