gem origin = Kashmir-like Madagascar sapphire
14-ct Kashmir-like Madagascar sapphire submitted by Jeffery Bergman to Lotus Gemology, pictured on a background of sapphire rough from Kashmir, India. © Lotus Gemology.

One Gem, Three Opinions

Earth’s geology has a highly mobile history. Greenland was a tropical paradise two hundred million years ago. Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and India were connected one hundred twenty million years ago.

the continents 120 mya - gem origin opinions
The continents, 120 million years ago. © Beastmode22.

When they separated, the land mass that moved northeast became the Indian subcontinent, with the island of Sri Lanka trailing along. Madagascar moved northwest, following the new continent of Africa.

the continents 50 mya - gem origin opinions
The continents, 50 million years ago. © Beastmode22.

With this knowledge, we can begin to understand how and why well-respected gemological laboratories disagree on gemstone origins from time to time.

For gem labs, correctly determining the origins of sapphires presents a significant challenge. The rest of the “Big Three,” emeralds and rubies, just don’t compare. Nowhere is this more obvious than at the occasional sapphire auction with multiple origin opinions from highly respected gem labs. The most notorious example would be this 18.08-ct, unheated natural sapphire offered at Christie’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels auction on December 1, 2015.

unheated, natural sapphire
8.08-ct, unheated, natural sapphire. © Christie’s.