Police are trying to track down two men who stole Cartier's most expensive ring, but one thing is clear: the bilingual, elegantly attired thieves were savvy.
Without pulling a weapon, the two men walked off with a euro500,000 ($693,000) diamond-encrusted ring Tuesday evening from Cartier's store on Via Condotti, a toney shopping street near Rome's Spanish Steps, police said.
Police official Paolo Guiso, who is leading the investigation, told The Associated Press Wednesday that the thieves, speaking Arabic and French, talked their way into seeing several rings after telling the saleswoman they needed a special gift for a wedding.
Italian news reports said the thieves were North Africans, but Guiso said that investigators were still trying to determine their nationality.
Cartier's press office in Milan declined to describe the stolen ring or confirm Italian press reports that a 5-carat diamond formed the centerpiece, and that the rest of the piece was encrusted with much smaller diamonds.
On Tuesday night, Rome's police headquarters said the thieves were shown the store's most expensive ring at their request. After an inspection at the store Wednesday, Guiso said the two men worked deftly and quickly.
"One man distracted the saleswoman" and while she was taking out still another ring to show the customers, "the other quickly took the ring," Guiso said.
He said one of the men then left, claiming he needed to find someone who spoke Italian but never came back. The other man also quickly and calmly exited the store. Both apparently blended into a crowd of shoppers outside.
Witnesses said Tuesday the pair was seen getting into a waiting sedan with a driver and quickly left the scene.
But Guiso said it hasn't been confirmed the thieves had a getaway car waiting.
Police said images from a video surveillance camera are being examined.