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Dallas heiress’ 17.6-carat yellow diamond ring soars past estimates in charity auction

Late Dallas philanthropist Mary Ann Sammons Cree gave her prized jewelry collection to a local charity, raising nearly $1.9 million.

The jewelry collection of Mary Ann Sammons Cree, the late daughter of a Dallas billionaire business magnate, sold at auction for more than $1.9 million for the Communities Foundation of Texas, including nearly $600,000 for a whopping 17.6-carat yellow diamond ring.

The 125-piece collection was auctioned off piece by piece through Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which finished bidding Thursday. The collection exceeded estimates that it would sell for $1.5 million.

Cree was the daughter of Charles Sammons, the late billionaire and founder of Sammons Enterprises, one of the largest privately owned companies in the country that includes manufacturing, financial, real estate and energy holdings.

Cree died in July 2021 at 91 and gave her jewelry collection to the Communities Foundation to administer a fund named for her own mother, Rosine Smith Sammons. The Rosine fund is focused on nature and performing arts support in the Dallas area.

“Communities Foundation of Texas is honored to carry forth Mary Anne’s legacy of generosity,” said Monica Christopher, the charity’s senior vice president and chief giving and community impact officer, in a statement. “The proceeds from her jewelry sale will provide tremendous support for local nonprofits for years to come.

“We hope that those who purchased any of the 125 pieces from her collection know the positive impact this will bring to our nonprofit community through the Rosine Fund at CFT.”

The jewelry collection featured expensive pieces such as a pair of yellow diamond, platinum and 18-karat gold earrings that sold for $225,000. Another 6.7-carat diamond ring with two yellow diamonds sold for $167,750 and a platinum and gold necklace adorned with diamonds sold for $162,500.

Mary Anne Cree, left, with Jennifer Sampson, CEO of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas at...
Mary Anne Cree, left, with Jennifer Sampson, CEO of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas at the Tocqueville Society luncheon at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on Oct. 29, 2018.(Kelly Alexander)

But the yellow diamond ring was an eye-catching piece of the collection because of its 17.6-carat yellow diamond in the middle adorned with baguette-cut diamonds, platinum, yellow and white gold. The $591,000 bid was nearly twice as much as appraisers had expected it to sell for.

“The pieces are of exceptional quality, so they stand by themselves on their own,” said Jill Burgum, Heritage Auction’s executive director of fine jewelry, in August as the auction started. “But the icing on the cake is to know that the piece will go to a good cause to help the community.”

Before she died, Cree gave $10 million to the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and gave donations to build a butterfly house and insectarium at The Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park.

The Sammons Cree collection was part of a larger seasonal jewelry auction at Heritage that brought in more than $8 million for charities and private sellers alike, including a rare scarlet diamond with a winning bid of $1.755 million.

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