A Closer Look At The Top 5 Most Expensive Sapphires Sold At Auction

A Closer Look At The Top 5 Most Expensive Sapphires Sold At Auction

Learn more about the rarest and most extraordinary sapphires
Learn more about the rarest and most extraordinary sapphires

Why are Sapphires Valuable 

Sapphires have been cherished for thousands of years, with their discovery dating back to ancient civilizations. Sapphires are celebrated for their rich and deep blue colors. Throughout history, they have been used in spectacular crown jewels, engagement rings, and one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. Top luxury brands including Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, Bulgari, and Harry Winston all make high jewelry pieces featuring rare sapphires. Sotheby's has had the privilege of auctioning some of the most extraordinary and rarest sapphires in the world.

Today, Sapphires are mined in several countries, notable sources include Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Madagascar, Thailand, and Australia. As mines worldwide produce fewer deep-colored and large sapphire gems, any sapphire above 5-carats is a cause for celebration among gem connoisseurs. The most extraordinary and highest-priced sapphires are from the regions of Ceylon, Kashmir, and Burma. Each region is known for having unique distinct features. Ceylon sapphires are known for their vibrancy. Gemstones from this area are praised for their rich blue hues and velvety silk appearance. Kashmir sapphires are some of the rarest sapphires in the world. The Kashmir mines were most successful between 1882 and 1887. In these lucrative years, the largest and deepest blue-colored sapphires were mined. Burma sapphires have been known for producing some of the world's best “cornflower blue” and “royal blue” sapphires. Sotheby's auctions have featured natural and unheated sapphires from these desirable regions.

Top Five Most Expensive Sapphires

The Richelieu Sapphires, a pair of rare and magnificent sapphire and diamond earrings

1. The Richelieu Sapphires $8.4M 

In November 2013, the magnificent Richelieu Sapphires, a pair of earrings sold at Sotheby’s Geneva for $8.4M. Each earring features a cushion-shaped natural unheated Kasmir sapphire weighing 26.66 and 20.88-carats respectively. The sapphires are suspended from a star surmount set with cushion-shaped and pear-shaped diamonds. The Jewels from the Collection of Odile de Richelieu, are from Countess Gabriel de La Rochefoucauld, Princess de La Rochefoucauld (1879-1974). It is understood that the sapphires in these earrings were given to Odile de La Chapelle de Jumilhac de Richelieu as a wedding gift on the occasion of her marriage to Count Gabriel de la Rochefoucauld, Prince de La Rochefoucauld, in 1905.

Unmounted oval sapphire weighing 114.73 carats.

2. Unmounted Burmese Sapphire $7.2M

This unmounted sapphire sold at Sothebys auction for $7.2M in 2013. The sapphire’s origin is from the mines of Mogok, Burma. Burma is a country in Southeast Asia known for producing some of the most spectacular rubies and sapphires. Burma mines are made up of 80-90% rubies, making a sapphire discovery of this size very rare. Sapphires found in this region are known for their “royal blue” color. The strong blue saturation in this sapphire is completely natural and there are no signs of heating. This sapphire is roughly the size of a cherry tomato: measuring 29.48 x 22.94 x 19.47 mm. It weighs 114.739 carats. A natural sapphire of this size from Burma is considered to be a true treasure of nature. The stone was cut from rough crystal into an oval shape which best exhibits the color and clarity of the beautiful unmounted sapphire.

Oscar & Heyman Sapphire and Diamond Ring

3. Oscar & Heyman Sapphire Ring $5.1M

This 8.18-carat Kashmir sapphire ring broke records at auction for one of the most expensive Kashmir sapphire sales in the world in 2014. It exceeded its $4-5 million estimate and sold at $5.1 million, equaling $180,731 per carat. The ring features a 28.18-carat Kashmir sapphire surrounded by 32 tapered baguette diamonds set by Oscar Heyman & Brothers. This ring stands out for its richly saturated and velvety blue color which is characteristic of a Kashmir sapphire. In addition, the sapphire is eye-clean and has almost perfect clarity. This record-breaking ring exhibits the beauty of an unheated Kashmir sapphire making it the perfect cocktail ring.

Impressive and Rare Sapphire and Diamond Necklace

4. Impressive and Rare Sapphire and Diamond Necklace $4.2M

An exceptional natural Ceylon sapphire necklace sold for $4.2M at auction in 2014. Ceylon sapphires are renowned for their exquisite beauty and quality. Ceylon Sapphires are also called Sri Lankan Sapphires and are found in Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon. The magnificent sapphires from this area of the world are celebrated for their rich blue hues and velvety silk appearance. This necklace is no exception, it features a 102.61 cushioned-shaped sapphire completed by a double-strand necklace set with brilliant-cut diamonds. The diamonds in this necklace weigh approximately 60.00 carats and are all VS clarity E to G colors.

Exceptional and Very Rare Sapphire and Diamond Ring

5. Kasmir Sapphire Ring $4M

This Kashmir sapphire ring sold at Sotheby's 2014 Magnificent Jewels And Jadeite sale for approximately $4M. The ring features a 17.16 step-cut sapphire surrounded by circular-cut and brilliant-cut diamonds. The sapphire is natural and unheated. It exhibits the deepest blue color customary of the Kasmir mines. To the naked eye, the Kashmir sapphire is completely clear and has no signs of inclusions. Under a 10x loupe the sapphire has minute natural inclusions at a corner that are not noticeable to the naked eye. The surrounding diamonds are about E to F colors with VVS to VS clarity.

Buying and Selling Sapphire Jewelry at Sotheby's

While none of these spectacular sapphires are available, Sotheby's has several ways to buy high-quality unheated sapphire jewelry. We have jewelry auctions in New York, Geneva, Paris, and Hong Kong annually with a curated selection of rare unheated sapphire rings and other sapphire jewelry. Sotheby's also has a curated selection of high-quality unheated sapphire jewelry available for immediate purchase through our marketplace. You can also contact a Salon Associate in New York or Bucherer in Zurich to learn more about natural sapphire jewelry at Sotheby's. If you have natural sapphire jewelry to sell, you can contact a Jewelry Specialist to learn more about your selling options.

Jewelry Buy Now The Luxury Sales

About the Author

More from Sotheby's

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

arrow Created with Sketch. Back To Top