People all over the world often report finding interesting or unusual objects in back gardens, but few will have made such a stunning discovery as that of a record-breaking sapphire cluster in Sri Lanka.
Workmen digging a well in a backyard in Ratnapura - an area famous for its gems - unearthed the blue precious stone, the largest ever found. It measured 510 KG, or 2.5 million carats, and would be worth $100 million (£72 million) on the international market.
Speaking to the BBC, the owner, a gem trader only giving his name as Mr Gamage and withholding his address, said: “The person who was digging the well alerted us about some rare stones. Later we stumbled upon this huge specimen.”
He revealed the discovery was made over a year ago, but it has taken him many months to clean and inspect the find.
Top Sri Lankan gem expert Dr Gamini Zoysa told the broadcaster: "I have never seen such a large specimen before. This was probably formed around 400 million years ago.”
It has been named the ‘Serendipity Stone’, both for the luck in finding it and Serendip, the historical Arabic name for Sri Lanka.
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Formed from the mineral corundum like rubies, sapphires are among the most common gemstones found in Sri Lanka. Along with Myanmar and Kashmir, it has produced the most prized specimens of the blue stone, although Australia and the US were the largest producers until recently and Madagascar is now in top spot.
However many of the stones other countries may export, however, Sri Lanka now has an extraordinary record on its hands and may consequently enjoy a major boost to a gem export industry blighted by the pandemic.