THE PRIDE OF KASHMIR
Remotely hidden in the lap of the spectacular snow-capped Himalayas, the sapphires of Kashmir form an exclusive class of their own. It is not the location that has earned the Kashmir gem its legendary status, but instead the superiority of their intense soft blue and rarity.
Discovered by chance as a result of a landslide between 1879 and 1882, the initial labour intensive production yielded some of the region’s finest and largest crystals. However, by 1887 the original ‘Old Mine’ was exhausted and its replacement, the ‘New Mine’, was abandoned in 1908 due to poor weather conditions and limited quantity of fine gemstones. Since those early days, the mining of Kashmir sapphires have only been sporadic and their supply limited due to remoteness and political unrest of the region.
The incomparable velvety blue colour of a Kashmir sapphire, akin to the beautiful hue of the peacock’s neck, excels under any light, without the purplish or greyish hues that sometimes characterise non-Kashmir sapphires. This superb velvety blue colour is due to microscopic inclusions which scatter the light, causing the coveted visual effect without negatively affecting the gem’s transparency and to a well-balanced combination of trace elements.
Considered symbols of nobility, loyalty and faithfulness, sapphires have been used throughout the centuries to express love, harmony, truth and sincerity. In Greek and Roman times, kings, queens and rulers believed that blue sapphires protected their owners from envy and harm. During the Middle Ages, clergymen wore sapphire jewellery to symbolise Heaven.
In October 2014, Sotheby’s Hong Kong achieved consecutive per-carat record prices for Kashmir sapphires – first with the 12.00 carat Cartier sapphire ring at US$193,975, and then with a 17.16 carat sapphire at US$236,404. A year later, at the Hong Kong Autumn Week sales in October 2015, the present per-carat world auction record was set at US$242,145 when a 27.68 carat Kashmir sapphire was sold - a testament to the insatiable desire for sapphires of this prestigious pedigree.
The Pride of Kashmir offered here, as described by Gübelin, “possesses a velvety richly saturated and homogenous colour, combined with a high degree of transparency, and a finely proportioned cut”, representing the pinnacle of Kashmir’s output, a rare opportunity to own one of nature’s greatest treasures.
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