A gem valued at least USD100m has been found in Sri Lanka and sold to an anonymous buyer who disclosed the process was “absolutely confidential” how much he paid for it.
A BBC report says the previous record holder weighed 1,395 carats.
Gemologists in Sri Lanka claim that the largest blue star sapphire yet has been discovered in a mine in the country.
The gemology institute in the capital Colombo has certified that the gem weighs 1404.49 carats and say they have not certified anything larger.
The gem is valued at at least $100m and the current owner estimates that it could sell for up to $175m at auction.
Sri Lanka’s gem industry, for which sapphire is the main export, is worth at least £70m ($103m) annually. Blue star sapphires are so named because of the distinctive mark found at their centre.
“The moment I saw it, I decided to buy,” the current owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the BBC World Service’s Newsday programme.
Sapphire is found in only a few locations in the world. The three most famous regions for blue sapphire are Kashmir, Burma and Sri Lanka. Sapphire has also been mined in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and India. As of 2007, Madagascar has been leading the world in sapphire production, though Sri Lanka continues to be the only steady producer of fine quality blue sapphire.
Sri Lanka and Madagascar produce sapphires in a wide range of colors and whilst Sri Lanka has been a known sapphire source for centuries, sapphire deposits in Madagascar were only recently discovered in 1998.
The enormous deposits found in the village of Ilakaka came as a big surprise and led to a gemstone fever reminiscent of the 19th century Californian gold rush.
Today, Madagascar and Tanzania are considered to be two of the most important sapphire sources. Australia is also known for significant sapphire deposits, though most Australian sapphire is known to form rather dark in color. In the USA, there are small sapphire deposits found throughout Montana and North Carolina.
Blue sapphires are the most popular and sought after type of sapphire. They have been the prized possessions of emperors, kings, queens and collectors for thousands of years. Still today it is the most well-known and in demand colored gemstone. Royalty give sapphires over diamonds as engagement rings because they are known to be far rarer than diamonds.