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Blue Sapphire

From dark, vivid blue to slightly violet colour, Kashmiri sapphires are considered the ltimate boues, which resemble the hue of the peacock’s neck. The valley of Kashmir has been the historical source of these finest sapphires of outstanding quality.

Stones from the beautiful valley have a unique beauty of milky transparency that gives them a sleepy, subtle grace illuminating the entire structure of the gem. Kashmir sapphires tend to retain their strong colour under various lighting conditions, whereas sapphires from elsewhere often turn dark and inky look when placed under incandescent lights. Sapphires from Myanmar give an ink look when illuminated with an incandescent light. Earlier, when the sapphires were discovered around 1882 in Kashmir, they were available in plenty and locals used them as flint stones. But today they are only found in old jewellery pieces. According to a report by an eminent gemologist Max Bour in 1904, the Kashmir sapphire in London was once priced for 120 dollars. However, the prices fell when the market was flooded with these gems. Later, when the deposit of Kashmir sapphires nearly depleted around 1925, the trade prices for a polished sapphire rose again to touch 500 dollars per carat.

The Kashmir sapphires continued to gain reputation and appreciation across the world which led to their large scale smuggling to the west despite heavy security near the mine sites. However, many people sol heated Sri Lankan standings whose over induced colour zoning was mistaken for the bonding associated with this Himalayan variety of sapphires. For this reason, buying stones from the Kashmir valley often involved what world renowned New York city gem dealer Ralf Emerson describes as ago-nising judgement calls. Sometimes these calls have little or nothing to do with the stone and everything to do with the seller. My decision is based as much on who shows me the stone. If the person showing it is just back from the far east with a paper full of sapphires, he has already got, two strikes against him, Emerson says.Given the extreme difficulty of verifying sapphires of Kashmir origin these days, many in the trade think origin selling is a dangerous anachronism that should be done away with.Instead they favour judging a gem’s beauty and merit in terms of universal colour grading system.Advocates of this approach say that laboratory grades will reflect the inherent superiority of Kashmir colour. But the product of the Kashmir mines suffers more from flaws and blemishes than those of many other mines.

The gems of Kashmir mines often have window or hole on cavity in their texture. They also suffer at times from ambiguity of colours. It requires special skill to cut the gems as the crystals are covered with a hard crust of earth and it is difficult to know before hand the internal structure.If a specimen is free from cavity or window and does not exhibit ambiguity of colour, it can be cut into an excellent gem.The sapphires of old mines in Kashmir did not suffer from so many blemishes, but now they are no longer available. These sapphires of old mines were, however, unsuitable for medical purposes as they occur in association with other minerals and the foreign matter adheres to them as crusts or in layers. Kashmir sapphires generally remain thick after cutting. Today, blue sapphires from other sources are competing with Kashmir sapphires.Myanmar produces some of the finest sapphires which are gifted with a medium dark ‘royal’ blue colour. These stones have the haziness of a Kashmir sapphire, the quality that makes it irresistible. But still nothing can match the beauty of the original Kashmir sapphires.