Source: Insider

The Most Precious Sapphires Ever: The Story of the Legendary Blue Gemstones

The history of some of the most precious sapphires in the world spans the likes of Napoléon, Queen Elizabeth II, the Rockefeller family, Princess Diana and Kate Middleton.

The birthstone of September is alongside the diamond, ruby and emerald as one of the world’s most valuable jewels. Many of the most famous precious blue gemstones also have an intriguing history. When these gems go up for auction, their value comes from far more than just clarity and weight, it includes the gemstone’s story. From the most historic, to the $100-300 million world’s largest, here’s a look at the most famous sapphires ever.

The Star of Adam

The largest blue star sapphire in the world, the beautiful blue gemstone weights 1,404.49 carats, almost double the previous record holder. Its estimated value – anywhere around A$150-450 million. The sapphire, found in the ‘City of Gems’ Ratnapura, southern Sri Lanka in 2015, is defined by its six-point star-shaped reflection. The name ‘The Star of Adam’ references the Muslim faith that Adam arrived in Sri Lanka and lived on Adam’s Peak.

Napoléon’s Engagement Ring for Joséphine

An engagement ring is meant to signify the start of a journey of love – unfortunately not for Napoléon. The emperor bestowed the exquisite ring to his partner Joséphine who began an affair shortly after he embarked on a conquest of Milan. Some historians believe this betrayal left the French dictator resentful for years to come, feeding anger into this crusade for European dominance.

The ring features two teardrop-shaped stones, a sapphire kissing a diamond, each weighing just under one carat each. The exceptional piece sold for A$1.17 million at auction in France almost 50 times the asking price. The 2013 auction honoured the 250th anniversary of Josephine’s birth.

Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring

There’s no denying the allure of the late Princess of Wales, Princess Diana. A cultural and fashion icon, her style, clothes and jewellery were lauded and imitated by people everywhere. It’s well-known that the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton’s engagement ring formerly belonged to the iconic Princess. The stunning ring features a 12ct oval sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds encrusted in a setting made from 18ct white gold. Prince William gifted the engagement ring to his wife as a way of including his late mother in the ceremony.

The Star of Bombay

If you’re a gin drinker, you may have heard of the British brand, Bombay Sapphire. The namesake is borrowed from the 182ct cabochon-cut star sapphire found in Sri Lanka. The violet-blue gem began life set in a platinum ring acquired by silent movie star Douglas Fairbanks. He gifted it to his wife, actress Mary Pickford who then bequeathed it to the Smithsonian Institution upon her death in 1979. The stunning blue gemstone was removed from its ring and displayed in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C, where it remains today.

Stuart Sapphire

The pinnacle of famous sapphires is the Imperial State Crown sapphire, the Stuart Sapphire. The 104ct blue gemstone is part of the British Crown Jewels and worn by Queen Elizabeth II at the State Opening of Parliament. Although the early origins of the sapphire are obscure, the gem is believed to have belonged to Charles II of England, passing on to his successor James VII travelling with him to France. It returned to England in 1807, in the possession of King George III once again becoming part of the royal collection. Today, the Stuart Sapphire is on display alongside the other crown jewels in the Tower of London.

Rockefeller Sapphire

Serving as the benchmark for measuring all other sapphires, there aren’t many flawless sapphires like the Rockefeller Sapphire. The 62.02ct stone is near perfect in cut, clarity and colour. The rectangle-cut blue gemstone was owned by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and worn as a brooch by his first wife, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.

The jewel entered the possession of his next wife, Martha Baird, in 1948 upon Abby’s passing, and again changed hands in 1971 when the second Mrs Rockefeller died. The Rockefeller children then worked with Sotheby’s to sell the brooch at an auction in Zurich where it sold for $170,000. Its latest appearance came at a Christie’s New York auction in 2001, where it sold for $3 million.

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