Kashmir Sapphires: A Detailed Guide for Collectors and Enthusiasts
Kashmir sapphire ring with diamonds

Kashmir Sapphires: A Detailed Guide for Collectors and Enthusiasts

Learn more about the rich history and exceptional quality of Kashmir Sapphires
Learn more about the rich history and exceptional quality of Kashmir Sapphires

Kashmir Sapphires are some of the world's most desirable and rarest sapphires. Many legends surround the deep blue gems attracting collectors, gemologists, and museums to the unique gemstone. A Kashmir Sapphire displays a deep rich color and has a character that sets it apart from all available sapphires on the market making them some of the most expensive sapphires in the world. In recent years, Sotheby’s has had the privilege to auction some of the most spectacular Kashmir Sapphires in existence.

The Discovery Of Kashmir Sapphires

Kashmir Sapphire and Diamond Ring 20.84 Carats

Kashmir Sapphires were unexpectedly discovered high in the Zanskar region of the Himalayas after an avalanche in 1881. In early gemological reports, this remote area in northwest India was called “the region beyond the snow”. The avalanche exposed a large untouched terrain within it was a pegmatitic rock filled with precious sapphires. From 1882-1887 the finest largest stones were mined from this glacial rock. Some stones found during this lucrative period were three to five inches in size. The first mining of Kashmir Sapphires in this area is now referenced as the “old mine”. After this period, the “old mine” deposits were completely excavated, leading to a sixteen-year lull in operations. The Kashmir government and private companies worked in the area from 1910-1970s in an attempt to discover new mines. While there was some success in these years, the tough environment and prevailing political instability made access and exportation of the sapphire mines very challenging. In early 2024, a statement was released by the Kashmiri officials in partnership with India’s Gem and Jewelry Export Council, stating that mining will commence in May 2024.

The Fascination Of Kashmir Sapphires


To the visible eye, the captivating velvety blue color of Kashmir Sapphires is unsurpassed by any other region of sapphires. The color is a unique combination of rich blue hues with soft allure. Under a light Kashmir sapphires glow blue. In contrast, sapphires from other regions may have more of a purplish or grayish hue under light. Additionally, scarcity is another alluring factor of these gems. Since the “old mines' ' were only mined for three months at a time from 1882-1887, the rarity drives up the price and demand.

Natural unheated sapphires are highly desirable within the global luxury jewelry market. At the high end of the market, natural sapphires have also been more popular than natural emeralds and rubies based on recent auction prices. Sapphires are acclaimed for their seductive beauty, modern look, and mystic properties. In general, sapphires are associated with the power to focus and calm the mind, aid mental tension and depression, and encourage faithfulness and loyalty in partners. Kashmir Sapphires specifically are known to symbolize the third eye chakra which enhances intuition and protects against negative energies.

Kashmir Sapphires at Auction

THE JEWEL OF KASHMIR Exceptional Sapphire and Diamond Ring

Sotheby’s has been at the forefront of overseeing record-breaking sales of Kashmir sapphires worldwide. One of the most expensive Kasmire sapphire sales was the Richelieu Sapphires in 2013 sold for $7.7M CHF featured in a pair of impressive cushion shaped sapphire earrings. The earrings were from the Collection of Odile de Richelieu, 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. Another exceptional piece to sell at auction is the Jewel Of Kashmir. The ring sold in 2015 at Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels & Jadeite Sale in Hong Kong for 52.3M HKD which is approximately $6.7M. The ring features an emerald-cut sapphire weighing 27.68 carats, surrounded by a double set of pear-shaped diamonds weighing 5.70 carats mounted in 18K white gold. According to Gübelin, AGL and SSEF reports, the sapphire is natural, of Kashmir origin, with no indications of heating and clarity enhancement. AGL letter further states that this sapphire scores the highest and most prestigious rating of “Exceptional”. It also "possesses the quintessential, velvety blue color that distinguishes a fine Kashmir sapphire…stones of this color have been described as having a "cornflower blue" hue." This Kashmir sapphire is a true treasure of nature. Other impressive Kasmire sapphire sales include the $5.1M sale of a 28.18 carat Oscar & Heyman sapphire ring in early 2014 and a 17.16 carat step cut Kasmir sapphire ring set with 6 carats of diamonds that sold for 31.48M HKD or about $4M.

Buying and Selling Kashmir Sapphires at Sotheby's

At Sotheby's, we have several ways to buy high-quality unheated Kashmir sapphire jewelry. We have jewelry auctions in New York, Geneva, Paris, and Hong Kong every year with a curated selection of Kashmir sapphire rings and other jewelry. Sotheby's also has a curated selection of high-quality unheated Kashmir 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 Kashmir sapphire jewelry at Sotheby's. If you have Kashmir sapphire jewelry to sell, you can contact a Jewelry Specialist to learn more about your selling options.

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