ECONOMYNEXT – A 2.5 million-carat star sapphire cluster found in Sri Lanka may fetch up to a billion US dollars in the collector market, far beyond carat value of the stone, an official said.
National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) Chairman Thilak Weerasinghe told EconomyNext on Wednesday (28) that experts at the authority have valued the 510kg cluster north of USD 100 million.
“Almost every gem we sell, we sell it after cutting and polishing, but this is a special stone. The world’s wealthiest will line up to buy it and we expect its value will exceed 1,000 million US dollars in the market,” he said.
The 100cm x 72cm x 50cm cluster, the world’s largest yet, was found eight months ago in a gem merchant’s backyard in Kahawatte, Pelmadulla, in the Ratnapura district, quite by accident, according to UK-based BBC. Ratnapura, which literally translates to ‘gem city’ is famous for its precious stones.
“We kept it from the spotlight for security reasons,” Weerasinghe told EconomyNext.
Named the Serendipity Sapphire, it is a cluster of star sapphire. Star sapphires are a type of mineral known as corundum.
According to Weerasinghe, the cluster belongs to the owner of the land where it was found while workers were digging a well.
“We knew this stone has a very high value. Some leading experts have also valued it high,” he said.
“So if any wealthy person wants to buy it, they will come and, according to the BBC, many have inquired about it already,” he added.
Unlike regular clusters, the Serendipity Sapphire will not be broken into smaller pieces and sold separately.
“For wealthy people, it’s more valuable to exhibit this rare cluster as part of their personal collection,” said Weerasinghe.
The gem &; jewellery chief said the authority has identified several deposits of similar gems and further planning is ongoing.
Gem expert Gamini Zoysa speaking to reporters on Tuesday (27) said the Serendipity Sapphire must have formed over 500 million years ago.
“These clusters were separated from the deposits and spread throughout the Ratnapura area as time passed,” said Zoysa.
“One carat of these star sapphires can be sold for around 1.5 million rupees in the international market easily,” he said, adding that such sales could help Sri Lanka settle some of its debt obligations.
A leading businessman in the gem and jewellery industry, Armil Sammoon told reporters on Tuesday the sapphire cluster is a trending gem stone in the international market place.
“This indicates that there are many other gem stones in the country and authorities should look for ways on how this can be used to develop our country,” Sammoon said. (Colombo/ July 28/2021)