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Sapphire Gemstone Information

Sapphire Gemstone Info
Natural Sapphire Gemstones

Introduction

Sapphire. Just saying or reading the word conjures up an immediate vision of a deep blue gemstone perhaps adorning the hand of a princess, prominent on a royal crown or catching the eye on a sultan's turban. The diamond may be the king of the gemstones but surely it is the royal blue sapphire that inflames desire above all others.

As a brother or sister to the ruby, the sapphire shares its allure, value and scarcity. They are both members of the corundum family with rubies being red and sapphires covering all the other colors, sapphires are famously blue but yellow, green or purple versions are objects of true wonder.

Sapphire Colors

Sapphire Color Range
Sapphire Color Range

Sapphires are a variety of the mineral corundum as are the equally famous and valuable Rubies. Rubies make up the red side of the family while Sapphires are all the other colors - the famous blue as well as pink, green, purple, orange and yellow. There are also black and colorless Sapphires.

Blue sapphires are just called 'sapphires' while the other colors usually need a color prefix, for example pink sapphires or yellow sapphires. Sometimes the colored versions are known as fancy sapphires although this does not apply to the colorless, black or blue type.

A name worth noting is the Padparadscha Sapphire.

Padparadscha Sapphire is a blend of a pink and an orange colored sapphire resulting in a peachy or salmon colored stone that is named after a delicately-colored lotus flower. The Padparadscha Sapphires are possibly the rarest of all very much desired and highly priced but the demand is such that they do not often come onto the open market.

Padparadscha Colors
Padparadscha Sapphires

All other factors being equal, pretty much all colored gemstones are valued on their color, a combination of hue, tone and saturation. A nice even color throughout the gemstone is very much desired with a deep color tone without it being too dark for the color to be appreciated. Sapphires are no different but it is the blues that are valued more than other colors and a blue which can be described as Cornflower blue or sometimes Kashmir Blue is the best.

A rare phenomenon in the world of gems is the ability to change color when viewed under different types of light. Some sapphires have this ability usually a bluish color in daylight to a reddish color under electric lights.

Then there are bi-colored sapphires, showing two different colors under the same lighting conditions, the better examples gradually change color across the stone when scanned from the top of the gemstone.

The colors of sapphires (and rubies) are caused by the presence of minute impurities within the base corundum mineral. A trace presence of chromium, iron or titanium elements in various proportions can create all the colors we see in these two valuable gemstones.

Sapphire Species

Sapphires are all types of corundum with trace element impurities responsible for their various colors. Corundum is separated simply by their color, all red corundum are rubies (this can cause a few arguments over where a light red ruby becomes a pink sapphire) and all other colors are sapphires.

List of sapphire varieties

  • Blue Sapphire or just SapphireAll sapphires that can be considered blue in color
  • Yellow SapphireCanary yellow to almost honey colored
  • Orange SapphireThe deepest yellows to nearly red
  • Green SapphireAll the green hues
  • Pink SapphireFrom light pink to almost red
  • White SapphireClear or white sapphires have no impurities and so are completely colorless
  • Black SapphireBlack or very dark blues or grays
  • Fancy SapphireThe yellow, orange, green, pink, purple, hues
  • Padparadscha SapphireSalmon or peach colored hues, named after the color of a particular lotus flower
  • Star SapphireDisplay star beams or rays across the surface of a cabochon-cut sapphire.
  • Color-change SapphireColor changing when viewed under different light sources

Sapphires are divided into yellow sapphires, green sapphires and so on although blue sapphires tend to be just referred to as 'sapphires' and sometimes the colored versions are just called fancy sapphires.

There are Star Sapphires so called because of the rutile inclusions which display star-like inclusions on the surface of a cabochon cut sapphire. Particularly colored sapphires in a salmon or sunset hue can be called Padparadscha Sapphires and are exceptionally rare. Some sapphires can change color in different lighting conditions and are called color-change sapphires.

What is the spiritual meaning of Sapphire?

When discussing the spiritual meaning of sapphire there are a couple of things to bear in mind. Firstly ancient scholars and mystics did not have all the modern day equipment we use today to classify gemstones. It is highly likely that what is sometimes identified in manuscripts and texts in history as sapphires may well have been lapis lazuli or another venerated blue gemstone. This does not denigrate either the mystics or the crystals in question but is worth considering.

