Kashmir, Myanmar and Sri Lanka produce the best quality blue sapphire, although blue sapphire can be found in many locations around the world. Kashmir sapphires are often regarded by many as the finest sapphires in the world as they possess a discerning beauty with a velvet soft cornflower blue colouring, making them very appealing.
Kashmir’s reputation for sapphires rests on a very short mining period of only seven years during the late nineteenth century. A pocket of gem-quality blue sapphires was discovered near the village of Sunjam in the Zanskar mountain range of the Himalayas due to a landslide in 1881. Sporadic mining activity continued over the following seven years until it depleted in 1887. Since then only small amounts of Kashmir sapphires have been produced, and now there are only very small amounts in circulation across the world – increasing their rarity and value.
A Kashmir sapphire has a violet to pure blue hue and a moderately strong to vivid saturation, often with the colour being concentrated close to the crystal’s surface – a characteristic known as colour zoning. A skilled cutter will take into account the colour zoning when cutting the sapphire, ensuring the stone shows entirely blue when viewed face up.
Some of the most precious and expensive Kashmir sapphires have thousands of microscopic inclusions which diffuse the light and give the stone a velvety lustre.