today. They’re famed for lighter colours— as well as, unusually, the dark engagement ring worn by both Diana Spencer and Kate Middleton—and sapphires of all other colours. Sri Lanka has been the source of famously large stones, sometimes even in the hundreds of carats.
Burma, famous for its rubies, is also celebrated for its sapphires, the best specimens being of a rich royal blue, the epitome of the perfect deeper sapphire blue.
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Africa joined the ranks of sapphire producers more recently, with deposits discovered in the 20th and 21st centuries. Countries such as Kenya and Tanzania became important suppliers, but the beautiful and diverse Indian Ocean island of Madagascar has stolen the gemstone show in the past 30 years, with high-quality deposits of sapphires discovered all over the country.
In the 19th century, quite by chance, sapphires were discovered in the US and Australia. In both instances, the sapphire strikes followed gold rushes. Today, Australia can boast of being the biggest sapphire producer in the world by volume, although its stones can rarely match the colour and quality of Kashmir’s sapphires.