Style / Jewellery

The “Queen of Asia” is One of the World’s Rarest Sapphire Stone

The 2.5 million carats gemstone is worth US$100 million according to experts.

Dec 16, 2021 | By Joseph Low
queen of asia sapphire
Image: Eranga Jayawardena

A 683-pound blue sapphire was found in a gem pit in the same city in September but was only unveiled by the owners last Sunday (December 12). The massive gemstone has been named, the “Queen of Asia”.

Sri Lanka’s National Gem and Jewellery Authority carried out a series of tests on five samples taken from the rock and concluded that it is one of the rarest gems in the world, according to the Associated Press.

queen of asia sapphire
Image: Eranga Jayawardena

Shanka Ruwanditha, a director of the Gemological Institute of Ratnapura, which currently owns the massive stone, told the Associated Press that the institute plans to recruit a gem valuer soon to determine the price of the rock.

Right before this discovery, the world’s largest sapphire cluster was found hidden in a man’s backyard in Ratnapura and experts are saying it could be worth US$100 million. The rare specimen weighs approximately 510 kilograms or 2.5 million carats and has been dubbed “Serendipity Sapphire”.  

sapphire stone
Image: Jonny Lew / Pexels

The lucky gent who stumbled upon this cluster told the BBC that one of the workers digging a well alerted him about some rare stones. Gamage, the proud owner of the gemstone, is a third-generation gem trader. The location of Ratnapura, which in Sinhalese means “City of Gems”, is widely known to be the gem capital of Sri Lanka

Over a year was taken to thoroughly rid the gemstone cluster of mud and other impurities before it could be appraised. Dr Gamini Zoysa, a renowned gemmologist remarked saying, “I have never seen such a large specimen before. This was probably formed around 400 million years ago.”

While the stone awaits certification, experts in the field have reservations about the quality of all the gemstones within the cluster. Some of the fall outs were graded to be high-quality star sapphires, the same cannot be said for the gigantic half-ton cluster — but insiders are hopeful.

Sri Lanka has always been the frontrunner in supplying precious gems and because of the current pandemic, revenue from exporting these gems have plummeted. The new discovery hopes to reignite the interests of private collectors and museums across the world. 

Sri Lanka Gem Export Data from 2011 to 2021
Image: Sri Lanka Export Development Board

The jewellery industry as a whole has suffered weakened sales due to shifting priorities towards essential spendings. The cutback in disposable income caused many brands to report weak growth last year.

However, the unearthing of the third-largest diamond earlier this year and this largest sapphire are paving the way for a change in trajectory for the industry. Consumers are starting to return and this is registered across the half-year financial reports by various luxury groups like Kering and LVMH. Both have exceeded expectations with Kering declaring a growth of 54.1 per cent when compared to the same period last year and 8.4 per cent in 2019; while LVMH grew 53 per cent when compared to 2020 and 11 per cent in 2019.

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