World’s largest star sapphire cluster found in gem rich area in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan authorities say the world’s largest star sapphire cluster has been found in a backyard – by accident, according to a report on BBC.
A gem trader has reportedly said the stone was found by workmen digging a well in his home in the gem-rich Ratnapura area.
Experts have been quoted as saying in the BBC news report that the stone, which is pale blue in colour, has an estimated value of up to US$ 100 million in the international market.
The cluster weighs around 510 kilograms or 2.5 million carats and has been named the ‘Serendipity Sapphire.’
“The person who was digging the well alerted us about some rare stones. Later we stumbled upon this huge specimen,” Gamage, the owner of the stone, has told the BBC.
He has not wanted to give his full name or location for security reasons.
Gamage, who is a third-generation gem trader, has informed authorities about the find, but it took more than a year to clean the stone of mud and other impurities before they could analyse and certify it.
During the cleaning process, Gamage has said some stones fell out of the cluster and they were found to be high-quality star sapphires.
Ratnapura, which means city of gems in Sinhalese, is known as the gem capital of the South Asian country and other valuable stones have been found there in the past.
Sri Lanka is a leading exporter of sapphires and other precious gems.
Last year, the country earned around half a billion dollars through the export of gems, cut diamonds and jewellery.
“I have never seen such a large specimen before. This was probably formed around 400 million years ago,” Dr. Gamini Zoysa, a renowned gemmologist, has told the BBC.
Experts have also pointed out however, that even though the specimen has a high carat value, all the stones inside the cluster may not be high-quality.
“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, has said.
Sri Lanka’s gem and jewellery exports are high revenue generators in the country. Gems from Sri Lanka have even adorned jewellery of the royals. Given that Sri Lanka is fast becoming a business hub in the South Asian region given its geographical positioning in the Indian ocean and the many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country, Sri Lanka’s gem and jewellery sectors are also undergoing an expansion. Local authorities are also focused on further strengthening the gem and jewellery industry. Foreign businesses/investors could therefore explore business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s gem and jewellery industry.
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