Largest Kashmir sapphire sold for $3.9 million at Sotheby's auction house, Geneva

Despite advancement in modern technology, medicine, science, computer application, internet, etc., man's quest for antique jewelry and  expensive gem stones has not diminished, rather it is on the increase. Surprisingly, the buyers in the auction houses in Europe  are young and not elderly people who take keen interest in gemology, etc.  Among the precious stones, Kashmir sapphire  are sought by the rich for their rarity, shine and gem quality. 

Kashmir sapphire

Kashmir sapphire 59.19 Ct gem..

The Kashmir sapphire, a 55.19 carat gem (see the images above; featured with 1930 brooch), once in the in the collection of Maureen Constance Guinness, a marchioness of the aristocratic Anglo-Irish brewing family, who died in 1998 was put up in the auction held in May, 2021 in Geneva by Sotheby's Auction House.  Being the largest one in the world 55.19 carat in weight it fetched US $3.9 million.  Also sold in the same auction was Savoy royal tiara (it fetched US$ 1.6 million. The latter was in the possession of in the Italian House of Royal dynasty for more than 150 years. These jewels were sold along with custom-made sapphires weighing 25.97 Ct and the pair got US$ 2-3 million. 

Royal Italian tiara.

Above image: The historical tiara was a gift to Maria Vittoria dal Pozzo on her marriage in 1867 to Amadeo I of the Italian House of Savoy, later king of Spain. It was  passed down through generations of Italy's royal family and stayed there for 150 long years. .............................

What is unique about sapphires is you seldom get a quality gemstone  weighing more than 30Ct.  Kashmir sapphires are well-known for their gem-quality and luster and the colored ones are rare. First discovered  in the 1880s in Kashmir, now part of India, the mining activities of sapphires did not last for a long time. The mines were active from  1882 and 1887. Many of the gems from the Kashmir valley were in great demand and most coveted on the gem market; no doubt, over the years they got a legendary status. Another fact to be noted is  they  contain only the best specimens with excellent gem quality -  superior cornflower blue tint with a sleepy quality to them. Most describe them as ‘blue velvet’. With respect to  some Burmese and Ceylonese sapphires,  they come closer to the ones from Kashmir. This is the reason why the sapphires from Kashmir rated way high in the  list. The added mythical allurement  of them is due to its rare occurrences. 

Kashmir sapphire 59.19 Ct

According to Sotheby's spokesperson the  unprecedented global demand for royal jewelry, particularly from younger clients in Asia has never come down. Part of the reason is many of the diamond, sapphire  mines, etc., in Asia, in particular, India  became  dry long long ago. Premium quality gem stones are rare nowadays  unlike 1in the 8th or 19th centuries. 

Kashmir sapphire mines NW Himalayas (India).

Kashmir sapphires  used to be found in the Himalayan mountains  and the mines in Zanskar  range were famous for gems. The Himalaya mountains known as the Zanskar range consist of moraines  at a high elevation caused by movement of glaciers.   Here a geologic fault  had brought the gem-bearing rock formations  from the bottom  to the surface and the gem stones  became exposed due to weathering process  on the surface  The uncut gems were brought to Shimla from here by  traders from Lahol.  Not knowing their value, people used to sell them at a cheap rate. The Maharajah of Kashmir, in order to protect the mines used to have guards posted there. The mines became dry over a short period  due to over exploitation. 

To crate interest and passion  among the rich young prospective clients, Sotheby this time  followed a novel method -  created an Instagram filter that allows people to create a picture of themselves wearing the Savoy tiara in an embellished Italian palace. 

As for sapphires, the mines in Sri Lanka and Burma (Myanmar) are known to have produced high quality gems in the past. 


Christy's Auction House, Geneva, May, 2020:

12 Ct Kashmir

35 ct Kashmir

A beautiful 35.09-carat Kashmir blue sapphire ring just sold for $7,357,999 at Christie’s Geneva sale of Magnificent Jewels on May 13. 2020. This sale, totaling 8 million   dollars, established a new record price at auction for a Kashmir sapphire, at more than $200,000 per carat! The pair got a record price of $7 million dollars.