KASHMIR is known as the “Heaven on Earth,“ with its snow-capped mountains, lakes and fields of flowers. It is a place of simplicity and pristine natural beauty.
Kashmir Blue Sapphire is the finest variety of Blue Sapphire, highly popular due to its ‘TRUE’ blue hue and velvety texture. It was sourced from the Kashmir sapphire mines during 18th century (1882 to 1887).
When the Maharaja of Kashmir heard of the presence of the bright blue beautiful sapphires, Maharaja’s soldiers were dispatched to secure the mine for the “Maharaja of Kashmir” and hence, the sapphires got the name “Kashmir Sapphire”.
I compiled a few clips from the original “Film on sapphire of Kashmir by Patrick Voillet” explaining how the Kashmir Sapphires are sourced.
As the name indicates, the blue Kashmir sapphire was discovered in the Padar portion of Kashmir. They descend from a remote part of the Himalaya Mountains, known as the Zanskar range. From the year 1882 to 1887, the mines were worked day and night throughout the summer, also known as the “Glory Days“ of Kashmir mines, as large gems were discovered during the period, months until the mines were depleted.
It wasn’t until 1887 that a geologist LA Touche, discovered that the sapphire stones, some as large as eggplants, originated from two separate locations. One location, known as the “Old Mine” included the pits within the valley and a second location which included the valley floor just below the Old Mine.
The Velvet Blue colour makes the Kashmir Sapphire very RARE and EXPENSIVE. The video below gives us a detailed explanation.
Kashmir sapphires are renowned for their brilliance and strong saturation of Velvet Blue, which is reminiscent of the colour of a peacock’s neck. The velvet colour of the Kashmir sapphire excels under any light, this is the result of the tiny Faint Silk inclusion found throughout the crystal that scatters the light, helping the Kashmir sapphire to hold the colour in all lighting condition. Even the small concentration of the fine colour illuminates the entire structure of the gems.
While some Burmese and Ceylonese sapphires come relatively close in quality, only the Kashmir Sapphire continues its reign of “King of the Sapphire World”.
Featured above is THE PRIDE OF KASHMIR, an exceptional and very rare Kashmir Sapphire weighing 20.22 carats.
The certified reports of laboratory’s SSEF, Gübelin, GIA have mentioned the Sapphire with NO indications of heating which means they are Unheated. Flanked by two trilliant-cut diamonds, mounted in platinum and 18 karats yellow gold, ring mount signed HW.
Moving Ahead I would like to bring to your notice what does Unheated and Heated Sapphire mean and how do they affect the value of the gemstone?
Majority of the sapphires in the marketplace have been heat-treated or thermally enhanced in furnaces. Heat treatment is used to improve a sapphire’s colour, remove colour zoning, and improve clarity. This processes may increase the stone’s beauty, but not its value.
Needly, cloudlike inclusions, known as Silk are visible under magnification which is a proof of the absence of Heat treatment in Kashmir Sapphire. Sapphire can be listed as “Natural” simply because it is not lab-created. However, “Natural” does not mean the sapphire has not undergone any alterations. The key term is “UNHEATED,” meaning a sapphire is natural, NOT lab created and has NOT been subject to any chemical or heat treatments. Approximately only 0.5 – 1% of the sapphires discovered are of gem-quality without treatment. Natural Untreated sapphires are rare and valuable than treated and chemically altered stones.
Featured above is Peacock Necklace, certified by SSEF 2018, Gübelin, GIA mentioning its origin as Kashmir, with No indications of heating, offered in Magnificent Jewels Sales on 27 November 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong. It is made up of 21 cushion-shaped sapphires from 10.56 to 3.02 carats each, 23 cushion-shaped diamonds from 4.05 to 1.03 carats, set in platinum. 109 carats in this one necklace took more than 100 years to assemble and it took more than 15 years to complete this gorgeous necklace!
Few Exceptional Kashmir Sapphire Jewels:
1) Sapphire and Diamond Brooch:
Sapphire and diamond brooch, late 19th century from an Austrian noble family which was sold at 3,315,000 CHF at the Sotheby Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Nov 2018, Geneva, According to the Swiss Gemmological Institute ,SSEF, the sapphires, weighing 46.86cts, 10.09cts and 9.93cts respectively, are “perfectly cut as high-domed cabochons”, and assembling a set of three natural Sapphires from Kashmir of this size and quality can be considered very rare and exceptional. The additional fittings allow wearing the cluster as earrings, a comb or different brooches.
2) The Jewel Of Kashmir
“The Jewel of Kashmir” from the Magnificent Jewels & Jadeite Auction 2015 by Sotheby’s. An emerald-cut Kashmir Sapphire 27.68cts, set with pear-shaped diamonds mounted in white gold. AGL, Gübelin and SSEF reports stated that the 27.68-carat sapphire is natural, of Kashmir origin, with no indications of heating and the colour of this sapphire may also be called ‘royal blue’ in the trade. The sapphire received the highest and most prestigious Total Quality Integration RatingTM of Exceptional.
It has been a wonderful learning experience for me, curating the series of Kashmir Sapphire, and makes me so very proud of my country for providing the best of the best quality of gemstones!
Stay tuned for my next series on Know Your Gems!! Till then Keep Shining Bright!!