Few gemstones are as highly regarded as Kashmir sapphires!  Originally, they were discovered in a glacial valley in the Zanskar range, and most were smuggled out of Kashmir to places where they could be cut and sold to wealthy Europeans and Americans.   Therefore, it has always been hard to find rough specimens of this material.  
       Ed Cleveland, an American stone dealer involved in charitable work in Kashmir, spends some of his time in local villages seeking out old stones that were never in the market.  He has found quite a few crystals and fragments from the earliest "artisanal" finds, and we assist him with sales while he "on the other side".  The specimens below are in our collection, and we have others that can be purchased.  As time allows, we will offer a few on the "Earth Treasures" page.  You may email me at wheierman@corunduminium.com or contact Ed directly through his website, info@kashmirblue.com.  Whatever profit we make from sales of these stones goes back to Ed and to his charitable programs.  It is enough that we were able to obtain several fine examples of these historic crystals for our research and displays.  

     Kashmir sapphire crystals tend to be bipyramidal, with twins and clusters not unusual.   The stones on the left are from various lots obtained several years ago.  Those on the right are some of the earliest found by the locals, recently sent to us for research y Ed Cleveland.  Note the white kaolin attached to many of them.  Unlike many Kashmir specimens which can be quite dark and opaque, these are gems!  They are now part of our collection.

       Quite often the blue color is confined to the outer rind, with the interior body color being white.  This makes some hard to facet, if the desire is to preserve the velvety "Kashmir blue" color.  Experiments are being conducted to see of heat treating these "white center" stones can produce uniformly blue ones (I am doubtful, because of their chemistry).  When the stones are "silky" due to exsolved rutile, treatment can result in much improved clarity and body color.  The ones below are superb examples of this type.  
       Two huge pale to medium blue Kashmir sapphires arrived from Ed today, and they are the finest gem rough from the locality any of us have seen .   The smaller one weighs more than 60 carats, and the larger weighs over 120 carats. 


     The bigger one was cut, and the smaller one is now ours.   I wonder what it will look like cleaned up!!     Here are some slightly different views of both crystals.


New Kashmir thumbnails

Click on them for high resolution images.



       There are actually two "Kashmirs".  The classic locality is in "Occupied Kashmir".  Around 1990, Rashid Malik, head of the Azad Kashmir Minerals and Industrial Development Commission (AKMIDC), found rubies embedded in boulders while hiking in the Shonthar Valley of "Free Kashmir" (or "Azad Kashmir").  These led to his discovery of lode sources in the hillside above, and the Nangi Mali (Naked Mountain) hard rock mine was developed to extract them.    In 1995, I participated in an expedition to the mine, hosted by my friend Rashid.    
       During our first day of explorations, I found a fine specimen; but as it was the property of the AKMIDC I put it into a locked box designed for the gems that the miners recovered (it was jokingly said that the box was ringed by security guards, watching each other from behind).  The next day, we were told we could keep what we found, but it was too late for the big one.   
     I did find a few tiny ones in calcite (far left is one), and got another couple of larger, massive specimens from a lot we split up on the airplane back home (left images show examples).  Several years later, I got a very fine specimen from Herb Obodda, an American mineral dealer who frequents the area, greatly easing the pain of the initial loss (two views, right images).   A superb crystal, also allegedly from Kashmir, is pictured on the far right (ex coll. Bill Larson).

      A very nice article about the travels, written by expedition member Karen Rice, appeared in Jewelers' Circular Keystone  (Rice [1]).  

   More recently, a pink dog-tooth crystal was found near the classic locality, previously known only for blues.     Ed Cleveland donated this strangeling to our collection (pictured to the right).  It now appears that a few fancy-colored sapphires are being found in the general area, as it is being scoured for additional sources of these legendary gemstones. 


        This discovery may have been eclipsed by a more recent one near Batakundi, not far from the Nangi Mali Mine.  Fancy sapphires with pink or purplish pink body color and a unique "blue veil" are beginning to find their way into the market in Japan.   The veil is especially prominent in the 3.27 carat trilliant on the right.  The cause hasn't yet been identified with certainty, but I suspect it is due to "Rayliegh scattering", the same phenomenon that makes the sky blue. 


     Batakundi sapphires often occur in graphite.  If you use a mild abrasive to remove the coating, you can see just how gemmy the interior is.  On the right are two views of a partial pyramidal sapphire and another with a prominent green alteration halo (fuchsite or zoisite).  

    Near the end of 2010, another nearby locality was discovered, which for now must remain proprietary.  It produced the lovely 11.72 carat bay cut oval gem pictured to the left.  It shares the "blue veil" (slightly exaggerated in the picture) and violet color with Batakundi material, but has flashes of "red fire" not seen before in sapphires from this region.   5/7/2012
       The cut stones from Batakundi came from Akira Kono in Japan.  The big oval came from my friends from the Kashmir trip Aisha and Arif Jan, Rocksaholics (Peshawar and Dallas).  The Batakundi rough was found for our collection by John Saul.  Thank you, gang, for these lovely additions to our collection!