AUCTION’S FOCUS : A sapphire from Kashmir

We have seen a surge in auction prices since the early 2000’s. The records achieved by the coloured diamonds are the most publicised, but others categories of gemstones have seen tremendous growth in prices.

Let’s look at the Kashmir sapphire. In 2002, the average price per carat of the largest sales was $30,000. It rose to over $243,000 in October 2015 with the Jewel of Kashmir, a stone of 27.68 cts. Over the period, there has been growth of about 15% per year, making it probably one of the most interesting investment products in the world.

Kashmir is the most popular source for sapphires. For over 100 years, most large stones have been mined here, from primary deposits located between 4000 and 5000 meters in altitude.

Its incomparable blue colour is such that it gave birth to a category of blue, Kashmir blue. The secondary hue, turquoise, (in contrast to the grey of the Ceylon sapphire for example) gives its particular hue, a deep and intense blue.

The velvety and silky crystal is also unique, with the density and homogeneity of a remarkable material.

At a gemological level, pargasite crystals allow us to identify them, as is the rare presence of rutile needles (in contrast to the Burmese sapphire for example) which makes impossible to have a Kashmir star sapphire. Kashmir sapphires are not heated usually, even if few have tried the experiment.

Finally, there is a typical cut, it serves to minimise the velvety aspect. Cushion-shaped, 4-step pavilion with 8 facets on each step as an emerald cut and ends with a culet.

Nevertheless, we must remain vigilant because not all Kashmir sapphires are equal, both in quality of colour and of crystal. If you want to buy a Kashmir sapphire, pay attention to the certificate. For a stone such as this, one is not enough. The Jewel of Kashmir sold for over $243,000 per carat according to three of the most reputable companies in the world.

So if you are considering investing in a Kashmir sapphire, take advice from an expert.

The marvellous jewel of Kashmir
Credit: Sotheby’s