A real treasure both literally and metaphorically was auctioned in Monaco by Hotel des Ventes in its December big event this year for an impressive 1.11 million euros excluding fees. It was originally expected to fetch anything above 800.000 euros.
It is an antique sapphire signet ring adorned with no ordinary sapphire but one of 18.42 carats and of gorgeous colour belonging to a princely family since the 1930s. The region of Zaskar, in Indian Kashmir, is considered to produce some of the most beautiful gemstones in the world. At the beginning of 1880s a landslide in the Himalayan mountains revealed a source of sapphires at 4000 metres that has become legendary for the quality of its stones. This fame is due to their incomparable colour. They are silky-looking sapphires, of an intense blue with a hint of purple. The most sought-after tone is cornflower blue.
The sapphire being auctioned was accompanied by a Gübelin laboratory certificate attesting “a rich saturated and homogeneous colour, combined with great transparency and a perfectly proportioned size. In addition, this remarkable gem has been spared any heat treatment. Such features are rare in a Kashmir sapphire of this size”.
Entirely paved with diamonds and set with an 18.42 carats antique cushion-cut sapphire, the extraordinary jewel was valued by experts prior to going to auction at between 800,000 and 1.2 million euros.
The valuers on this occasion proved to be right on the money, the hammer going down at the higher end of their range.