ECONOMYNEXT – The largest natural corundum ever recorded in Sri Lanka, which could also be the largest in the world, has attracted interest from potential buyers from China and the US, the 310 kilogram stone’s owner said.
Chamila Suranga, founder of the Gemmological Institute of Ratnapura, which owns the stone, said Chinese buyers have started to express interest after Chinas Xinhua news agency reported on it.
One of the inquiries came through a local gem exporter who had been dealing with China for over 30 years, he said.
“I understand that a Chinese museum is interested in this stone, which we have named the Queen of Asia,” Suranga said.
“We also got an inquiry from an American buyer who wanted to get it and gift it to a top US natural history museum.
Agents representing buyers from both countries had already visited to view the stone, he said.
Suranga said a Duba-based gem trading house had offered to conduct an international auction on a 60/40 split and had offered a base fee of one million dollars to bring it to Dubai.
Suranga said GIR was now pursuing the option and an auction is likely early in 2022.
The Chinese buyer had wanted to know what price was set on the stone.
“But what we said was that we wanted to auction it,” Suranga said. “Then it will be more exciting.”
Suranga is hoping that the geopolitical rivalry between China and the US will extend into gemmology.
A Sri Lankan official said the rarity of the stone would be a key factor in its value.
“This is the largest single corundum stone recorded in Sri Lanka,” Thilak Weerasinghe, Chairman of Sri Lanka’s Gem and Jewelry Authority said last week.
“This is not an aggregate. It is a single stone. As far as we know it could be the largest recorded corundum in the world.”
Sri Lanka had earlier found a star sapphire cluster weighing around 500 kilograms.
He said the price fetched by the stone would come from its rarity.
The stone, which is opaque on the outside in parts, has clear blue patches inside.
Corundum is the family of gem made up of the mineral aluminium oxide, including geuda, blue and red sapphire.
Test conducted on samples obtained form the stone had confirmed that it had refractive index of 1.76 to 1.77, the same as sapphire and hardness of 9.0, Suranga said. (Colombo/Dec16/2021)