ROYAL AFFAIR: The announcement of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton has thrown the ‘not-so-humble’ sapphire back onto the celebrity stone list. AAP images
ROYAL AFFAIR: The announcement of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton has thrown the ‘not-so-humble’ sapphire back onto the celebrity stone list. AAP images

Royal sapphire gives region hope

INSET: The spectacular sapphire ring worn by Lady Diana upon her engagement to Prince Charles.

IT’S been billed as ‘something borrowed, something blue’, and something that could spark fresh interest in the beauty of sapphires from romantics world-wide.

The royally recycled ring famously worn by the shy, smiling Lady Diana Spencer to announce her engagement to Prince Charles, and now presented by her son Prince William to his fiancée Kate Middleton; has the Gemfields abuzz with hope of an industry revival.

Queensland Sapphire Producers Association president Cliff Mortley said while the large blue oval sapphire surrounded by a cluster of 14 diamonds wasn’t an everyday find in the rough for a visiting tourist, stones of that size and quality were still being found on the fields.

The ring was chosen by Lady Diana herself from royal jeweller Garrards in 1981, at a cost of 28,000 pounds.

“I can see this renewing the interest in sapphires, particularly considering there’s a lot of monarchists around, and because a lot of people still love the royal family,” Mr Mortley said.

“Bringing this ring out to be recycled means the profile of the sapphire will rise again, which I think is a great thing for the local tourism industry, the Central Queensland economy, but also for the Gemfields.

“I would hope there would be some benefit to the engagement, seeing as we have some of the most beautiful sapphires in the world out here, and we have not only blues, but every colour right through to colour-change sapphires.”

Mr Mortley said the QSPA was looking to develop a website to promote the association, its small miner members and quality sapphires to be offered for sale.

One of the constant challenges facing the local industry was finding buyers, he added.

“There’s not a big market to sell to, and we really need some way of selling these stones,” he said.

“The idea of the QSPA is to push natural sapphires. We have no interest in promoting synthetics because we have plenty of natural product here.

“I would like to see a push for the local sapphires because there are some beautiful stones out here but they only come out at Gemfest for display or sale.

“Obviously because we’re tourist-oriented, they find it, but they also take the stones away with them and that’s the last we hear of it.

“… people have got to understand the sapphire is the state stone of Queensland, but you don’t see it promoted because politicians don’t even know what the state stone is and that’s 90 per cent of the problem. But everybody knows Princess Di’s ring, and hopefully with a bit of luck, it’s re-emergence will lift the profile of our small miners and our region.”

Prince William and Ms Middleton this week announced they will wed in historic Westminster Abbey on April 29 next year.

“I literally would not let it go,” William told ITV of his grip on his mother’s memory and that engagement ring.

“Everywhere I went I was keeping hold of it because I knew this thing, if it disappeared I would be in a lot of trouble.

“It’s very special to me.

“As Kate’s very special to me now, it was right to put the two together.”

“Bringing this ring out to be recycled means the profile of the sapphire will rise again”Queensland Sapphire Producers Association president Cliff Mortley


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