Secondly sapphires come in a number of different colors and these colors will affect different aspects of spiritual and physical well-being.

The traditional blue sapphire represents loyalty, wisdom, truth, sincerity and faithfulness both in religious matters and in personal relationships which is why they make such popular engagement rings.

The individual colors can have some additional benefits.

Orange sapphires can be very empowering for creative people, writers, singers, painters, potters and poets. They will fire up your vitality, increase your sexual energy and virility and enhance your fertility.

Just along the color spectrum, yellow sapphires share some of the orange sapphire attributes, bringing the power of the sun into your life as well as wisdom, prosperity and positivity.

Green sapphires are the traveler's stone, keeping you safe on journeys and will open your mind to the beauties of the world around you.

Black sapphires are the working man's stone whether you are seeking a job, planning a change of career or hoping for a promotion this is your talisman.

White or colorless sapphires are the gemstones of spiritual power, connecting us to higher divinities and guides. It will help you overcome any feelings of losing faith.

Purple sapphires are perfect for those facing a forced lifestyle change. Perhaps a recent healthy scare has made you realize that a new fitness regime is needed, purple sapphires will give you the determination to stick to your plan.

The colors of sapphires are caused by mineral impurities within the stone, for example titanium and iron create the blue in blue sapphires. The presence of these mineral elements can also influence a person spiritually. Iron strengthens and energizes the body, titanium calms stress and anxiety and chromium encourages independence.

Historically, sapphires are known as gems of wisdom and prophecy, a sign of divine support and an aid in resisting black magic and psychic attack. It would safeguard honor and chastity, uncover fraud and betrayal and offer protection against plague, poison and disease. However as a righteous gemstone it would become dull if possessed by an irreligious or intemperate person.

Sapphires and the Chakras

Chakra meditation

Chakras are the energy centers in your body also known as Qi or Prana. There are seven Chakras throughout the body each influencing a particular physical, emotional or mental state and each has an associated color. The seven chakras are as follows, Crown linked with the color purple, Third Eye (indigo), Throat (blue), Heart (green), Solar Plexus (yellow), Sacred (orange) and Root (red). Depending on which color is most dominant in your sapphire gemstone will determine which chakra it will have most influence on.

Traditionally Sapphire has most influence on the Throat and Third Eye chakras because the gems are predominantly and famously blue. Physically they can heal the voice and throat area and spiritually open lines of communication or heal broken connections.

Health benefits of Sapphire

Sapphires are an all powerful gemstone so your whole physical being will benefit from its presence but some parts are particularly influenced. Being so interlinked with the Throat chakra means any problems around the neck and throat area including swollen glands and thyroid disease can be attended to as well as communication issues which may include the vocal chords and voice box. Eye infections and even poor eyesight can be improved using sapphires.

Emotionally Sapphire Crystals can be a great benefit freeing us from negative emotions and remedying neurosis, depression, and even psychotic episodes, they lighten our mood and restore a sense of emotional balance.

We are often asked how to use gemstones for spiritual or health benefits and while we are certainly not experts in this field we have gained some experience and knowledge. Of course wearing the gemstone as a piece of jewelry is the easiest way for the crystal to influence your body. Certain stones and colors have connection to different parts of the body, for example sapphires are connected to the throat chakra and third eye chakra so a pendant or necklace or even earrings would be ideal.

Alternatively they can be placed in your purse or pocket and used as a touchstone throughout the day. Hold crystals or place them in your lap while meditating. Easiest of all, just lay down with crystals on your body, lined up with the chakra points if possible. Put them in the bath (check the particular stone is impervious to water). Decorate your home with crystals, certain crystals boost the working environment so keep them on your desk, other help you relax so keep them in the lounge or living room.

Sapphires can be discharged and charged at the same time using sea salt. The salt can be mixed with water or used dry. When using salt water, mix a tablespoon of sea salt in a glass of cold water, place the sapphires in the water and soak overnight. If using dry salt bury the gemstones in the salt and leave overnight.

Sapphire Price

Just a few years ago a 392 carat blue sapphire was sold for $17 million, the most expensive sapphire ever sold. In sapphires we are talking about one of the premium four gemstones in the world, only diamonds, emeralds and rubies can compete, and the price reflects this.

