Significant Ceylon/Sri Lanka Blue Sapphires that appeared at public auctions

  • This is a dedicated thread for significant Ceylon/Sri Lanka blue sapphires appearing at public auctions. The need to have separate threads for blue sapphires from the three main sources - Kashmir, Burma/Mogok and Ceylon/Sri Lanka was felt because of the large numbers of significant blue sapphires from these sources appearing at public auctions. It is hoped that this would generate more lively discussion about sapphires from the three main sources.

  • To give a start to this thread let us first include the impressive Ceylon/Sri Lanka blue sapphire, cushion-cut, with a saturated even blue color and extraordinary clarity, weighing 102.61 carats, the centerpiece of an "Impressive and Rare Sapphire and Diamond Necklace" that appeared at the Sotheby's Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels & Jadeite Spring Sale, held on April 7, 2014, and sold for US$ 4,203,118, the highest price achieved by a Sri Lanka blue sapphire at an auction, and the 3rd-highest price achieved by blue sapphire single stone at an auction.

  • A significant pair of blue Sapphires, both pear-cut and a blue color of medium-strong saturation, one a Burma sapphire weighing 10.206 carats with dimensions of 17.00 x 10.28 x 7.18 mm and the other a Ceylon sapphire weighing 8.628 carats with dimensions of 17.15 x 10.37 x 5.97 mm, set as the centerpiece of a pair of French sapphire and diamond cluster rings, surrounded by graduated circular brilliant-cut and marquise-shaped diamonds, set in yellow-gold, appeared at the recent Woolley & Wallis auctions held in Salisbury on May 1, 2014. A pre-sale estimate of £60,000 - £80,000 was placed on the lot, which was sold for exactly £60,000 equivalent to US$101,214.

  • Several Ceylon/Sri Lanka blue sapphires featured at the Sotheby's Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale held on November 13, 2013. These lots are Lot 55, Lot 184, Lot 187 and Lot 232
    Lot 55 - Sapphire and Diamond Ring by Faraone 1967 - is a cluster-ring set with a 10.22-carat, oval-cut, natural, unheated Ceylon blue sapphire as the centerpiece, surrounded by brilliant-cut marquise-shaped and pear-shaped diamonds. The lot with a pre-sale estimate of USD 20,709 - 30,518 was sold for USD 35,423.
    Lot 184 - Sapphire and Diamond Pendant - set with a 15.32-carat, oval-cut, natural, unheated Ceylon blue sapphire as the centerpiece of the pendant, surrounded by a layer of round brilliant-cut diamonds, and the surmount set with heart-shaped diamonds. A pre-sale estimate of US$ 20,709 - 31,608 was placed on the lot, but the lot sold for more than double the upper estimate for US$ 74,932.
    Lot 187 - Sapphire and Diamond Ring - set with a 22.99-carat, oval-cut, natural, unheated Ceylon blue sapphire, with epaulet-shaped diamond shoulders. A pre-sale estimate of US$ 45,777 - 67,575 was placed on the lot, which was sold above the upper-estimate for US$ 74,932
    Lot 232 - Set with a 13.61-carat, cushion-cut, natural, unheated Ceylon blue sapphire as the centerpiece of a ring with baguette diamond shoulders. A pre-sale estimate of US$ 65,395 - 81,744 was placed on the lot, which sold for US$ 92,643.

  • I just thought of computing the ppc values of the six Ceylon blue sapphires given above.


    1) 102.61 carats - USD 4,203,118 PPC - USD 40,962
    2) 18.8 carats - USD 101,214 PPC - USD 5,383
    3) 10.22 carat - USD 35,423 PPC - USD 3,466
    4) 15.32 carat - USD 74,932 PPC - USD 4,891
    5) 22.99 carat - USD 74,932 PPC - USD 3,259
    6) 13.61 carat - USD 92,643 PPC - USD 6,807
    While the average ppc of sapphires 2) to 6) is around USD 4,700, the ppc of sapphire No.1 is USD 40,962.
    What are the possible reasons for such a large disparity in the ppc values ?

  • A casual examination of the PPC values given by Yousuf indicates that the size of the blue sapphires might be related to the large disparity in ppc values. I may be subject to correction, but sapphire No.1 with an enormous weight of 102.61 carats selling for a staggering USD 4,203,118 is the cause of the disparity. In comparison, sapphires 2 to 6 with lesser weights sold for only around USD 100,000 or less.

