WorldWide Drilling Resource

20 OCTOBER 2021 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Cluster of Sapphires Worth $100 Million Found by Accident Compiled by Amy White, Associate Editor, WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Located in southwestern Sri Lanka, the town of Ratnapura is the country’s largest pro- ducer of precious and semiprecious gems. The name Ratnapura means “City of Gems.” A recent backyard sapphire discovery was considered an enormous surprise, even in this city known for its gems. The discovery happened as workers were digging a well on private property and happened upon a mind-boggling cluster of 2.5 million sapphire carats weighing over 1000 pounds. The cluster measured 39 inches long and 28 inches wide and was named the “Serendipity Sapphire.” The owner of the land where the cluster was discovered happens to be a third-generation gem trader. He said it took more than a year to clean mud off the specimen so he could evaluate the stone and have it certified. As the owner cleaned, he said large pieces of star sapphires of the f i nes t qua l i t y peeled away from the clump. G e m o l o g i s t Gamini Zoysa said this is the largest occurrence he has ever seen, and the specimen is likely about 400 million years old. The discovery is hopeful for Sri Lanka as the country’s gem industry works to recover losses due to lockdowns brought on by the pandemic. According to some experts, it is not a given that all sapphires in the spec- imen will be top quality. Even so, the gem industry of Sri Lanka is optimistic the “Serendipity Sapphire’s” size and worth will captivate buyers across the globe. Sri Lanka’s annual gem and jewelry industry is valued at approximately $550 million. The “Serendipity Sapphire” has an estimated value of up to $100 million. Thilak Weerasinghe, chairman of the National Gem and Jewelry Authority of Sri Lanka, said the “Serendipity Sapphire” is most likely the largest sapphire specimen in the world. Sri Lanka is no stranger to famous gem discoveries. The 392.52-carat “Blue Belle of Asia,” the fourth largest sapphire ever recorded, was found in Sri Lanka in the 1920s. Another famous sapphire discovered in Sri Lanka is the “Star of India,” a 563-carat gem currently housed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Editor’s Note: In between our print issues, the WWDR Team prepares an electronic newsletter called E-News Flash by WorldWide Drilling Resource ® . This newsletter is filled with articles not included in our print issue. Based on readership, this was the most popular article of the month. Get in on the action and subscribe today at: WTR Photo of the Serendipity Sapphire courtesy of Mr. Gamage. Sapphires are in the corundum family of minerals and second only to diamonds on the Mohs hardness scale. In fact, its durability makes it an ideal choice for cell phone camera lenses and shatterproof display screens on smartphones. Even the checkout scanner at your local market is covered with a very thin layer of sapphire to prevent the glass from getting scratched as grocery items are dragged across.