|Loose Sapphire Gemstones
Sapphire is found in relatively few locations in the world. The most famous deposits are in Asia, including Burma, Sri Lanka, India (Kashmir), Thailand and Cambodia. The largest deposits outside Asia are in Australia, though the quality of the Australian material is typically modest. In the USA there are small sapphire deposits in Montana and North Carolina. More recently, African sapphire has become important in the market, with good quality material coming from Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria.
Though sapphire deposits are spread across four continents, the vast majority of sapphire processing and trading takes place in Thailand, particularly in our home city of Chanthaburi in southeast Thailand.
Chanthaburi province was one of the two main sources for Thai sapphire (the other is in Kanchanaburi). Sapphire mining in Chanthaburi is mainly finished, with the exception of the black/gold star sapphires, which are found nowhere else in the world. Now Chanthaburi has become the main trading and processing center in the world for sapphire and ruby.
Chanthaburi provides loose sapphires to the world market in a huge variety of sizes, colors and quality grades. Pure corundum is colorless, and sapphire gets its colors from trace amounts of impurities. Corundum containing traces of chromium appears red, and is known as ruby. All the other colors of corundum are known as sapphire. Purple sapphire contains traces of vanadium, while yellow and green sapphire owe their color to traces of iron. Blue sapphires are colored by titanium and pink sapphire, like ruby, is colored by chromium.
A rare variety of sapphire, known as color change sapphire, exhibits different colors in different light. Color change sapphires are typically blue in outdoor light and purple under incandescent light. Color changes may also be pink in daylight to greenish under fluorescent light. Some stones shift color well and others only partially, in that some stones go from blue to bluish purple. While color change sapphires come from a variety of locations, Tanzania is the main source.
- First Published: October-15-2009
- Last Updated: March-05-2011
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