  • Thanks Yousuf and rashid for your contribution. Rashid, your suggestion that the size of the blue sapphires might be related to the large disparity in ppc values between sapphire No.1 and the average ppc values of sapphires 2 to 6, is absolutely in order. Top-quality Sri Lanka blue sapphires fetch impressive prices only when the carat-weight of the stone exceeds 100 carats, as sapphire no.1, weighing 102.61 carats that sold for a staggering US$ 4,203,118, the highest price ever fetched by a Sri Lanka blue sapphire at an auction. Smaller Ceylon blue sapphires in the range of 10-25 carats as sapphires 2 to 6, fetch much lower prices in the range of US$ 100,000 or less, as prices recorded by these sapphires reveal.
    This is in total contrast to Kashmir blue sapphires, the highest quality blue sapphires in the world, and the standard against which blue sapphires from other sources are compared. Kashmir sapphires in general are smaller in size. Most of the Kashmir sapphires are less than 50 carats in weight. A Kashmir sapphire weighing around 50 carats is an extreme rarity. However, in spite of their smaller size, Kashmir sapphires command premium prices, such as the 19.88-carat, cushion-cut, "Star of Kashmir" sapphire that sold for a staggering US$ 3,484,102 at Christie's Geneva Sale on May 15, 2013 and the 21.42-carat, cushion-cut, Kashmir sapphire that sold for US$ 3,231,584 at Sotheby's Geneva Sale on November 13, 2013. Ceylon sapphires of comparative weight will not fetch more than US$ 100,000, whatever the quality of the sapphires might be. This is still related to market ranking based on origin, as reported by Richard Hughes in his book "Ruby & Sapphire."

  • The blue star sapphire weighing 510 carats of Sri Lankan origin, whose existence arihantsourcing has revealed, if true, is among the largest Sri Lanka blue star sapphires in the world. In the list of Famous Blue Star Sapphires Greater than 100 carats in Weight, there are 13 large blue star sapphires, of which 7 blue star sapphires are from Sri Lanka. These are :-

    1) Star of India - 563.35 carats - AMNH New York
    2) Un-named Blue Star Sapphire - 393 carats - NGJA, Sri Lanka
    3) Star of Artaban - 316 carats - NMNH Smithsonian
    4) Star of Lanka - 193.39 carats - Royal Ontario Museum, Canada
    5) Star of Bombay - 182 carats - NMNH Smithsonian
    6) Midnight Star Sapphire - 116.75 carats - AMNH New York
    7) Star of Ceylon - 101.01 carats - Private Collection, Seattle


    The 510-carat blue star sapphire, claimed to be of Sri Lankan origin by arihantsourcing, if correct is the second largest Sri Lanka Blue Star Sapphire in the world after the 563.35-carat "Star of India" which is the property of the AMNH New York. It is highly unlikely that an enormous blue star sapphire weighing 510 carats could have left the shores of Sri Lanka, without the discovery of its rough, whose weight must be at least over 700 carats, being reported.


    In any case if arihantsourcing can prove the Sri Lanka origin of the stone, with a country-of-origin report from a recognized gem-testing laboratory, the stone must be worth a fortune, given the fact that 393-carat, unnamed Blue Star Sapphire, owned by the National Gem and Jewelry Authority of Sri Lanka, which according to Richard Hughes is probably the finest large star sapphire in existence, was insured for £1 million equivalent to US$1.8 million, when the stone was exhibited for the first time in London, in 1981 at the Commonwealth Institute.


    The 510-carat Blue Star Sapphire, if it has a color, cut and distinctness of the star surpassing that of the 393-carat un-named Blue Star Sapphire owned by the NGJA, would be worth around US$ 2.4-2.5 million, going by the 1981 valuation, which works out to approximately US$ 5,000 per carat.


    However, given the fact that an exceptional Ceylon blue sapphire, with a perfect cushion-cut and saturated medium blue color weighing 102.61 carats sold for US$ 4,203,118 at the Sotheby's Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels & Jadeite Spring Sale, held on April 7, 2014, the highest price achieved by a Sri Lanka blue sapphire at an auction, working out to a price-per-carat value of US$ 40,962, we can safely predict that the 510-carat blue star sapphire if exceptional in all respects, would be worth more than double or treble the estimated value based on the 1981 valuation. Hence, this particular Ceylon blue star sapphire would be worth between US$ 5.0 -7.5 million, if its credentials are impeccable.

