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In Search of Sapphires

In Search of Sapphires

Discover the Sapphires of December with Katherine Van Dell, Director of Rago’s Jewelry Department

20 November 2017

By Katherine Van Dell, Director of Rago’s Fine Jewelry Department

These gems have life in them: their colors speak, say what words fail of.

~George Eliot

The lure of precious gemstones and their discovery, often in some of the world’s remotest regions, is the stuff of legend.

One such region, an isolated stretch of terrain situated along the ridge of the Himalayan Mountains, was the sight of a series of mines that, for the briefest of times, produced the finest sapphires ever plucked from the earth. Its name is Kashmir, a disputed territory bordering Pakistan and India.

The Kashmir sapphire mines were in operation from 1882 to 1887, exhausted after only five years of exceedingly difficult and dangerous extraction. These stones, of a deep, saturated blue, are exceptionally rare. They are the most desirable of sapphires and command the highest price per carat. At auction in 2013, a pair of cushion-cut Kashmir sapphire earrings weighing 26.66 and 20.88 cts. respectively sold for $8,358,520.

Lot 2390 - Bvlgari Untreated Kashmir Sapphire & Diamond Bypass Ring

Est. $50,000 – 70,000

Rago is proud to present Lot 2390, a Bvlgari untreated Kashmir sapphire and diamond bypass ring with an approx. 4.33 cts. (by formula) pear-cut sapphire . This is the largest and finest Kashmir sapphire ever offered at Rago.

The stone exhibits the rutile inclusions (needle-like crystals) characteristic of Kashmir sapphires and responsible for their deep saturation of color. Bvlgari designed a spectacular setting for the gem, accentuating its color and mass with a pear-cut diamond in a curvilinear bypass.

Lot 2391 - Untreated Burma Sapphire, Diamond & Platinum Ring

Est. $40,000 – 60,000

Second only to Kashmir in quality, the mines of Burma are famous for producing large sapphires of a deep, royal blue hue. Sapphires from Burma are more readily available than those from Kashmir, but are also of limited quantity and highly coveted. Lot 2391 features an untreated 10+ carat Burmese stone with deep coloring - a superior example of a stone from this region.

While sapphires from both Burma and Kashmir are beautiful and desirable, a top-quality Kashmir sapphire is potentially the more valuable stone per carat. Distinguishing between these stones can be complicated, as the trace elements present in stones from Burma and Kashmir are similar. It is therefore essential to verify the origin of sapphires ascribed to these regions through the analysis of a reputable lab such as the American Gemological Laboratories (AGL). Both the rings shown here are accompanied by certificates from the AGL.

See these, and hundreds of other colorful and fine gems, in the online catalog for our December 3 Fine Jewelry Auction.