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The Kashmir mines are now mostly exhausted. Where can we still find such exceptional stones today?
From time to time, rare Kashmir sapphires find their way to the international market. Two such cases, exquisite Kashmir sapphires set in magnificent jewelry pieces, recently came to the fore. They were auctioned in Sotheby’s New York in October 1996 and in Phillips Geneva in November 1996. It may be that these two pieces will eventually become historical references.
Sotheby’s Auction, October 22,1996, New York Exquisite Sapphire and Diamond Necklace, Late 19th Century
The History of the necklace goes back to 1894. Changes in ownership brought a remodeling of the necklace.
The necklace is set with 23 sapphires weighing approximately 143.45 carats, 20cushion-shaped diamond weighing approximately 17 carats, 370 old-mine diamonds weighing approximately 27 carats, and is mounted in platinum.
A study of the pieces revealed that 15 of the largest sapphires have typical inclusion properties found in Kashmir sapphires; these include clouds of fine whitish particles, zones of delicate whitish particles and comet-tail like inclusions. The stones are of a velvety blue color. Eight of the smallest sapphires do not have these properties and have characteristics suggesting origins in Cambodia or other sapphires associated with volcanic rocks. No indications of thermal treatment were found in the Kashmir sapphires.
Each of the 15 Kashmir sapphires weighing between 5.03 to 14.75 carats may be considered rarities. Such a collection of high quality Kashmir sapphires which are similar in shape (slightly graduated row) and set in one-jewelry pieces is rarely found.
Phillips Auction, November 18,1996, Geneva
A Fine and Extremely Rare Sapphire and Diamond Bracelet.
This piece is mounted with a channel of 25 exceptionally well match cushion-shaped, mixed cut Kashmir sapphires, with a total
Rare sapphire and diamond bracelet auctioned a Phillips for US$1,170,000
(pic: courtesy of Phillips)
Above: The stones’ inclusions as seen under he microscope (Pic: A, Peretti).
Weight of 66.66 carats (each sapphire weighhing between two and three carats. The bracelet is flanked on either side by brilliant-cut diamond. The color may be described as intense blue, with a velvety, soft and warm appearance, which tends to improve under artificial light. The sapphires show all the typical characteristics of Kashmir sapphires, which were mined, in the 19th century and the turn of the 20th century told mine-type material; the stones do not have obvious inclusions. No indications of thermal treatment were found. The stones ate of a natural color.
The most striking aspect of the piece is the perfect matching of the individual sapphires with respect (cushion) and color (cornflower blue) and fine clarity.
The piece was auctioned at approximately US$ 1,170,000
Dr. A. Peretti, whose Swiss-based Company GRS GemResearch Laboratory specializes in gemological research, regularly attends the most important auctions for colored stones and provides gemological analyses of them.