New Sapphire discovery

saphir sapphire kataragama

Unfortunately over the past years Sapphire lovers had to face quite some bad news.

From 2005 on, the Ilakaka deposit in Madagscar, which was one of the most important sources of fine blue Sapphires ever since it was discovered in 1998, has steadily lost on importance. Depletion of near-surface deposits is one reason, the political and economical situation is another.

In February 2008 former President Marc Ravalomana banned the export of rough gems, hoping to boost the development of a local gem cutting industry. Unfortunately that never happened. Instead production rapidly declined due to lack of international buyers.

Another blow came with the begin of the worldwide financial crisis, following the fall of the Lehman Brothers bank in October 2008. Many small mines simply closed down because the owners, many of them small farmers who had come to challenge their luck in times of boom, could not afford operating any more and returned to their home villages.

After a military coup in March 2009, the interim government suspended minig licenses to re-negotiate the terms.

The ban on rough exports was lifted on July 17th 2009 by interimistic minister of mines Jean Rudolph Ramanantsoa but, alas, the damage had been done. At the moment several small mines are still operative, but Madagascar so far failed to regain its former glory.

In the light of all this we are all the more glad to spread some good news, for a change.

In February 2012 blue Sapphires were found near the town of Kataragama in southeastern Sri Lanka. Size, quantity and quality of the stones found so far, nourish hope, that the new source could at least partially make up for Madagascars decline as a prime supplier of high end Sapphires.

Furthermore, what has been found indicates, that Kataragama is a primary, rather than a secondary (alluvial) deposit. This means that the Sapphires are found at, or at least very near their place of formation, rather than at faraway places, to which they were transported by the forces of erosion.

Not many gem crystals survive the processes of erosion and transportation (e.g. in river gravels) undamaged. Thus the average size of gems from secondary deposits is much smaller than that of gems from primary sources.

Vincent Pardieufrom GIA Bangkok, headed a field trip to Kataragama and has published a very interesting first report indeed.

As always in the boom that inevitably follows new gem discoveries, prices asked go from very low to sky-high in no time at all. There are, however, always the lucky few which reach the spot first and are able to buy for reasonable prices.

Our broker in Sri Lanka is closely monitoring the situation and will inform us, when the first cut and facetted Kataragama Sapphires hit the local markets.

We will keep you posted...