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Government plans to auction rare Kashmir Sapphire

Haroon Mirani

Srinagar, Jan 12, 2007 (Kashmir Newz Desk) :

Sapphire
A Kashmir Sapphire studded Edwardian platinum diamond ring. Courtersy:www.kashmir-sapphires.com
Hoping to cash on the huge global demand for pure Kashmir Sapphires, the government of Indian administered Kashmir is planning to auction its limited stock of 21638 grams of Sapphire corundum, Minister of Commerce Romesh Chandra said.

Kashmir produces world’s best quality Sapphires, which are extracted from inhospitable Himalayan mines located in Padder area, about 300 kilometers from summer capital Srinagar. The government currently owns world’s largest stock of Kashmir Sapphire corundum of about 21638 grams, which they plan to auction in the coming months.

Due to the limitation of working period, difficult terrain and lack of financial resources of Jammu and Kashmir Minerals Limited, concerned agency for mineral extraction, no commercial exploitation of Sapphire mines has taken place in Padder area since 1978, Chandra said.

But the corporation managed to extract a limited quantity of 21638 grams of sapphire corundum, between 1998 to 2005.

A local lawmaker alleged that due non surveillance of Padder area, it has become a den of Sapphire smugglers. Annually Sapphires worth INR two to three billion vanish from the famed mines, Ved Prakash a lawmaker belonging to ruling congress party informed assembly.

Pushed by high investment cost the corporation has decided to float tenders in this regard at National and International levels for exploration as well as exploitation of deposits for joint ventures.

The Kashmir sapphire deposits were accidentally discovered by local people after a hillside slipped away in 1881 in Padder area.

With intense velvet blue color Kashmir sapphires they are regarded as the purest form of Sapphire found anywhere in the world, thus making them most sought after and highly valued.

An antique 13.86 carat Kashmir sapphire fetched more than $ 360,000 at the Christie's auction on December 09, last year.

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