Lot 545. An Extremely Rare 9.15 carats Ceylon Blue Spinel and Diamond Ring, Circa 1950. Estimate HK$ 200,000 - 300,000 (€22,000 - 33,000). Sold for HK$ 625,000 (€67,389). Photo: Bonhams.
The cushion-shaped blue spinel, weighing 9.15 carats, accented by old brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds, ring size 7¼, cased by Garrard & Co Ltd.
Accompanied by a SSEF report stating that the natural spinel has no indications of treatment and originates from Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Report number 94742, dated 4 September 2017.
Also accompanied by a premium appendix stating that the natural spinel exhibits a remarkable size, combined with an attractive and saturated blue colour and a fine purity. Its blue colour is due to a combination of well-balanced trace elements, notably iron and traces of cobalt, typical and characteristic for the finest blue spinels of Ceylon. A natural spinel from Ceylon of this size, quality and attractive blue colour is rare and exceptional.
Note: Until 1783, red and pink spinels were mistaken for rubies because they are chemically similar. Even after fine pink gems were known to be spinels they were still referred to as "balas" or "balais" rubies. The term "balas" derives from an ancient word for Badakhshan, a province north of Afghanistan on the border with Tajikistan, where important spinel specimens were anciently mined. These Kuh-i-Lal ('red mountain') mines were the world's main source of large spinels from the 1st century AD. Marco Polo (c1254–1324) described how "fine and valuable balas rubies" were dug only for the King, who owned the entire supply, which he sent to other kings as tributes or as "friendly presents".
Mughal emperors and their ancestors, the Timurids, valued large Kuh-i-Lal spinels for their beauty and as protective talismans. The gems were polished rather than cut and were often inscribed with the names of rulers and monarchs as a way of commemoration. The Carew Spinel, in the collection of the V&A in London, is inscribed with the names of Emperors Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. Spectacular Mughal spinels which entered Persian, Russian and European royal treasuries include the "Black Prince's Ruby": a large uncut red spinel, it was given to the Black Prince by Pedro the Cruel in 1367, worn by Henry V in his helmet at the Battle of Agincourt and is now set in the Imperial State Crown in the British crown jewels. The 361-carat "Timur Ruby", also in the British crown jewels, was owned by Sultan Sahib Qiran and Ranjit Singh, the "Lion of the Punjab". A huge polished spinel decorates the Imperial Crown of Russia, made for the coronation of Catherine the Great in 1762.
Rare and exceptional, blue spinel is also known as cobalt spinel, gahnospinel, or sapphire spinel. The prized colour is a combination of well-balanced trace element in the gems crystal structure, typically cobalt and iron. Vivid blue spinel, without steely grey overtones are the most sought after and examples over 5 carats are even considered extremely rare. The best gem-quality blue spinels are discovered in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), also known as the 'Island of Gems' since historic times.
Lot 545, is a fine example of a rare blue spinel from Sri Lanka.