The Complete Guide to Buying Kashmir Sapphires February 20, 2020 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog
They are famous, expensive, and almost impossible to find. If you’ve ever dug deeper into the world of rare gems, you couldn’t have missed the Pride of Kashmir.
These velvet blue jewels are one of the rarest in the world. Wearing them emits an upper-class aura, and it’s a symbol of nobility and royalty.
For some, this illuminating jewel is a life-long obsession. The sheer thought of owning one would send a tingling sensation down their spine, and probably yours too if you’re reading this.
However, if you ever come across a chance to buy some Kashmir sapphires, you should be extremely careful. This gem is incredibly rare and pricey.
If the price is too good to be true, you’re probably not looking at the real thing.
Kashmir Sapphires: Back Story
A brief look into the history of these sapphires shall help you understand the value.
It all started in 1880 in the Kashmir region on the Indian subcontinent. A landslide atop the Himalayas revealed an unusual type of rocks under the usual layer of soil. These rocks were almost completely bare except for the occasional protruding blue stones.
It took the locals a good period of time to realize that the stones were actually sapphire. This caught the eye of the Maharajah (a regional ruler in India), who sent a regiment of guards to protect the mine, along with miners to dig out more of the sapphires.
1882 to 1887 marked an extremely productive period for the mind. Some of the gems were as large as 5×3”. The miners had to work in extreme conditions in the regional hot summer with little to no rest.
By the end of 1887, the mine had been exhausted. Hungry for more, the Maharajah sought the assistance of the British, who by then had ruled in India for more than a decade. And with the help of British geologists, they found a new mine in the valley below.
However, they quickly exhausted the other mine too. To this day, no other deposits have been found.
This means that all Kashmir sapphires in existence today came from two mines of the late 19th century.
As you can imagine, it’s extremely rare these days to come across a Kashmir sapphire, the reputation of which has reached near-mythical status.
But it’s not only their rarity that makes them so special.
What Makes Kashmir Sapphires so Expensive?
The value of Kashmir sapphires is increasing every day.
Recently, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that a near-9-carat Kashmir sapphire sold for $154,000 per carat. That’s the current world record, expected to go up in the following years.
It’s not only the rarity that makes Kashmir sapphires expensive but also the quality.
Kashmir sapphires command a high price because they contain a top-quality specimen. You may come across other blue sapphires, but only those from Kashmir have a distinctive tint.
Experts call it blue velvet – a dreamy cornflower blue that reflects light under all angles.
A peek through the magnifying glass would display thick silk-like inclusions throughout the gem. They are responsible for scattering the light. Therefore, even a small concentration of light will illuminate the entire structure of the jewel.
Some alternatives to the Kashmir sapphire include the Burmese and Ceylonese sapphires. These gems also have a blue hue, but they don’t come close to replicating the Kashmir’s precious structure.
On top of its texture and tint, the outsized demand has just increased the price further. Unless new mining deposits emerge in the near future, the prices are set to continue to rise.
All in all, Kashmir sapphires represent the crown of all sapphire gems. Mounting this gem on a ring, necklace, or earring will enchant you with an imposing, yet mysterious aura.
Guide to Choosing the Perfect Kashmir Sapphire
As already mentioned, you should be extremely careful when buying Kashmir sapphires. Just one carat of this magical gem can cost north of $150,000. Thus, you need to be sure of what you’re buying.
In some cases, the sellers may try to pass off other blue sapphires as Kashmir. Ceylonese sapphires can come close, but there’s a huge gap in price between them. If you’re buying from an unknown seller, it’s far more likely that you’ll get offered a lesser-quality sapphire at Kashmir prices.
To avoid these situations, you should pay attention to these key factors.
But first, and we can’t restate this enough, only buy Kashmir Sapphires from reputable sellers. Jewelry this valuable requires a lot of good faith. Only purchase your sapphire from a company that has a track record of trust.
Pure blue Kashmir sapphires come from the mines of Kashmir at the Zanskar mountain range of the Himalayas.
The first of these stones appeared in the Padar region of the Kashmir Valley. Up to this day, the government of Jammu and Kashmir invites mining companies to come and prospect for potential new deposits of Kashmir sapphires.
However, the deposits of the late 19th century remain the only known origin of these gems.
One thing is for certain, blue sapphires formed during the formation of igneous rocks from red-hot lava. During the extremely slow cooling process, crystals of minerals may form if they’re found in the lava. Should everything turn out just right with minimal disturbances, these exquisite stones would come into being.
Since there are lots of places on earth when lava could be found, it’s safe to say that there are more sapphires like this. However, as mentioned, not all blue sapphires turned out to be as perfect as Kashmir sapphires.
If you’re looking to buy a genuine Kashmir sapphire, you need a confirmation of the origin. And not just any confirmation either, you’ll want an official certificate of a reputable source confirming that it came from the Himalayan valley.
A shade of blue is a distinguishing feature of blue sapphires. You can encounter pale or intense blue sapphires, but they don’t hold the highest value.
