Sapphires reigned supreme at Bonhams London Jewels sale on December 2, 2021, at New Bond Street. A sapphire, diamond and natural pearl pendant, from the late 19th century was the top lot, achieving £206,500, followed by a Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring, dating from circa 1920, which sold for £187,750.
Left: A Sapphire, Diamond and Natural Pearl Pendant, Late 19th Century. Sold for £206,500
Right: A Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring, circa 1920. Sold for £187,750.
Picture courtesy of Bonhams
Emily Barber, Bonhams Head of Jewellery UK, said: “We’re very pleased with the result of today’s sale. The exquisite sapphire and pearl pendant, and the exceptional sapphire and diamond ring, were clearly the standout pieces of the sale – and it is no wonder such show-stopping gems attracted the attention of the bidders.”
Kashmir sapphires were first discovered in the late 1870s high in the snow-clad Great Himalayas of north-western India, where a landslide revealed unknown deposits in a rock valley 4,500 metres above sea level. By 1882, the Maharaja of Kashmir had taken control of the mine, that could only be worked from July-September each year due to the high altitude and near perpetual heavy snowfall. By 1887 the ‘Old Mine’ was nearly exhausted and a ‘New Mine’, on the valley floor 250 metres below, gave up some fine sapphires but generally of lesser quality, size and quantity. The area was worked sporadically until the early 1930s, but the glory years of the 1880s were never repeated.