HomeMajor Colored StonesRubies and SapphiresSapphires from Pailin, Cambodia

Sapphires from Pailin, Cambodia

The Cambodian city of Pailin (the ancient Khmer word for “Blue Sapphire”) is steeped in local

folklore regarding its precious treasures: “Long ago when the men folk sharpened their spears to go out hunting, the Gods feared for the local wildlife. The Gods told the townsfolk to lay down their arms, explaining that if they promised not to hunt the beasts of the forests they would find something of far greater value in the streams and rivers. Sure enough, they found Sapphires in abundance.”

 

Pailin blue sapphire are sapphires coming from basaltic areas at the Thai cambodian Border. They can be from light to deep blue with a very pure and intense blue. They as usually not as inky as many other blue sapphire from other basaltic areas. Some of the stones coming from Pailin can be placed among the best sapphires produced. 
These sapphire are famous among the gemmological world for hosting a quite unique very nice inclusion known as Uranopyrochlore This inclusion is easy to recognise as it form beautiful reddish orange octahedrons crystals in the blue stone with. 
Currently the production of the Pailin sapphire has slow down and Pailin sapphire are difficult to find in the Bangkok sapphire market which is full of stones coming from Madagascar. Most of Pailin sapphires have been heat treated.

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They were once valued greater than Ceylons, and far better from other alkali sapphire like those of Kanchanaburi or Australia.

As of writing, Stones over 2 carats are very rare, the mining is very low now as most of the large scale mining operations have closed as most of the profitable important alluvial deposits are exhausted. There are only about 5 mines around the city with some machinery... Most of the current mining is performed "after the rain" by local people with very simple and basic equipment. It looks more like people going to seach for mushrooms or snales in the french countryside than real mining.
In the market I 've seen some african rough stones sold as Pailin gems and I have seen also several synthethics mixed with natural stones in lots. 
Most of the stones available in the market are heat treated in Pailin before being sent to be cut. Several burners offers cheap services to miners and dealers down town Pailin.

A small village surrounded by volcanoes and jungles, Pailin is now a very quiet place.

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