Workmen digging a well hauled up a massive 1,124-pound cluster of sapphires worth $100 million.
The cluster has been named the “Serendipity Sapphire” and is composed of 2.5 million sapphire carats.
This lucky find happened in Ratnapura, known as Sri Lanka’s city of gems.
Workers digging a well in the backyard of a Sri Lankan gem trader stumbled upon a windfall – a cluster of 2.5 million sapphire carats that weighs over 1,000 pounds.
The lucky find was made in the southern city of Ratnapura, which is known to be Sri Lanka’s “city of gems.” The cluster, which was named the “Serendipity Sapphire,” is a staggering 39 inches long and 28 inches wide.
Gamage, a third-generation gemstone trader and owner of the stone, declined to give the BBC his full name. He told the news outlet that it took him over a year to wash the mud off the 1,124-pound cluster, analyze the stone’s qualities, and get it officially certified.
“The person who was digging the well alerted us about some rare stones,” Gamage told the BBC. “Later, we stumbled upon this huge specimen.”
What tipped him off that the find could be worth an astronomical sum was the fact that hunks of high-quality sapphires kept chipping off while he was cleaning impurities off the rock.
The sapphire cluster has been given a valuation of up to $100 million, per the BBC.
“I have never seen such a large specimen before. This was probably formed around 400 million years ago,” gemologist Gamini Zoysa told the BBC.
The news outlet also spoke to Thilak Weerasinghe, the Sri Lankan national gem and jewelry authority chair, who said the sapphire would likely interest private collectors and museums considering its sheer size and value.
The total value of the gem and jewelry trade in Sri Lanka is estimated to be worth around $550 million per year. This means that the Serendipity Sapphire gem cluster alone could be worth a fifth of the country’s annual takings in gem exports.
Sri Lanka is known for its gem finds. Other large blue sapphires found in the country include the “Blue Belle of Asia,” a 392-carat cushion cut sapphire that sold at auction for $17.5 million.
Also found in the country’s mines was the “Star of India,” a 563-carat star sapphire currently on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It was one of the gems that amateur jewel thieves made off with back in 1964 after breaking into the museum and opening the box it was displayed in with a glasscutter and duct tape.
A Sri Lankan jewelers’ organization told the BBC in 2011 that the 12-carat sapphire that rests in the heart of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s ring likely came from mines in Sri Lanka.
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