One of the largest corundum (naturally occurring) sapphires was recently unveiled in Sri Lanka’s Ratnapura region. Recognised as the gem capital of the South Asian country, Ratnapura has earned its name as the leading exporter of precious stones and gems. In the last year itself, the country’s jewellery market earned around half a billion dollars through the export of diamonds, sapphires and other precious gems.
The city recently was the site of discovery of an enormous corundum blue sapphire that was found in a gem pit about three months ago. Weighing more than 300kg, the sapphire has received the title of the “Queen of Asia” and was put on display at the home of one of the gem pit owners in Horana, 45 km (28 miles) south of Colombo.
Although the massive stone was found three months ago, it underwent a series of gemological tests that were conducted by Sri Lanka’s National Gem and Jewelry Authority. Five samples were taken from the rock for the test, post which was declared as one of the rarest gems in the world.
“I have never seen such a large specimen before. This was probably formed around 400 million years ago,” said renowned gemmologist Gamini Zoysa.
Meanwhile, Thilak Weerasinghe, the Chairman of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority of Sri Lanka said, “It is a special star sapphire specimen, probably the biggest in the world. Given the size and its value, we think it will interest private collectors or museums.”
The president of the Gemological Institute of Ratnapura, Chamila Suranga told Forbes that the Queen of Asia could be worth more than $100 million. Suranga also confirmed the institute is targeting potential buyers including museums and wealthy private collectors in the Middle East.