Regarded by many as the finest Sapphires in the world, they were first discovered in 1879 in the Padar region of Kashmir in Northern India after a landslip allegedly uncovered their occurrence. The Kashmir Sapphire has been known for over a century as “the Jewel of India”. Unfortunately, after just a few years of mining, the area became unworkable due to the deposit being in the middle of a politically unstable area and one fraught with conflict. The matter worsened in 1947 after the partition of the subcontinent, and Kashmir, which is located in the Himalayas some 4500 metres above sea level, has been war torn ever since. So whether it is a result of the conflict or the fact that the mine was depleted within just a few years of its discovery is still not completely understood and remains one of the most talked about topics in gem circles.
Even though the driving force behind its true rarity is not known, at an auction at Christie’s in 2007 a 22.66 carat Kashmir Sapphire set in a gold pendant fetched a price of $3,064,000. This equates to around £85,000 per carat!
Kashmir Sapphires are renowned world wide for their almost sleepy appearance. The reason for this is that they have thousands of microscopic inclusions: these cannot be seen by the naked eye, but under a microscope can normally be identified. Also known as flour, these inclusions diffuse the light, providing the Sapphire with its legendary sleepy appearance. The Kashmir Sapphire typically is a very pure blue, with few secondary colours and has a medium tone of 70 to 80%.