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London Jewels / SAPPHIRE AND DIAMOND CLUSTER RING

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Lot 230
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SAPPHIRE AND DIAMOND CLUSTER RING
1 December 2022, 11:00 GMT
London, New Bond Street

£320,000 - £380,000

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SAPPHIRE AND DIAMOND CLUSTER RING

The cushion-shaped sapphire, weighing 5.493 carats, within a surround of similarly-shaped and old brilliant-cut diamonds, diamonds approximately 1.40 carats total, ring size L½

Footnotes

Accompanied by a report from SSEF stating that the sapphire is of Kashmir origin, with no indications of treatment. Report number 124017 dated 9th August 2022.

Accompanied by a report from AGL stating that the sapphire is of Kashmir origin with no indications of heat treatment. Report number 1126983 dated 17th October 2022.

Sapphires from Kashmir were first discovered in the late 1870s/early 1880s 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 says that the finest stones from this 30 to 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.

For further reading see, Hughes, R. W., "Ruby & Sapphire", RWH Publishing, 1997 and Ramsay, A. (with Sparkes, B.), "Bright Jewels of the Mine", 1934.

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