  • The best option to dispose of this enormous blue star sapphire of Ceylon origin weighing 510 carats, is to entrust the gem to one of the leading auction houses, such as Christie's or Sotheby's to be sold at one of their Magnificent Jewels Sale in Hong Kong, Geneva or New York. Going by the enhanced prices recorded by blue sapphires of Kashmir, Burma and Ceylon origin at these auctions, I am sure your blue sapphire would realize its full potential value at one of these auctions.
    Thanks and good luck !!!

  • A Ceylon sapphire ring designed by Graff, bearing Lot No. 596 and titled "Impressive Sapphire And Diamond Ring by Graff" appeared at Sotheby's Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels Sale held on May 14, 2013. An oval-cut, 28.21-carat, Ceylon blue sapphire was double claw-set on the ring designed by Graff, between triangular diamond shoulders. The lot was accompanied by SSEF report certifying the Ceylon origin of the stone with no evidence of heat enhancement. A pre-sale estimate of USD 225,000 - 330,000 was placed on the ring which sold slightly above the upper estimate for USD 344,309 equivalent to a price-per-carat value of USD 12,205.


    Another Ceylon Sapphire and Diamond Ring that appeared at the same Sotheby's Geneva Jewels Sale held on May 14, 2013, was Lot 622 titled "Sapphire And Diamond Ring" from an important private collection. The ring was set with a 30.52-carat, step-cut Ceylon blue sapphire, with a saturated, even medium rich blue color that may be graded as AAA, and a clarity grade of type1, meaning eye-clean with no visible inclusions. The blue sapphire is set between baguette diamond shoulders. The lot is accompanied by an SSEF reort certifying the Ceylon origin of the stone with no indications of heat enhancement. A pre-sale estimate of USD 88,000 - 141,000 was placed on the ring which eventually sold for USD 168,492. This works out to a price-per-carat value of USD 5,520.

  • I just can't believe that Sotheby's would have taken that position, unless their gemologists had examined the stone and advised them that there is no market for such a stone. If your stone has a rich deep-blue color characteristic of many top-grade Ceylon sapphires, and has a perfect cabochon-cut, and very distinct centrally located six-rayed star, given the enormous size of the stone, its amazing that if someone says there is no market for such a stone. I am sure the GGL certificate specifies the natural status of the stone, its characteristics, country-of-origin as well as the fact that there is no evidence of heat enhancement. If your stone meets all these conditions it is without any doubt a valuable collectors item, and no auction house would refuse to put it for auction.


    I suggest you try other auction houses such as Christie's, Bonhams and Woolley & Wallis. In any case I would like to see an image of your Blue Star Sapphire, before I could give you further suggestions for its disposal.

  • Incorporating the two Ceylon blue sapphires highlighted by Sunil, in the list prepared by Yousuf and re-arranging the diamonds in descending order of whole stone prices, we have the following revised list :-


    List of Ceylon blue sapphires that appeared at public auctions arranged in descending order of whole stone prices


    1) 102.61-carat, cushion-cut Ceylon blue sapphire - USD 4,203,118
    2) 28.21-carat, oval-cut Ceylon blue sapphire -USD 344,309
    3) 30.52-carat, rectangular step-cut Ceylon blue sapphire - USD 168,492
    4) 10.206-carat and 8.628-carat pear-shaped Ceylon blue sapphires, set as centerpiece of pair of sapphire and diamond cluster rings - USD 101,214
    5) 13.61-carat, cushion-cut, Ceylon blue sapphire -USD 92,643
    6) 15.32-carat, oval-cut, Ceylon blue sapphire - USD 74,932
    7) 22.99-carat, oval-cut Ceylon blue sapphire - USD 74,932
    8) 10.22-carat, oval-cut, Ceylon blue sapphire - USD 35,423


    The same list as above arranged in descending order of price-per-carat (ppc) value is as follows :-


    1) 102.61-carat, cushion-cut Ceylon blue sapphire - ppc value USD 40,962
    2) 28.21-carat, oval-cut Ceylon blue sapphire - ppc value USD 12,205
    3) 13.61-carat, cushion-cut, Ceylon blue sapphire - ppc value 6,807
    4) 30.52-carat, rectangular step-cut Ceylon blue sapphire - ppc value USD 5,520
    5) 18.8 carats - USD 101,214 PPC - ppc value USD 5,383
    6) 15.32 carat - USD 74,932 PPC - ppc value USD 4,891
    7) 10.22 carat - USD 35,423 PPC - ppc value USD 3,466
    8) 22.99 carat - USD 74,932 PPC - ppc value USD 3,259