Sapphire Price List

Color / Type Weight range Price range / USD
Blue 1ct + $100 - $1,500/ct
Blue 2ct + $300 - $3,000/ct
Pink 1ct + $150 - $800/ct
Pink 2ct + $500 - $3,000/ct
Fancy Colored 1ct + $20 - $800/ct
Fancy Colored 2ct + $70 - $2,000/ct
Untreated 1ct + $400 - $10,000/ct
Star (untreated) 1ct + $30 - $800/ct
Black Star (treated) 1ct + $10 - 40/ct
Blue Star (treated) 1ct + $10 - 40/ct

The famed Kashmir Blue Sapphires are the most valuable of all sapphires and are only getting more expensive every year. They can fetch anything from $5000 to $50,000 per carat and since the mines are situated in a war zone contested over by India and Pakistan and the mines themselves are nearly exhausted the price can only go up.

Padparadscha Sapphires can approach the prices of Kashmir Sapphires, on occasion reaching $12,000 per carat. The strictest experts say they can only come from Sri Lanka but similar colored stones can be found in Tanzania and Madagascar, however it is the Sri Lankan gems that reach top dollar.

What sets the price of a sapphire? With all gemstones we need to consider the 4 Cs, color, clarity, cut and carat when we are trying to gauge the price of a gem. Except for diamonds, it is generally color that really sets the price.

Whichever the color may be, we have to assess three important factors, the hue, tone and saturation of the gemstone. The hue is the actual color of the gem as well as any underlying color, the tone is how light or dark the gem appears and the saturation is vividness or intensity of the color.

Sapphires come in quite a few colors but blue is the most valuable. Let us assess a perfect blue sapphire. The desired hue would be a deep cornflower blue to a slightly violet blue and no green undertone. The tone would be medium to dark but not so dark as to affect the brightness of the blue and the saturation would be powerfully vivid and even throughout. Other colored sapphires would follow a similar format in pricing, too.

Second to color in sapphires is clarity, this refers to the flaws or inclusions found in a gemstone. Generally the clearer the stone the more valuable it is. Sapphires, like their illustrious cousins Ruby and Emerald, are unlikely to be found without any inclusions, indeed completely flawless sapphire would be suspected of being synthetic or heavily treated. Some inclusions in sapphires can actually enhance the gemstone, for example some Kashmir Sapphires take on velvety appearance due to silk-like inclusions which is much appreciated. Star Sapphires are the result of rutile inclusions aligned in a particular pattern to form what looks like the beams of a star.

Then we have cut, how the sapphire is shaped or faceted from the rough rock dug from the ground or mine. The cut of a sapphire affects the price in the sense that a great cut will enhance the gemstones natural beauty while a bad cut can ruin a lovely stone. Sapphires are cut to minimize inclusions and maximize the color and luster. A lighter toned gem may be cut deeper to give it more body while a darker stone may be shallower to allow more light to shine through. The most common shapes are oval, round, cushion and emerald, while star sapphires are cut in cabochons or dome shapes to best show off the star shape display. Whichever cut is chosen the edges should be symmetrical and even and the top of the stone or the 'table' should be centered neatly. As you turn and tilt the gemstone it should flash with color and brilliance.

In addition, sapphires can display two colors depending on the angle at which they are viewed. The stone could look deep blue from one angle and a bit greenish blue from another, the cutter gets most value from the deep blue being the top or dominant color.

Finally, the size or carat weight of the gemstone. Sapphires are rare gems and larger sized stones of more than 5 carats are rarer still. A top quality 1 - 2 carat sapphire could sell for about $800 to $1200 per carat but a 3 - 4 carat sapphire would be a higher price per carat, $1600 - $2000 because of the rarity factor. As sapphires get bigger and bigger the price is whatever someone is willing to pay!

Treatments of sapphires will affect the price dramatically. An untreated, vividly colored large sapphire is almost priceless and any untreated sapphire gemstone with a good color will demand a very high price. Synthetic sapphires made in the laboratory are of the highest quality but are never as well-valued as natural sapphires, treated or untreated.

How much is a 1 carat Sapphire?

