Kashmir - the Himalayas are in the background
Sapphires have been mined all over the world and each location
produces characteristically different colors and qualities of sapphires.
The locations include Kashmir, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Madagascar,
Thailand, Cambodia, and Montana. Determining a sapphire’s exact origin
can require sophisticated testing and a sapphire’s pedigree plays an
important role in its value.
This post will focus on the most famous sapphire location, Kashmir.
Kashmir is located high up in the Himalayan mountains in the disputed
border area between India and Pakistan. The climate is exceptionally
harsh and geographically inaccessible most of the time.
That coupled with a politically unstable environment just about
prevents all mining there today. The heyday of mining in Kashmir
occurred from 1881 to 1887. A landslide in 1881 exposed a deposit of gem
quality blue sapphires at an elevation of nearly 15,000 ft. Mining
techniques at that time were quite primitive as you can imagine. Only a
very small quantity of rough was recovered and since the area is
relatively inaccessible for reasons already mentioned, there has been
little output since then.
The velvety appearance is caused by the scattering of light from silk-like minute inclusions.
Many people consider Kashmir sapphires to be the finest in the world
and the benchmark by which all other sapphires are judged. The finest
gems have a vivid royal blue color with a velvety appearance which is
caused by the scattering of light from minute inclusions.
Of course, the quality of all gems mined from Kashmir are not this
fine quality with many stones having strong color zoning or color being
confined to certain areas of the crystals. Kashmir sapphires are
extremely rare and if the origin can be proven, these sapphires would
normally sell from thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars per