Sapphires, with their mesmerizing beauty and historical significance, have captivated the hearts of collectors, investors, and gem enthusiasts for centuries. These stunning gemstones, known for their deep blue hue but available in a range of colors, have not only been cherished as symbols of wealth and power but have also proven to be lucrative investments. In this first of the 2 story series, we will explore the historical perspective of sapphires as an investment, shedding light on their enduring allure and the compelling reasons to consider them as a valuable addition to an investment portfolio.
Sapphires through the Ages
To appreciate the historical significance of sapphires as an investment, it is crucial to delve into their journey through the annals of history. Sapphires have a rich heritage that dates back to ancient civilizations, where they held esteemed positions in various cultures.
In ancient Greece and Rome, sapphires were revered as symbols of wisdom, loyalty, and nobility. These attributes added to the gemstone’s appeal and established its cultural significance. It was believed that sapphires had the power to protect their wearers from harm and envy, further enhancing their desirability.
During the Middle Ages, sapphires became closely associated with ecclesiastical symbolism and were incorporated into religious artifacts and regal jewelry. The British Crown Jewels feature some of the world’s most renowned sapphires, including the Stuart Sapphire, a 104-carat blue sapphire that was originally set in the Imperial State Crown of England.
In the Far East, particularly in countries like India and Burma (now Myanmar), sapphires were highly valued not only for their aesthetic beauty but also for their mystical properties. Believed to bring good fortune, wisdom, and prosperity, sapphires held an esteemed place in the court of the Indian Maharajas and were often used in the creation of extravagant jewelry pieces.
The Sapphire Market: Past Performance
To evaluate sapphires as an investment, it is essential to consider their historical market performance. Over the centuries, sapphires have consistently demonstrated their ability to retain and increase in value. A few notable examples illustrate this point:
a. The Star of Bombay: One of the most famous sapphires in the world, the Star of Bombay, weighing 182 carats, was given to actress Mary Pickford by her husband, Douglas Fairbanks. After changing hands several times, it was acquired by the American Museum of Natural History in 1964 for a substantial sum. The appreciation in value of this sapphire over the years serves as a testament to their investment potential.
b. The Logan Sapphire: Weighing an astonishing 423 carats, the Logan Sapphire is another remarkable example of a sapphire that has appreciated significantly in value. It was purchased for $75,000 in 1952 and is estimated to be worth millions today.
c. The Blue Belle of Asia: In 2014, this magnificent 392.52-carat sapphire fetched a staggering $17.3 million at an auction, setting a new world record for the highest price ever paid for a sapphire. This sale underscored the enduring appeal and investment potential of these gemstones.
Rarity and Scarcity
Sapphires owe much of their investment appeal to their rarity and scarcity. Unlike other assets, such as stocks or real estate, sapphires are finite resources, and their supply is limited by nature. The rarity of high-quality sapphires, especially those with exceptional color, clarity, and size, makes them highly sought after by collectors and investors alike.
The finest sapphires are typically found in a select few regions, with Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Kashmir, India, being historically renowned sources. The dwindling supply from these regions due to mining limitations and geopolitical factors has further elevated the value of sapphires. As the standard of living rises in regions such as China (1.4bln) and India (1.4bln), demand for these exquisite gemstones continues to grow. Following the fundamental principles of supply and demand suggest that their prices will likely appreciate over time.
[Finished blue sapphire – Picture by KREIS]
[Blue sapphire jewelry by KREIS – Picture by KREIS]