Thursday, 6 July 2017

Kashmir Sapphire

The most famous sapphires in the world are from Kashmir, and they are extraordinarily rare.

New sapphires are rarely discovered in Kashmir, and most of the material that exists was discovered more than 100 years ago. Kashmir sapphires are highly valued because the best specimens have a superb cornflower blue colour and a sleepy quality (due to rutile inclusions) that has been described as "blue velvet."

Sapphires were first discovered in the early 1880s, as a result of a landslide high up in the Himalayas at about 4,500 meters in the remote Kudi Valley of India. By 1887, the original Kashmir mine was depleted. Though a new mine opened briefly and sporadic mining has occurred over the decades, the majority of sapphires from the Kashmir region that are on the market today were drawn from the ground in the short life of the original mine.

Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, lying mainly in a valley between India and Pakistan. A region of great beauty, Kashmir was a princely state in the 19th century. It became a disputed territory after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, when it joined India rather than Pakistan. The dispute continues to this day.

Between 1882 and 1887 the mine was very productive, yielding sapphire crystals of exceptional quality and size.

By 1887 declining production led the Maharajah of Kashmir to request geological assistance from the government of British India, in the hope of finding more material. The British geologist found the original mine to be exhausted, and turned his survey to placer deposits elsewhere in the valley.

Exploration failed to uncover new sapphire. Over the years geological surveys were mounted and mining efforts undertaken during the three months of summer free from snow. But the marvels that came out of the original mine were never matched, and today the area is mostly under control of Muslim tribes.
Richelieu Sapphires
Sapphire earrings with sapphires of 26.66 and 20.88 carats; $8,372,094 ($176,106 per carat) at Sotheby's Geneva November 2013 sale.

Star of Kashmir
Cushion-shaped sapphire of 19.88 carats set in a diamond ring; $3,483,017 ($175,202 per carat) at Christie's Geneva May 2013 sale.
A 28.18-carat square emerald-cut Kashmir sapphire sold for nearly $5.1 million in April 2014. It achieved $180,731 per carat, setting a world auction record of a price per carat of a sapphire. The untreated gem is framed by 32 tapered baguette diamonds with a mounting by Oscar Heyman & Brothers.

10.33 carat Kashmir sapphire, $2.4 million in 2013.

A 26.41-carat cushion-cut Kashmir sapphire and diamond brooch sold for $3,838,508 in November 2011.

Kashmir Sapphire of 42.88 carats. Estimate: $2.8-3.8 million

The "Jewel of Kashmir," 27.68 carat sapphire set a new per carat auction record for sapphire on 7 October 2015, when it sold for $6,745,688

A sapphire and diamond ring fetched $1.35 million in December 2015 setting a world-record for a Kashmir sapphire under 10 carats ($172,000 per carat).
A 42.28-carat Kashmir Sapphire and Diamond Ring - $3,458,420.