By Imsha Iqbal
Discussions are currently being held regarding displaying the recently discovered natural corundum blue sapphire, named “Queen of Asia”, at Expo 2020 Dubai, The Morning Business learns.
Speaking to us, Gem and Jewellery Research and Training Institute (GJRTI) Chairman Thilak Weerasinghe stated on Tuesday (14): “It has been requested to display this (Queen of Asia) at the Dubai show (Expo 2020 Dubai).”
He said that the Expo is expected to hold “Sapphire Day” and the gem has been requested to be displayed on the said day.
However, Weerasinghe said that a final decision has not been taken and that they are still at the discussion stage. Meanwhile, discussions are being carried out on whether to auction the blue sapphire corundum.
This natural blue sapphire corundum is considered the world’s largest blue sapphire and weighs about 310 kg, as announced last Sunday (12).
Responding to an inquiry regarding the worth of the gem, Weerasinghe noted that studies are being carried out along with the Gemologists’ Association of Sri Lanka (GASL). Following the research, the estimated value would be finalised within less than a month.
In addition, Weerasinghe said that such discoveries of sapphires – also referring to the prior discovery of a star sapphire cluster, named “Serendipity Sapphire” – have paved the way for global recognition of the gem and jewellery industry of Sri Lanka.
Speaking on this global recognition, Weerasinghe said that although these recently unearthed gems are not getting sold, overall, the demand for the gems in Sri Lanka has significantly increased.
Referring to the “Serendipity Sapphire”, he added that the attention of the foreign buyers was garnered while its publicity was applauded locally.
Moreover, he noted that in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, the gem industry of Sri Lanka has been able to report a boost as a result of the aforesaid sapphire cluster that was discovered earlier this year.
“The export percentage from the gem industry has been raised over 90% this time,” he elaborated.
Speaking to State Ministry of Gem and Jewellery-Related Industries Secretary S.M. Piyatissa, he reiterated that the decisions with regard to the “Queen of Asia” would be taken in accordance with the suggestions agreed upon by the individual who owns it, and that discussions were being carried out with Weerasinghe.
On Monday (13), Forbes reported that the gemstone is to be auctioned following obtaining official valuation.
“Gemological Institute of Ratnapura (GIR) President Chamila Surnaga estimated the gem’s worth at $ 100 million, though international organisations had yet to certify the gem as of Monday morning,” Forbes said.
The gemstone has been discovered from the Batugedara area and was located at Horan for the display which took place last Sunday.