The blue velvet of Kashmir
Sapphire, as well as ruby and emerald, is one of the most appreciated and known color gems. In particular, the sapphire belongs to the same “family” of the ruby: they are both corundums, or aluminum oxides; it differs from the latter only for its intense and inimitable blue tint produced by the presence of iron in the crystal lattice. Its name derives from a Sanskrit word which means “dear to Saturn”.
Thanks to chemical investigations, for most of the colored gemstones it is possible to diagnose the area of origin and extraction; this type of analysis is fundamental since there are some places that are more attractive and requested by the market, making carats prices soar.
This is particularly valid for blue sapphires, which are extracted in different locations around the world: the most common are Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Madagascar and India.
The very rare and requested Kashmir blue sapphires come from India: the mining area was discovered in the late 1800s and remained productive for about ten years; the sapphires that were found and that are currently known as Kashmir blue sapphires, present an inimitable blue tint, with a general appearance described as “velvety”, due to the presence of minute crystalline inclusions that give the gem an extraordinary appearance.
Just to get an idea: the highest carat price paid in an auction to obtain a Kashmiri sapphire has been of approximately $ 242,000 (October 2015, source: “1860: THE JEWEL OF KASHMIR, Outstanding Sapphire and Ring of diamonds” Magnificent jewels and jadeite, Sotheby’s, recovered on 12 September 2017); the gem sold at auction weighed 27.68 carats!
Considering that the mining site has exhausted in such a short time, it’s very difficult to find these gems, giving a mystical allure to these gifts of nature.