Many of us would find the remains of a beloved pet digging up our backyards (and that’s on a good day). For one Mr Gamage – who just so happens to be a third-generation gem trader – unearthing the soil beneath his home in Ratnapura, Sri Lanka has led to the discovery of the world’s largest star sapphire cluster. A sapphire cluster, it’s worth adding, with an estimated value of up to $100 million on the international market.
Weighing approximately 510 kilograms (2.5 million carats) and since dubbed the “Serendipity Sapphire”, the cluster was initially discovered by tradies who were there to dig a well. As you can imagine, the geological lottery caused quite the commotion.
“The person who was digging the well alerted us about some rare stones,” Gamage explains to the BBC.
“Later we stumbled upon this huge specimen.”
“I have never seen such a large specimen before,” says renowned gemmologist, Dr Gamini Zoysa.
“This was probably formed around 400 million years ago.”
After notifying authorities, the sapphire cluster underwent a year-long cleaning process to remove all the mud and other impurities. Experts then analysed and certified Gamage’s stones, valuating it at nine-figures – despite the fact not every stone may be of high-quality.
“It is a special star sapphire specimen, probably the biggest in the world,” notes Thilak Weerasinghe, Chairman of the National Gem & Jewellery Authority of Sri Lanka.
“Given the size and its value, we think it will interest private collectors or museums.”
Before you head to Bunnings for a few tools and start tearing up your own backyard, however, keep in mind Sri Lanka is the leading global exporter of sapphires and other precious gems; earning over $500 million in exports last year. And incidentally, the area of Ratnapura – which is actually Sinhalese for “city of gems” – is the country’s gem capital.
Still, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. So do as you wish and see where it takes you.