  • The two Ceylon blue sapphires highlighted by Sunil appeared at Sotheby's Geneva on May 14, 2013 at their Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels Sale. At this same auctions a noble jewel believed to have been once in the possession of Joséphine de Beauharnais (b.1763-d.1814), first wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, appeared as Lot 624 and performed impressively by selling much above the estimated range of USD 198,841 - 298,262 for USD 545,243. (PPC-value USD 12,600)


    The centerpiece of this jewel, titled an "Impressive Sapphire and Diamond Pendant/Brooch of 19th-century origin" is a 43.27-carat, pear-shaped sapphire either of Burmese or Ceylon origin. The ambiguity regarding the country-of-origin of the sapphire was caused by conflicting lab reports issued by three different labs, GGL, SSEF and Gem Tech. The GGL report certified that the sapphire is of Burmese origin, with no indications of heating. On the contrary, the SSEF and Gem Tech lab reports certified that the sapphire is of Ceylon origin with no indications of heating. However, since two recognized labs have concurred on the Ceylon origin of the sapphire, it is accepted that the sapphire is of Ceylon origin.


    The central sapphire is set within a frame of pinched collet-set, Old-European cut cushion-shaped and round-shaped brilliants and suspended from a detachable surmount of bow design, embellished with similarly cut diamonds.

  • At the Sotheby's Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels & Jadeite Sale held in April 2013, at least four Sri Lanka blue sapphire lots featured. These are Lots 1560, 1622, 1779 and 1796.


    Lot 1560 - A Sapphire And Diamond Ring - was set with a 12.00-carat, cushion-shaped, Ceylon blue sapphire as centerpiece, surrounded by an inner row of brilliant-cut diamonds and an outer row of tapered baguette-cut diamonds, together weighing 1.40 carats and mounted in platinum. A GRS report accompanying the lot certified the natural Sri Lanka origin of the stone, but showed evidence of heat treatment. A pre-sale estimate of USD 10,306 - 15,458 was placed on the lot, which sold for almost double the upper estimate for USD 30,595. PPC value of the stone works out to USD 2,550.


    Lot 1622 - also A Sapphire and Diamond RIng - was set with a 29.30-carat, circular-cut Ceylon blue sapphire, on a platinum mount decorated with small circular-cut diamonds, extending to the shoulders and hoop of the ring. AGL report accompanying the lot certified the natural Ceylon origin of the stone, with no evidence of heat treatment. A pre-sale estimate of USD 83,733 - 96,615 was placed on the lot, which sold above the upper estimate for USD 104,667, working out to a ppc-value of USD 3,572.


    Lot 1779 - was a Pair of Sapphire and Diamond Pendant Earrings - The centerpiece of each pendant earring, was a cushion-shaped Ceylon sapphire, weighing 8.90 carats and 7.86 carats, surrounded by a row of 8 pear-shaped diamonds and another pear-shaped diamond, the largest in the earring, suspended from below, surmounted by a circular-cut diamond; the whole arrangement being suspended from an elongated inverted cone-shaped structure, also set with circular-cut diamonds, that is fixed to the lobe of the ear by a post earring arrangement. . A pre-sale estimate of USD 70,851 - 83,733 was placed on the lot which sold slightly above the upper estimate for USD 88,564 working out to a ppc-value of USD 5,284.


    Lot 1796 - was a Sapphire and Diamond Ring designed by Cartier - The platinum ring was set with a 13.28-carat, cushion-shaped Ceylon sapphire as its centerpiece, flanked on each side by a shield-shaped diamond. An SSEF report certified the Sri Lanka origin of the stone, with no indications of heating. The lot sold within the pre-sale estimate of USD 154,584 - 206,112 for USD 190,654 working out to a ppc-value of USD 14,356.

  • Thanks Mike for your update. Image of Lot 1560 was of special interest. This is the first time I am seeing an image of a heat treated blue sapphire. The treatment seems to have done justification to the hue and tone of the blue color of the sapphire, but on the contrary has had a devastating effect of the ppc-value of the stone, which has plunged to absurdly low levels after the detection of the treatment !!!