Can You Tell Which Sapphire Is More $$$$$?

When Walter McTeigue, co-owner of the Berkshires and NYC-based luxury jewelry atelier McTeigue & McClelland shopped the AGTA Pavilion at this year’s JCK Las Vegas, he posed a question to his Instagram followers, accompanied by the image shown above:

Can you tell which #sapphire is from #Madagascar and which from #kashmir – at FOUR TIMES THE PRICE…?

Each stone weighed 4.5 cts. and, as you can see in the photo,  were quite similar in appearance. “You would probably have no problem selling them as a perfectly matched pair of stones, say for a pair of earrings,” says McTeigue.

Kashmir sapphires, as many in our community well know, have a very distinctive color and the material itself has a unique brilliance to it, what McTeigue would describe as a silky look and feel. Certainly, there’s a built-in cachet that comes with a sapphire’s origin, whether it’s from Kashmir, Burma, or Sri Lanka, but is the markup worth it?

“Madagascar produces more sapphires that look like Kashmir than any other country, but ironically, Madagascar has the least pedigree in the hierarchy,” says McTeigue, who acknowledges that not every Kashmir sapphire displays the ideal caliber of color, clarity, and brilliance, despite their prestigious reputation.

Which is why McTeigue and his business partner, Tim McClelland, stand by a very simple, but effective gem-hunting strategy: “If you’re looking for a really beautiful stone, you don’t look at the origin, because the prices relative to the stones can be very skewed. The country of origin—the paper that comes with your purchase—only helps to corroborate the value of the stone.”

Consider an unsigned antique Tutti Frutti bracelet that hails from an anonymous workshop—its perceived value is automatically less than a nearly identical design with a Cartier signature.

A gem dealer’s decision to charge big bucks for a Kashmir sapphire also has to do with rarity. There are significantly fewer Kashmir sapphires (a finite number in the world that are known about, according to McTeigue) than those that hail from Madagascar. “But Madagascar sapphires are extremely undervalued in my mind,” says McTeigue, who feels the same way about rubies from Mozambique, a stone he and his team are very proud to offer their clients.

“We like being at the forefront of those who got behind a beautiful stone early. When sapphires from Madagascar entered the market, people would lie about their origin because it seemed sort of unglamorous.

“Twenty years from now, people [in the trade] are going to be laughing at how they turned their noses up at sapphires from Madagascar, because I think these stones will ultimately earn the status of being a luxury, in-demand product.”

Turns out, neither Instagram-featured sapphire made its way into the McTeigue & McClelland collection that day. “I think the dealer recognized the Madagascar was as good as a Kashmir and wanted a lot of money for it. It was a reasonable price but I don’t buy just to buy.”

But back to the original question—can you tell which one is the Kashmir and which one is the Madagascar? Venture a guess in the comments below.


Follow me on Instagram – @aelliott718

All That Glitters Writer

  • MissX2

    Kashmir, left. Madagascar, right.

    • Catherine Iskiw

      Same. Kashmir, left. Madagascar, right.

  • Shiv C

    If I had the stones in sight I could tell them apart, pictures can be tricky

    • leeaundra

      So true, especially colored stones. Enlarging and looking at the cut, I’d have to guess the one on the left – but I’d never put my reputation behind a photo rather than actual gem inspection.

  • Handy22

    They are both from Madagascar. The “Kashmir” stone has a report but check the lab and the date on it.

    • E.R.A. Triano

      what? srsly?

      • John Dyer

        Yes, seriously, there was a new find in Madagascar that looks very “Kashmir” like and many labs were issuing reports stating that they were from Kashmir.

        • John Dyer

          Although, it is very likely that the one really is a Kashmir in this case since the dealer properly represented the Madagascar gem. Just be sure to get a RECENT lab report from GIA, Gubelin, Lotus, AGL or other major gem lab if buying a “Kashmir” sapphire.

  • Benjamin Guttery

    I love that you started this discussion Amy, so many new sources of gemstones have come online in this past decade that people thumb their noses at. But if they saw the opportunity and them, they could make a hefty profit now and down the line.

  • Walter McTeigue

    Well as someone mentioned, you really can’t identify a stone from a photo however most everyone’s instinct was right. The Kashmir is on the left. The Madagascar on the right is quite a gem. It’s hard to look at anything next to a Kashmir – but this one held up well. Thanks for your input!

  • pilot99

    Kashmir on the right?