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History of Kashmir Sapphires

The most expensive and most mesmerizing sapphires from the Paddar Mountains continue to be unrivaled throughout the world. Although mining in the area ceased more than half a century ago, previously mined stones continue to be in the news about Kashmiri gems. David Atkinson and Rustam Kotavala, who visited the twin mines in 1981, offer a history of the find.

cashmere sapphire
Kashmir sapphire

Because outsiders were strictly forbidden from entering the Paddar region of Kashmir until 1979, Dr. Kothawala’s previous attempts to visit the sapphire deposits were rebuffed. In 1981, he invited Mr. Atkinson to join him in a new attempt to reach the mines. Prior to the authors’ visit in the summer of 1981, the last Westerner to view the site was R. W. Gaines in 1944.

In 1961, the government of Jammu and Kashmir conducted a detailed feasibility study of the mines, but the results of this study remain confidential. One of the reasons for the decline of interest in these mines worldwide is the scarcity of gemstones mined after 1908. Such a shortage would have doomed the area to oblivion long ago, were it not for the unique beauty of the few stones that are still found.

Similarly, the inaccessibility of the mines is brightened up only by the reverent beauty of their surroundings. Even 19th-century geologists felt compelled to devote entire paragraphs to describing wildflower carpets and majestic landscapes in their otherwise meager reports.

Few gemologists would argue that the beautiful Kashmiri stone has a character that sets it apart in a world relatively abundant in corundum gemstones. Over the years, the term cashmere has come to refer to the most coveted and expensive blue sapphires. The protracted territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over the state of Kashmir, as well as the ban on the private trade in Kashmir sapphires since the early 1880s, introduced by the Maharaja, have led to the fact that the extraction and trade of these stones is surrounded by an aura of secrecy and suspicion. Add to this the extreme cultural isolation of the local population, whose small villages are nestled in narrow valleys among mountains over 6,000 meters high, and you have all the necessary ingredients to create a legend comparable to Shangri-La.

The purpose of this article is to describe specific conditions related to this area. In it we will attempt to describe the major events that have taken place at this site in the 100 years since its discovery, review the limited literature on the subject, and provide some insight into the very limited but ongoing trade in Kashmiri sapphires today. In addition, a brief commentary is given on the geology of the area and a discussion of the gemological characteristics of the Kashmiri stones.

Possibly the most expensive cashmere sapphire brooch in the world.
Possibly the most expensive cashmere sapphire brooch in the world.


As early as 1882 (Mullett) and 1890 (La Touche) reports from government geologists to the Geological Survey of India agreed that the discovery of sapphires above the village of Sumjam, on the southwestern slopes of the Zanskar Range, was the result of a landslide that occurred sometime in 1881. . Small earthquakes and avalanches often occur in this geologically active region. From various letters and reports from missionaries and traders living in the area at the time, it is clear that the locals were aware of several different corundum deposits.

Interviews with villagers during the 1981 expedition confirmed that the opaque, greyish corundum crystals had been used as flints and rough abrasive tools from very early times. The discovery in 1881 of a concentrated accumulation of precious blue crystals caused enough excitement among the locals to initiate an exchange with itinerant traders from the neighboring Zanskar and Lahoul valleys. After crossing the Umasi-La Pass (5290 m) to reach Sumjam in the Paddar Valley, these traders were initially skeptical and had to be persuaded to exchange the nile (blue stone) for salt on a weight-for-weight basis. Eventually, these stones made their way to the major trading centers, usually in company with more traditional and humble minerals such as borax and salt. It was in the shopping centers of Kullu and Simla (the summer capital of India) that the crystals were positively identified and recognized for their true value. The news quickly spread. By the end of 1882, a syndicate of jewelers had paid the equivalent of $90,000 for a shipment of fine crystals.

From these reports, it can be concluded that the early mining of sapphires was successful.

By 1883, the Maharaja of Kashmir declared that the mines were his by right and made all private trading in stones a punishable offence. Not surprisingly, the local paddari, out of touch with state affairs, were deeply indignant at the deployment of the maharaja’s elite guard, the dogra, to the mine. These sentiments still persist in the valley, where the authors had the opportunity to talk with both local residents and the police stationed at the mines. Until 1887, various government officials were sent to the mine to oversee the collection of sapphire on behalf of the state and prevent rampant smuggling and raiding in this area, which later became known as the Old Mine.

