Kashmir Sapphires - Knowledge and Buying Tips

by M Khordipour January 31, 2018 2 Comments

Kashmir Sapphires - Knowledge and Buying Tips

Sapphires are one of only four precious stones along with diamond, ruby, and emerald. Although we assume sapphires to always be blue, they can occur in a variety of colors. This includes yellow, orange, green and brown. Grey or black sapphires are also produced as well as clear examples. Even the ruby is a red sapphire. Really, though, it's the deep rich blue color which makes sapphires unique.

Sapphires are not all created equal, however. Those produced in some areas are more desirable than those produced elsewhere. One such desired sapphire is from the Kashmir region of India, high in the Himalayas.

Origins Of Kashmir Sapphires

Sapphires were unknown in Kashmir until the late 19th century. In 1881, a landslide exposed bare rock under the soil top layer. Several large blue stones were embedded in the visible rock. These rocks sold for pennies until it was realized they were sapphires. The local Maharajah claimed possession and posted guards to protect the deposit.

For the next five years, the deposit of sapphire was mined continuously until the resource was all but exhausted. A further, smaller "new mine" deposit was found on the valley floor below the old mine, although this too was to become exhausted within a year.

In the 130 years since the discovery of these deposits, sporadic mining has continued but produced little. No new deposits were found. This makes the original finds the only Kashmir sapphires in existence today.

What Makes Kashmir Sapphires Special?

Foremost, the single deposit makes Kashmir sapphires incredibly rare. Although other sapphire deposits have been found in the region, none are the quality of the old mine deposit. Only those from the old and new mines are called Kashmir sapphires.

Although identical to other blue sapphires in composition, the color of Kashmir sapphires appears different. The color of Kashmir stones is a deep cornflower blue. Unlike most sapphires, which show grey or purple tones under some lights, Kashmir sapphires show the same blue color at all times. The stones also have a lustrous quality which experts describe as "blue velvet". The color has also been described as having a "sleepy" quality. It is this unique luster which separates Kashmir sapphires from all others.

The cause of the "luster effect" is ultra-fine inclusions sending the light in all directions, but without any refraction. This maintains the blue color at all times. After true Kashmir sapphires, those from Burma and Sri Lanka (Ceylon) are also very much sought after. These have a different quality to the color, which separates them from Kashmir sapphires.

Buying Kashmir Sapphires

Because of the rarity of Kashmir sapphires, they almost never appear for sale in the open market. Instead, they will always be found for sale by auction. This is usually by Sotheby's, the premier Kashmir sapphire auction house. As they are considered genuine treasures, the price of a Kashmir sapphire is much higher than for other sapphires. Superb examples have sold for over $175,000 per carat at auction.

You can find sapphires described as "Kashmir origin" or "mined in Kashmir" for sale on the internet quite easily. These are not old mine or new mine Kashmir stones from the 1880s. The price these stones are listed at is a giveaway as to their poor quality.

A request for a certificate of authenticity from a recognized body should be made when buying Kashmir sapphires. Many sapphires sold as Kashmir are not, or are from lower quality mines. Care should always be taken before parting with any money.

Kashmir Sapphire Jewelry

Most Kashmir sapphires are a cushion cut or oval cut. This is thought to best preserve the velvet luster of the color. Rings with larger stones routinely sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Because the time span of production was so short, most sapphire rings sold today that feature a Kashmir sapphire are of Art Nouveau or art déco style. Some were reset into modern designs, but many remain as antique pieces. This also causes prices to stay high.

The Future Of Kashmir Sapphires

No one can accurately predict the future of Kashmir Sapphires. The production of Kashmir sapphires is by pegmatites (granite-crystals) pushing through limestone. The heat generated creates marble, with corundum appearing around the very edge of the marble. It is unlikely that this has only happened in a single place on earth. It is also likely that there are further deposits in or around Kashmir, but these have yet to be located.

Any other finds are also likely to be limited, because of the small size of the original deposits.

For now, though, we assume that Kashmir sapphires will continue to be rare.



M Khordipour
M Khordipour

Author



2 Responses

Helen Sinn
Helen Sinn

February 19, 2018

I’m absolutely in love with these Kashmir Sapphires!

Doug Han
Doug Han

February 08, 2018

A request for the certificate of authenticity is a great idea! Especially when buying Kashmir Sapphires.

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