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Saturday, 7 December 2013

A victorian SAPPHIRE of substance

This week, Bonhams London auctioned forty pieces from the collection of famous best seller writer Barbara Taylor Bradford, best known for her novel "A Woman of Substance" which, with 32 million copies, is one of the top ten bestselling fiction books of all time. The collection was mainly contemporary very large pieces, with only one antique brooch that immediately caught my eye. It was a 44 carat Sri Lankan sapphire with a double diamond cluster all set in silver and yellow gold. The brooch is beautiful and very finely made, and since I have a weakness for victorian cluster brooches, it was destined to make it to the blog. The brooch was purchased by her husband at London antique dealer SJ Phillips in 1996.

Victorian Sapphire Brooch from Barbara Taylor Bradford 


The name Sapphire has a greek origin and it means "blue stone". Together with Rubies and Emeralds, Sapphires are one of the three kinds of most precious stones and the four C diamond quality classification applies to them. So Clarity, Cut, Colour and Carat determine the value of a stone. Although they can be found in a large variety of colours, blue is the most sought after and valuable one.        Origin matters a lot, it signals the stone colour quality (and distance purple hues) but also its rarity. The most sought after ones are from Kashmir because of the purity of their blue and also because since 1937 most mining activity has ceased in the region. The second category in terms of origin, is Burma; the stones from this region display an often referred to as "electric blue" colour due to both its intensity as well as its even distribution. The third most important region is Sri Lanka, the stones here are a bit lighter, yet often more uneven. The light tone brings in more brilliance and this makes Sri Lankan sapphires a favourite stone in jewellery making.