Their efforts brought great wealth to the state and led to the creation of a fabulous collection of crystals and precious stones, stored in the state treasury. Having started just as stormily, mining slowed down while the initial supply of sapphire was mined.

In 1887, the Kashmir Durbar engaged the Deputy Superintendent of the Geological Survey of India, La Touche, to conduct the first detailed survey and assessment of the future potential of sapphire mining. La Touche’s results were presented in his landmark 1890 report. Since then, only one comprehensive study has been published. More recent studies by various government agencies after Indian independence in 1947 and up until the late 1970s remain confidential.

Based on La Touche’s recommendations, rough washing troughs were built using lumber.

However, his attempts to exploit the alluvial deposits already found at the base of the Old Mine yielded only one impressive stone, and the mine was abandoned for 16 years until the government leased it to private individuals.

The frequent change of tenants that followed showed that the combination of impossibly harsh mining conditions, constant raids by outsiders, and the lack of large crystals made mining less and less attractive. However, several interesting developments during this period indicated the future potential of the mines. La Touche reported finding loose blocks of corundum in a matrix on the northern slope behind the Old Mine, known as the “reverse slope”, but was unable to trace this material back to its source.

In addition, he suggested the existence of other alluvial deposits. So far, no success has been reported in finding these deposits. In 1906, C. M. Wright of the Kashmir Mining Company, a tenant of the mine, reworked an earlier alluvial deposit with some success before leaving the mines in 1908. As he left, he reported several new sapphire finds just a few hundred meters from the depleted Old Mine.

However, in his opinion, they did not matter much.

The failure of sporadic mining over the next decade to produce any interesting crystals seemed to confirm the view that the sapphire mines at Sumjam were definitively depleted. However, in 1924 the government commissioned a detailed mapping of the area, and several new sapphire outcrops were identified. In subsequent years, the second phase of production began at Novye Mine.

The results, while not as impressive as before, proved to be the most profitable for private operators – so much so that the government seems to have decided to take matters into its own hands again. In 1927, for “violations”, the private mining license was revoked and state mining laws were hastily revised. A government-controlled mining project that year produced the largest seasonal production in the area’s history. Proposals were made for the creation of a state cutting workshop, and the revival of the sapphire industry seemed inevitable. However, in 1928, an experimental batch of raw materials was cut in Delhi, and the results were analyzed. Of the more than 900 carats of finished stones, less than 20 pieces could be classified as stones of excellent quality, only two minerals were 6 carats and one 10 carats.

The new material was no match for the early stones. Tenders were therefore again accepted from private parties, and scant records indicate that before 1951 at least three different operators worked at the mine. Despite the large quantities of raw materials mined (over a million carats in 1949, when 50 workers were employed full-time during the season), only a small amount of “incomparable” sapphires was obtained. With the final weakening of the Maharaja’s political power in 1947, the last links between the Maharaja of Kashmir and the mines of Paddar broke off.

After 1947, the actual control of the mines is in the hands of the government of Jammu and Kashmir. Over the past 30 years, mining has been intermittent. In 1981, the mines were not operating, although at the time of this writing, negotiations are underway to lease the area for private projects.

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Karina Brez presents the Lucky Horseshoe Collection

Karina Brez presented her latest Lucky Horseshoe Collection, featuring necklaces, earrings and rings with a horseshoe talisman.

Mini Lucky Horseshoe Yellow Gold and Diamond Ring

Aiming to celebrate the “partnership between man and horse”, the Lucky Horseshoe collection combines high style and joy through a palette of classic brilliant white, pastel, colored enamel and traditional holiday hues.

The collection includes Mini Horseshoe Yellow Gold and Diamond Earrings, available in three gold colors: pink, yellow and white. The Mini Lucky Horseshoe Yellow Gold and Diamond Ring, crafted in 18k gold, is also available in pink, yellow or white.

