Workmen digging a well in a man's backyard discovered a $100 million windfall - a cluster of 2.5 million sapphire carats
Ratnapura, which means "City of Gemstones" in Sinhala and Tamil languages, is the place where the "Serendipity Sapphire", a huge collection of 2.5 million gemstones, was found. Thierry Falise / LightRocket via Getty Images
Workers digging a well hauled up a giant group of £ 1,124 worth of sapphire worth $ 100 million.
The cluster has been named "Serendipity Sapphire" and consists of 2.5 million carats of sapphire.
This lucky find was in Ratnapura, known as Sri Lanka's City of Gemstones.
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Workers digging a well in the back yard of a Sri Lankan gem dealer stumbled upon a godsend - an accumulation of 2.5 million sapphire carats weighing over 1,000 pounds.
The lucky find was made in the southern city of Ratnapura, known as Sri Lanka's "City of Gems". The cluster, which has been referred to as the "Serendipity Sapphire," is a staggering 39 inches long and 28 inches wide.
Gamage, a third generation gem dealer and owner of the stone, declined to give his full name to the BBC. He told the news agency that it took him over a year to wash the mud from the 1,124-pound cluster, analyze the stone's qualities, and get it officially certified.
"The person who dug the well brought some rare stones to our attention," Gamage told the BBC. "We later stumbled upon this huge specimen."
What indicated to him that the find could be worth an astronomical sum was the fact that pieces of high-quality sapphires repeatedly chipped off as he cleaned contaminants from the rock.
The sapphire cluster has been valued at up to $ 100 million, according to the BBC.
"I've never seen such a large specimen before. It was probably formed around 400 million years ago," gemologist Gamini Zoysa told the BBC.
The news agency also spoke to Thilak Weerasinghe, chairman of the Sri Lankan National Gem and Jewelry Authority, who said the sapphire would likely interest private collectors and museums given its size and value.
The total value of the gem and jewelry trade in Sri Lanka is estimated at around $ 550 million per year. This means that the Serendipity Sapphire gem cluster alone could be worth a fifth of the country's annual gem export revenues.
Sri Lanka is known for its gemstone finds. Other large blue sapphires found in the country include the "Blue Belle of Asia," a 392-carat cushion-cut sapphire that sold for $ 17.5 million at auction.
The "Star of India" was also found in the country's mines, a 563-carat star sapphire currently on display in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It was one of the jewels that amateur jewel thieves ran away with in 1964 after breaking into the museum and using a glass cutter and tape to open the box it was displayed in.
A Sri Lankan jewelry organization told the BBC in 2011 that the 12-carat sapphire that rests in the heart of the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton's ring was likely from mines in Sri Lanka.
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