An antique sapphire and diamond pendant. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2007

Set with a cushion-cut sapphire, weighing approximately 22.66 carats, within an old European-cut diamond surround, mounted in gold, circa 1886. Estimate $250,000 - $350,000. Price Realized $3,064,000

With report 0702554 dated 20 February 2007 from the Gübelin Gemmological Laboratory stating that gemmological testing revealed characteristics consistent with those of sapphires originating from Kashmir. No indications of heating

Accompanied by an appendix stating that the 22.66 carat natural sapphire described in this report possesses a combination of outstanding characteristics. Besides its large size, this extraordinary gemstone displays a richly saturated and homogeneous colour, combined with a very high degree of transparency. The pleasant shape and finely proportioned cut provide many vivid, internal colour reflections and the high clarity of the gemstone makes it practically eye-clean. In addition, this remarkable gemstone has been spared of thermal treatment

Natural, non-enhanced sapphires from Kashmir of this large size, endowed with such intrinsic qualities as a high clarity and transparency, combined with a saturated colour and a fine cut, which compliments its visual appearance, are very rare

With report 91017610 dated 24 January 2007 from the AGTA Gemological Testing Center stating that the data obtained during the examination of this natural sapphire indicates that the probable geographic origin is Kashmir. No indications of heating

The Empire Builder: James J. Hill
An Exceptional Sapphire Sold on Behalf of the Minnesota Historical Society

A great figure of America's Gilded Age, James J. Hill (1838-1916) was one of the wealthiest and most powerful industrialists of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries. He was best-known as the builder of the Great Northern Railway (now the Burlington Northern Santa Fe) and was involved with banking, agriculture, copper and iron-ore mining, and the timber and milling industries in the Northwest.

Mr. Hill came to St. Paul at age seventeen from Ontario and soon established himself in the shipping business on the Mississippi and Red rivers. He married Mary T. Mehegan in 1867 and had ten children. At the time of his death in 1916, James J. Hill had amassed a personal fortune of $63 million, plus $200 million in related assets. His collection of French Barbizon and Romantic artworks forms the core of the European paintings at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and his St. Paul home is now a National Historic Landmark owned and operated by the Minnesota Historical Society.

Along with his collections of landscape paintings, bronze sculpture and rare books, Mr. Hill collected gems and jewelry for his wife and children as well as for investment purposes. This remarkable Kashmir sapphire of 22.66 carats was set as a pendant and was incorporated into a necklace purchased by James J. Hill for his wife in 1886. At the time, he paid $2200 for the sapphire pendant. The necklace was later dismantled and given to various Hill children. The pendant remained with one of the daughters, Gertrude Gavin, who gave it to her sister Rachel Boeckmann. After her death, the pendant was left to one of her daughters who later donated it to the James J. Hill House Historic Site in 2006.

The Kashmir sapphire conjures up only one image in a collector's mind: its unrivalled, magnificent blue color. This mesmerizing stone of significant size is perhaps one of the most important sapphires currently on the market and is unsurpassed in richness and life.

Christie's. MAGNIFICENT JEWELS, 25 April 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plazawww.christies.com