- A massive 683-pound sapphire dubbed the "Queen of Asia" is headed to auction.
- The sapphire was found in a mine in Ratnapura, known as Sri Lanka's "city of gems."
- The local gem authorities estimate that it could be worth around $100 million.
A massive 683-pound gemstone thought to be one of the largest ever discovered is heading to auction.
Dubbed the "Queen of Asia," workers found the gem in a mine in the southern city of Ratnapura, known as Sri Lanka's "city of gems."
The rock was displayed on Sunday on a bed of flowers at a gem pit owner's home near Colombo, where blessings were said over the gem, per CNN.
—BBC News Sinhala (@bbcsinhala) December 12, 2021
Speaking to the Sri Lankan business news outlet Economy Next, Thilak Weerasinghe, chairman of Sri Lanka's Gem and Jewelry Authority, said that the gemstone was likely the largest single stone ever found in Sri Lanka. It differs from the "Serendipity Sapphire," a 1,124-pound cluster of sapphires that was dug up in a gem trader's backyard in July in that it's one single stone.
"This is not an aggregate. It is a single stone. As far as we know, it could be the largest recorded corundum in the world," said Weerasinghe.
"If we cut it open, we may find more clear areas inside, like the seeds of a jackfruit," Weerasinghe said, commenting on the seemingly opaque, patchy-blue surface of the gem. "But we need to examine it more."
Chamila Suranga, a representative of the Gemological Institute of Ratnapura, the gem's current owners, told Economy Next that the organization is targeting potential buyers including "museums and high net worth individuals in the Middle East."
Shanka Ruwanditha, the organization's director, told the AP that the gem's owners would be looking to get a solid valuation on the gemstone before selling.
Forbes estimates that if broken down, the "Queen of Asia," could fill around 1,549,016 one-carat engagement rings. Separately, Suranga gave Forbes an estimation that the gem could be worth $100 million, though no official international certification or valuation had been provided for the gem as of press time.
Sri Lanka is known for its gem finds. Other large sapphires found in the country include the "Blue Belle of Asia," a 392-carat sapphire sold at auction for $17.5 million in 2014. Another was the "Star of India," a 563-carat star sapphire on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.