Gemologists regard the azure blue sapphire as the rarest and most valuable. It contains a bright, pure tint of blue and a velvety texture. It’s the purest and the most prized of all Kashmir sapphires.
The royal blue Kashmir sapphire and the cornflower blue comes close. They’re a darker variant, but still highly sought-after.
That’s why the saturation plays a huge role in determining the value.
The least expensive Kashmir sapphires have subpar saturation such that they appear pale. Royal blue comes from strong saturation. However, the most desirable is the moderate to strong saturation that makes azure blue.
Additionally, you should always focus on the purity of the stone. There shouldn’t be overtones of any other color, especially purple and violet. Genuine Kashmir sapphires have an even blue color from top to bottom.
Here’s a chemistry fun fact: All Kashmir sapphires contain silk-like rutile needles. These titanium oxides (TiO2) internal needles reduce the gem’s transparency.
In return, there’s a beautiful velvety shine that’s exclusive to Kashmir sapphires.
At the same time, these inclusions allow light to travel evenly through the gem. Therefore, if you’re to shine a bit of light over the gem, it’s indicative of a genuine Kashmir sapphire if it lights up all sides.
However, too much of these tiny needles will reduce the gem clarity. That’s not to say that it will affect the price, as it’s usually a personal preference.
These thin inclusions are a great indicator of authenticity. If you don’t find these tiny needles (also known as internal silk) all over the core of the gem, it should raise your suspicion.
You’ll hardly find a perfectly symmetrical cut of blue Kashmir, and there are a couple of reasons for that.
First, jewelers often avoid decorative cuts to retain the carat of the gem. Kashmir sapphires would also require a great deal of patience and expertise to cut due to the tiny inclusions.
That’s why people have to trade off the size and the look when trying to buy a Kashmir sapphire. Those with unusual shapes are actually more expensive than the simple round stones.
Furthermore, those of any expert cuts (heart, marquise, pear-shaped, etc.) usually sell for a lot of money.
But it’s actually the intact gems – those that aren’t cut at all – that are the most expensive. In fact, the aforementioned record-breaking stone was an uncut gem.
Even a tiny mistake during cutting and polishing can hamper the sapphire’s original composition and texture.
Therefore, you should know that a cut Kashmir sapphire usually sells for a lower price. For example, if you want a heart-shaped blue Kashmir ring for your wedding ring, you may get lucky and find one at a bargain price. However, always look to buy from a trustworthy jeweler.
Now that you understand all the determining factors, let’s talk about the price range of these gems. However, it can still be difficult to determine a realistic price.
There isn’t a long trail of established prices for Kashmir sapphires due to their rarity. Most stones are already in the hands of collectors, investors, and jewelers. Therefore, sellers can set the price at liberty.
In any event, the lowest-quality Kashmir sapphires may go for $5,000 per carat. One carat is 200mg (0.2g) just like any other precious gems.
If the stone is of the highest quality, it will significantly increase the price per carat. That’s why the record-breaking blue sapphire went for $150,000 per carat (or 30 times the bottom basement price).
Think twice if a vendor offers you a Kashmir sapphire at a cheap price. Check its color, clarity, and cut. Get a copy of the gemologist certificate and verify it before you pull the trigger.
Where to Buy Them?
As said, it won’t be easy to find a proper Kashmir sapphire. You can’t just go into your local jewelry store and expect to find it. If you really want a Kashmir sapphire to make a statement on your wedding day, you’ll have to dig deeper.
There are some online jewelers that have a few, but before you buy such a precious item from the internet, there are a few things to consider.
- Store Reputation – The store needs to be trustworthy and reliable. You should research an online vendor before you even think of dealing with them.
- Image of the Sapphire – Request to see high-res images of the sapphire. Reliable online sellers will make available photographs that you can zoom in on. This is especially important for Kashmir sapphires, as it allows you to notice the silk-like inclusions and the reflective hue.
- Certificates – Crucially, a reliable online store will have an official document vouching for the authenticity of the gem. It should always come from an internationally recognized gemologist institution or laboratory. Most of them can confirm the geographic origin as well as the condition, shape, transparency, etc.
Always remember that it’s better to wait for the real thing than to let down your guard and end up with a fake.
The Epitome of Royalty
There’s no doubt that Kashmir sapphires are the real deal. Any piece of jewelry with at least one carat of this mystical bluestone can become the talk of your wedding.
However, obtaining one is easier said than done. Keep in mind that it’s an extremely rare specimen and don’t jump the gun. You should assess all possible angles before you decide to purchase one.
Always look for reliable vendors that can confirm the authenticity of the piece. Look for certificates of origin and authenticity issued by gemologist labs. On top of that, you must consider that some Kashmir sapphires are more expensive than others.
Shall we end with well-wishes of good fortune in your search for your private royal gem? Godspeed and good luck!
Are you looking for a Kashmir Sapphire? Tell us what you are looking for and your budget and we will tell you if we have anything available in our collection.