A surprising fact about the sapphire industry is that the largest 3 sapphires known to man originated from Sri Lanka. They are the 400 carat Blue Belle of the Orient, the 423 carat Logan Sapphire and the 466 carat Blue Giant of the Orient. In this post, I explore the largest and mysterious of them all, the Blue Giant of the Orient.
The rough that housed this incredible gem was found in 1907 in the ‘Kalu Ganga’ (black river) which serpents its way through the foothills of Adam’s Peak in the district of Ratnapura (the city of gems as it is known in Sinhala). From the point at which it was found, Messrs O. L. M. Macan Markar & Co knew that this gem was going to be something extraordinary! It was reported to have weighed approximately 600 carats in its uncut and unpolished natural state and finding it surely brought immense awe and pride to Markar & Co. They meticulously faceted the rough to retain maximum weight and produced a cushion cut sapphire so fine that it is still revered today.
By August 23rd in 1907, the headline in the ‘Morning Leader’ a leading newspaper in Sri Lanka, ran the story of this enormous beauty. At the time it was valued at £7,000 and was bought by an anonymous American collector whose identity is still unknown. For over 90 years, this sapphire remained out of the public eye, but in 2004 it resurfaced in Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Sale in Geneva, Switzerland. Its description was erroneously given a Kashmir origin because of its prized ‘cornflower blue’ hue but the fact that Kashmir never produced a natural gem over 400 carats inextricably linked its origin back to Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the public auction raised no bids but a private sale after the event gave an anonymous Briton the Blue Giant of Orient for $1 million.
As of today, the Blue Giant of Orient is still under private hands. Its location, its bearer and its beauty still remains known only to a privileged few. The circumstances that produced this gem are as rare as its public disclosure but we can be rest assured that it is kept safe and secure by its mystery owner. Hopefully, it won’t take another 90 years for it to be made visible to the rest of the world.