A sapphire single-stone ring
Lot 121
A sapphire single-stone ring
Sold for £1,385,000 (US$ 1,849,082) inc. premium

Fine Jewellery

4 Dec 2016, 10:30 GMT

London, New Bond Street

Lot Details
A sapphire single-stone ring A sapphire single-stone ring A sapphire single-stone ring A sapphire single-stone ring A sapphire single-stone ring A sapphire single-stone ring
A sapphire single-stone ring
The cushion-shaped sapphire, weighing 14.13 carats, within a double four-claw setting, ring size M½

Footnotes

  • Accompanied by a report from AGL stating that the sapphire is of Kashmir origin, with no indications of heating. Report number CS 1079419, dated 24 October 2016.

    Accompanied by a report from SSEF. Please contact the Jewellery Department for further details.

    Accompanied by a report from GCS stating that the sapphire is of Kashmir origin, with no indications of heating. Report number 5776-6623, dated 5 August 2016.

    Provenance
    This sapphire has been in the vendor's family for at over 100 years. It was acquired by the vendor's grandfather during his travels in Asia in the early 20th century.

    "In India my eyes have been dazzled by such jewels as never have been seen by the Western world."

    Sapphires hailing from Kashmir display a vivid velvety blue hue that is unique to the region. They are among the most highly-prized gems due to their rarity and their scarcity; while there are still superfine sapphires to be found in Burma and Sri Lanka, no mining activity has taken place in Kashmir for many decades and the mine that yielded the finest specimens was largely exhausted by 1887, after only six years of production.

    Kashmir sapphires were first discovered in the late 1870s/early1880s high up in the snow-clad Great Himalayas of north-western India where a landslide revealed hitherto unknown deposits in a rock valley 4500m above sea level. By 1882 the Maharaja of Kashmir had taken control of the mine that could only be worked from July-September each year due to the high altitude and near perpetual heavy snowfall. Because of its remote location mining techniques were always primitive. This first mine, known as the Old Mine, was really just a series of shallow pits sunk into the rock. Apparently, the first specimens were so huge and abundant, they were studded in places as thick as "plums in a pudding" and could be plucked from the rock. By 1887 the Old Mine was nearly exhausted and a New Mine, on the valley floor 250m below, gave up some fine sapphires but they were generally of lesser quality, size and quantity. The area was worked sporadically until the late 1920s/early 1930s but the glory years of the 1880s were never repeated. Legend tells that the finest stones from this 30-40 year period were all acquired by the Maharaja and jealously guarded in the chambers of the Kashmir State Treasury. British geologist, Charles Stewart Middlemiss, Superintendent of the Mineral Survey of Jammu and Kashmir State from 1917 until 1930, recorded seeing some of this fabled hoard, describing the sacks of rough and cut gems as a "king's ransom", with some sapphires the size of polo balls.

    Today, Kashmir sapphires set the standard against which all other sapphires are measured and are avidly sought by collectors who are prepared to pay princely sums for top-quality specimens from this extraordinary period in the history of gemmology.

Saleroom notices

  • This lot is also accompanied by a report from SSEF stating that the sapphire is of Kashmir origin, with no indications of heating. It is also accompanied by an appendix letter from SSEF stating that it is an "Exceptional Sapphire".
Activities
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  1. Emily Barber
    Specialist - Jewellery
    Bonhams
    Work
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    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
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