Pendants Horseshoe Gold and Diamond

Gemologist and jewelry designer Karina Brez said of the innovative collection: “Horseshoes are a universal symbol of good luck dating back to the eighth century. Recreating them in a colorful piece of art was a must for my clients to have good luck on the road every day.” Every season you will see new styles as most of them are limited editions.”

“I wanted to add natural turquoise to the horseshoes, but due to the delicate nature of cutting turquoise, I decided to use enamel to bring out the most beautiful colors of turquoise in these pieces. After seeing how beautiful the enamel versions turned out, I continued to expand the enamel horseshoe collection by adding a white color option to it as well.”

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Hamilton & Inches Expands Popular Flora Collection

Hamilton & Inches Expands Popular Flora Collection

This week, the jewelry company Hamilton & Inches announced the release of a new Flora collection.

The original collection gained immense popularity after Catherine, Princess of Wales wore 18-karat yellow gold Flora Drop earrings on her 2021 tour of Scotland.

Hamilton & Inches brought a fresh twist to the original design.

All pieces were handcrafted in the workshop above the jewelery house’s newly refurbished showroom in the heart of Edinburgh by the Hamilton & Inches artisan team.

The collection draws its inspiration from the courtyard garden, which once stood on the same site as the current showroom, and is adorned with round diamond petals and delicate white and yellow gold leaves.

Featuring a 0.25 ct yellow gold Flora pendant on a thin chain with staples and a 0.61 ct white gold Flora Drop earrings, this versatile collection can brighten up an outfit for any occasion or be a statement piece for the bride.

Discussing the collection, Hamilton & Inches CEO Victoria Houghton said, “Our original Flora collection has allowed us to introduce a new generation to everything Hamilton & Inches has to offer. Since then, we have decided to return to this collection and create a new line, once again meticulously designed and crafted by our talented team of artisans. The collection’s timeless pieces provide style that lasts, adding a touch of luxury and elegance to any outfit.”

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Richemont sees a 24% increase in jewelry sales

Richemont sees 24% growth in jewelry sales in 2022

Richemont reported strong sales and profits for its jewelry business as sales rose 24% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2022.

The company, which owns brands such as Cartier and IWC Schaffhausen, earned almost 9.7 billion euros this half, compared to almost 7.8 billion euros last year. The company also reported an operating profit of 2.7 billion euros.

As a result, the company’s profit from continuing operations amounted to 2.1 billion euros.

However, the company’s overall performance was capped by a €2.7 billion expense from discontinued operations as a result of an agreement with Farfetch and Alabbar to sell a majority stake in Yoox Net-a-Porter.

Richemont also continued its sustainability efforts by reducing the energy consumption of boutiques and offices across Europe by 10%. The company believes it is on track to be 100% renewable by the end of 2025.

Johann Rupert, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said: Compared to the previous year, there was a double-digit increase in sales at the actual exchange rate across all businesses, channels and regions, with the exception of Asia-Pacific, where sales increased by 3%. Growth was led by the retail channel, which together with the online channel accounted for 73% of the group’s sales.

With overall sales growth of 24% and increased sales across all regions and distribution channels, our jewelery houses, Buccellati, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, confirmed their leading positions. To further support their active development, production sites are being expanded, operational teams are being strengthened, and communication initiatives are being strengthened.

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Pineapple Island launches eco-friendly Black Friday alternative

Pineapple Island launches eco-friendly alternative "black friday"

Jewelry brand Pineapple Island has launched Green Friday, a new initiative to empower consumers to make green choices this Black Friday.

Also supporting the cost-of-living crisis, the brand is offering discounts on all its products and climate-positive bookings that offset 100% of its carbon footprint.

Pineapple Island Founder Nathan Jones said: “If we all do our part by changing our daily habits and making sustainable purchases, supporting companies that care about their impact on the Earth, and championing the future we deserve, we can make a real difference in the world. On Black Friday weekend we offer 20% discount on all products and ship our orders
100% carbon neutral, but we don’t stop there. You can provide even more
impact by making your order “climate positive”.

He added: “This means that twice the amount of carbon will be offset, resulting in an even greater positive environmental impact. This way you can be confident and confident that when your Pineapple Island package arrives, you’ll get what you love and be proud to be making a small step towards big change in the world/actively reducing your carbon footprint.”

