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Stone Talk From Kashmir to Mogok, Location is the Key
Information and the ability to analyse correctly is the key and something that the GIA has been working on.
By: Diamond World News Service
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Jan 13 2011 5:21PM
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Reference: 5649  

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Kashmir Sapphire
Kashmir Sapphire
While gemstones found in some locales are often valued more than others, due to the reputation for the quality of goods from that source, it is not always easy to identify the precise origin of all stones. Information and the ability to analyse correctly is the key and something that the GIA has been workingon, but it is a work in progress.* |

Exactly 120 years ago, a small landslide in a high mountain pass in the Paddar area west of Srinagar, India, revealed one of the most legendary gemstone deposits ever discovered. Even today, the velvety rich blue of Kashmir sapphire remains the standard by which all other sapphires are judged.

Eastward, more than 1500 kilometres across the Himalayas, the hills of the Mogok region of Burma (now Myanmar) were a source of some of the world’s finest rubies for nearly a millennium.

Today, sapphires from Kashmir still bring astounding prices at auction even though the Kashmiri mines have been depleted for nearly a century. Likewise, Mogok ruby commands extreme premiums in the marketplace because of its distinctive “pigeon blood” colour.

Ask gem dealers and connoisseurs about these stones and many will say “we know them when we see them,” but few have any clue as to why these stones have distinct appearances.

In recent years, as new sources for sapphire and ruby have been discovered, country or locale of origin has become a very important factor in determining value – some locales are more highly valued than others, even among stones of similar appearance. Thus, “we know them when we see them,” is no longer an adequate identifier when thousands of dollars may be at stake because dealers, over the years, have routinely mixed similar-looking material into parcels from high-value locales to take advantage of the price premium.

It was always difficult to determine country-of-origin of corundum, however, because of the extremely subtle differences in chemistry and crystal growth that distinguish stones from different areas or even stones from the same general area. For example, only a minority of Kashmir sapphires display that distinctive velvety blue appearance, while, occasionally, sapphire from other locales might. And through the 1980s, the best rubies from Afghanistan and Pakistan were sold as Burmese. The advent of prolific heat treatments in the 1980s further complicated matters because they changed the colours and altered distinctive inclusions in both sapphire and ruby.

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