Pingdingshan, China—The 61,500-carat Millennium Sapphire has a new owner and could soon be back in the public eye.
Yulong Eco-Materials Ltd., manufacturer of eco-friendly building products and a construction waste management company, said it has agreed to acquire the gem in a $50 million deal.
The deal is contingent on YECO shareholder and NASDAQ approval.
The Millennium Sapphire was discovered in Madagascar in 1995. A consortium of investors, led by Asian entrepreneur Daniel McKinney, has owned the stone since then.
Rather than break it into smaller pieces, McKinney hired designer Alessio Boschi to carve the stone.
Boschi’s sculpted a tribute to the “creative genius of humanity” in the gemstone, according to the Millennium Sapphire owners’ website.
Beginning with a base of human figures supporting the four elements—air, water, earth and fire—the carvings then wind upward in a spiral depicting more than 134 figures that each represent a great mind, inventor or creator throughout recorded history.
This includes the Pyramids of Giza, Confucius, the Great Wall of China, Julius Caesar, Mayan hieroglyphic writing, Leonardo da Vinci, Christopher Columbus, Monet, Edison, Einstein and many more.
Each carving has an accompanying three-dimensional figurine in lapis, as seen at left.
A number of gem labs have had the chance to inspect and issue reports on the Millennium Sapphire, including the Gemological Institute of America, Gübelin Gem Lab and the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences.
Also viewing the stone was Garry Du Toit, who is now with the GIA in Bangkok. According to its owners, he said: “It is definitely gem-grade sapphire, a fine gem blue color. Other famous blue sapphires cannot compare in terms of size, weight and quite possibly color.”
Christian Dunaigre, formerly with Gübelin, said the sapphire is “everyone’s dream.”
In 2001 the Guinness Book of World Records recognized it as the largest carved sapphire in the world at 61,500 carats. (A multi-colored carved sapphire weighing 80,500 carats topped it four years later.)
The Millennium Sapphire has been largely out of the public eye for more than a decade now, resurfacing briefly in 2013 when the consortium of investors who owned the stone went looking for a buyer.
Yulong said it plans to take the Millennium Sapphire on a tour of museums around the world as well as develop documentaries around it and encourage filmmakers to use the massive gemstone in their movies.
“We will develop the business and cash flows of the Millennium Sapphire through branding and licensing along with royalties and ticket sales through major museums worldwide,” CEO Hoi Ming Chan said. “We will retain some of the top art and promotions experts globally to develop and manage this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”