The odds are infinitely higher than winning the national lottery. A one-in-a-thousand chance to walk away with an astonishing one-in-a-million 60-carat aquamarine worth £40,000 is the creative way that the prison charity Fine Cell Work prison intends to raise money.
The multi-faceted, unheated, cushion-cut aquamarine from Mozambique was donated to the Fine Cell Work charity by renowned gem hunter Guy Clutterbuck.
With more than 20 years' experience of sourcing gemstones from countries such as Zambia, Madagascar, Mozambique and Pakistan, Clutterbuck was aware that the aquamarine was a very rare find as soon as he laid eyes on it. "I knew instantly that it was a special stone and that it could be cut into something exceptional. Normally, you would have to heat it to increase the depth of colour to disguise any impurities. It is rare to find an aquamarine of this size, so pale, pure and flawless."
Sri Lankan experts have cut the stone into the antique cushion-cut, which maximises its extraordinary properties. Fine Cell Work is providing £1,500 towards the cost of setting it into a piece of jewellery for the lucky winner.
Georgina Skan, who recently launched her eponymous jewellery brand and has created bespoke pieces for Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and Jade Jagger, is looking forward to designing a piece around the stunning gem. "I enjoy creating timeless pieces that I hope will become heirlooms for future generations. I am so happy when a client tells me they will treasure the piece and pass it down their family," she says. "I like to think that the Fine Cell Work aquamarine will reflect its eventual owner's personality and become a talking point about the charity's excellent activities."
Victoria Gillies, Managing Director of Fine Cell Work, says of the raffle, which will be drawn by Esther Freud and David Morrissey on 20 November 2014 at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office: "This is a remarkably generous gift and a wonderful opportunity for someone to win a gemstone beyond anyone's wildest dreams. At Fine Cell Work we, and our army of volunteers, work every day with prisoners to help turn their lives around. We're delighted to have such a unique chance to raise money to continue that work."
She adds: "Buying a raffle ticket might change your life by winning you this beautiful stone, and it will certainly change the lives of those our charity works with."
Having experienced adversity in life himself, Clutterbuck is a long-time supporter of Fine Cell Work, which teaches embroidery to prisoners. The creative needlework, which is undertaken in their cells, enables the prisoners to earn money as well as developing their self-esteem and discipline to help them cope with life both in and out of prison.
One thousand tickets for the raffle, at £50 each, are currently being sold via the charity's website www.finecellwork.co.uk/raffle.