Locals Digging a Well Accidentally Discover a $140 Million Star Sapphire Weighing Half a Ton
It’s hard work being a farmer, that is until you pull a half-ton sapphire out of the ground while digging a well… Then it’s pretty incredible being a farmer.
A boulder containing a cluster of 2.5 million carats in star sapphires was unearthed by workmen digging a well on the island of Sri Lanka, a country which, like a diamond, belittles its size in terms of richness.
Colored pale blue, the find has been given the name the ‘Serendipity Sapphire’, and could be worth $140 million on the international market, pending inspections and certification by world experts.
“The person who was digging the well alerted us about some rare stones. Later we stumbled upon this huge specimen,” Mr. Gamage, the owner of the stone, told the BBC.
Gamage, who kept most information confidential for obvious reasons, explained that while cleaning the stone of mud and dirt, some star sapphires of “high quality” became dislodged, suggesting that like the famous Bahia Emerald, this enormous half-ton stone isn’t a single structure, but likely hundreds of star sapphires connected together with other minerals.
City of Gems
In a country blessed with beautiful beaches, rich wildlife, tons of elephants, and as the story goes, the mountain from which the Buddha of this eon ascended to Buddhahood, the gemstone trade on Sri Lanka is one of the most important on Earth.
The island nation, no bigger than West Virginia, is the world’s leading exporter of sapphires and other precious stones, which generated half a billion in revenue last year as one of the five biggest gem producers.
The Serendipity Sapphire was mined in the area of Ratnapura, a traditional gem mining region famous for producing star sapphires, like the last one that was considered the largest ever, The Star of Adam, weighing 1404 carets.
Ratnapura means “City of Gems” in Sinhalese, and even as competitive markets for sapphires open up in Madagascar, Ratnapura remains a world capital in the gem trade.
“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,” Thilak Weerasinghe, the Chairman of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority of Sri Lanka, told the BBC.
Star sapphires contain a gemological feature known as an asterism. Asterisms in gems occur when small flakes or spines of other material becomes trapped in the gemstone as it forms, creating an effect when receiving light from above of a shining six-pointed star. The most famous is the Star of India, currently held in the American Museum of Natural History.
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