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Ernest Jones opens luxury showroom in Bluewater

Ernest Jones opens luxury showroom in Bluewater

The retail jewelry chain owned by Signet Jewelers has opened the doors of its new luxury showroom in Bluewater.

Shoppers can enjoy a drink or two while browsing Ernest Jones’ range of designer jewelry, diamonds and watches.

For the convenience of customers, the store also offers special appointment appointments.

Brands such as Gucci, Cartier, Tudor, Chanel, Longines, Vera Wang and Ralph Lauren are featured in the new luxury salon.

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The record for the sale of the most expensive diamond over the Internet has been broken

The buyer spoke to the press on condition of anonymity and confirmed that the main motive for him was value for money.

The buyer, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the main motive for him was value for money.

A new world record has been set for the most expensive online sale of a single diamond.

A 59-year-old US businessman purchased a 21.01-carat internally flawed diamond through the Rare Carat online marketplace for $2.5 million, completing the purchase without arranging an in-person inspection.

This sale topped the record set two years ago when the diamond was sold at auction for $2.1 million.

The previous record holder was a 28 carat VVS1 color diamond, the top lot at Christie’s Jewels Online auction held in June 2020.

After the purchase, the buyer negotiated an appraisal with gemologist Donald Palmieri, who said the circumstances of the sale were highly unusual.

“It’s a huge sale that usually happens in person,” Palmieri told the New York Post.

The buyer spoke to the press on condition of anonymity and confirmed that the main motive for him was value for money.

“I’m a guy who likes to know that I bought something at a bargain price and didn’t spend a lot of money,” he said.

The buyer estimates that he saved about $700,000 by purchasing online through Rare Carat.

Online jewelry sales have surged in recent years, helped in no small part by the pandemic. Online sales accounted for 25 percent of U.S. sales last year, up from 14 percent in 2015.

Recently published research by the De Beers Group shows that over 50 percent of online diamond jewelry purchases are made by first-time diamond jewelry buyers.

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Mappin & Webb presents the latest Luxury Collection

Mappin & Webb presents the latest Luxury Collection

Mappin and Webb has unveiled the second installment of its “Luxury Jewelry Collection”, a curated range of unique jewelry showcasing the finest gemstones in the highest carat weights and intricate designs.

This is the second part of the collection, which has more than 160 pieces.

It features cut diamond rings, drop earrings, white gold hoop earrings with diamond clusters, and cocktail rings set with diamonds.

The company said, “This latest release encourages customers to pair pieces, string tennis bracelets and express their individuality.” Tois et Mois rings explore an amazing mix of stone styles as engagement or luxury right hand rings that are the perfect introduction to the world of high jewelry.”

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Julia Lang’s VEERT collection raises the bar

In just two years, Julia Lang’s VEERT brand has captured the attention of fashion aficionados with its exquisite gold and pearl jewelry, which has appeared on Brad Pitt, The Weeknd, Steph Curry, Snoha Aalegre and many more. Now the creative consultant is expanding the VEERT catalog with a fifth collection.

Julia-Langs-VEERT necklace with colored pearls

The New York-based brand continues to focus on pearls and gold in its latest collection. This time freshwater pearls are presented in multicolor designs with shades of classic pearls, light green and dark green. Mother-of-pearl and shell products are presented in various versions: with 18 carat gold chains and 18 carat gold vermilion.

The highlight of the collection is a necklace made of white freshwater pearls, each element of which is encrusted with green zircon stones. It comes with a pair of earrings. The collection also includes a chain with a brand logo pendant. This pink and green chain has a retro look and is available in white and yellow gold.

Julia-Langs-VEERT unisex colored pearl necklace

“Luxury, sexless VEERT products are designed to seamlessly fit into the various aspects of the wearer’s life,” says Lang. “Whether for work or play, the red carpet, special events, or even your own catwalk, these rare pieces of jewelry are designed to enhance your aura and elevate your everyday experience.”

In the past, gemstones such as green onyx, malachite, peridot and others have been used in VEERT jewelry. So with this latest offering, the brand demonstrates its commitment to creating contemporary demi-fine and fine jewelry.

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