One of the most used terms when buying and selling gemstones is the word 'carat'. Before mechanical scales and units of mass were around old traders used the seeds of a carob tree as unit of weight. Merchants would collect piles of similar sized carob seeds to act as a counterweight on a balance scale. A carob seed is approximately 200 milligrams (0.2 grams) and that is the exact weight of one carat. Of course all carob seeds are not exactly 200 milligrams so you can imagine an old trader in times long past with one set of carob seeds when he was buying and another when he was selling!

See our sapphire price table here

So how much would 1 carat (0.2 grams) of sapphire cost? Price is determined by many factors but let us assume we have a top quality blue colored sapphire in our hand, what is it worth? Sorry to say that it is almost impossible to give an accurate general price, it could be anything from $100 to $1,500 for a single gem and as we have written earlier price per carat goes up with bigger gemstones

Colored gemstones have a wide variety of relative densities, for example a 1 carat sapphire is considerably smaller than a 1 carat diamond while a 1 carat emerald would be quite a bit larger. Because of this, we suggest buying gemstones such as sapphires by physical size, the width in millimeters, rather that carat size, so you know exactly what you are getting. Very generally a 1 carat sapphire would be around 6mm across.

Are Sapphires more expensive than Diamonds?

Sapphire versus Diamond

Sapphires are very rare, considerably rarer than diamonds, and yet diamonds will often be much more expensive.

This is because the supply of diamonds is very carefully controlled - only a small number of supreme quality stones are released each year - and the demand for these diamonds is well cultivated by an excellent marketing campaign. Very occasionally a special sapphire may come onto the market which will be valued more than a diamond.

Sapphire History

Sapphires have been mentioned in history going back to biblical texts and ancient Greek, Persian and Sanskrit writings. Sapphire is referenced several times in Bible scripture, as a decoration on God's throne, as the material upon which the ten commandments were engraved, as a stone of Aaron's breastplate and one of the gemstones set in the foundations of Jerusalem. Ancient Greeks thought sapphires were to be worn for protection and Ancient Persians claimed the sky's blue color was a reflection of a giant sapphire.

Before the age of modern scientists, who could look deeply into sapphires and determine their chemical and mineral make up, it was quite difficult to tell one precious gemstone from another. It was likely that many gems identified as sapphires could have been lapis lazuli, another venerated blue gemstone.

The name sapphire comes via Latin (sapphirus) and Old French (saphir), and is mainly attributed to an Ancient Greek word, sáppheiros, meaning 'blue stone'.

There is also some speculation that the term can be traced back to a Sanskrit word, śanipriya, meaning 'dark-colored stone' or precious to Saturn.

Sri Lanka is the oldest known source of sapphires along with India and Burma (now called Myanmar).

Conquering Buddhists from Northern India arrived in Sri Lanka in 500BC and noticed the colored gemstones in the rivers. They fashioned them into jewelry and bartered them with traders from abroad and the gems worked their way to the marketplaces of Persia and Greece. King Solomon sent precious gems from Sri Lanka to the Queen of Sheba to win her love.

Where are sapphires found?

The Globe

Sri Lanka, India and Myanmar (formally Burma) were ancient sources of sapphires and then there were the famous discoveries in Kashmir in Pakistan. The finest Kashmir and Burmese sapphires display superb color and clarity without any heat treatment. In recent times, limited resources in Burma have led miners to focus on more plentiful Burmese ruby.

Later Thailand developed as a great place to find sapphires, especially the golden-yellow variety (known as Mekong whiskey) as well as nearby Cambodia and Vietnam. In Africa the usual suspects, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique and Madagascar have found rich deposits of sapphires in their mineral wealthy mountainous regions while Nigeria in west Africa also has some interesting strikes.

As of 2007, Madagascar has been leading the world in sapphire production, though Sri Lanka continues to be the only steady producer of fine quality blue sapphire.

Sri Lanka and Madagascar produce sapphires in a wide range of colors and whilst Sri Lanka has been a known sapphire source for centuries, sapphire deposits in Madagascar were only recently discovered in 1998.

In the new world, Australia has enormous quantities of sapphire, accounting for 70% of the world's blue sapphire production and Montana in the United States produces some excellent untreated blue gems.

A large portion of sapphires from around the world are cut and processed in Chanthaburi, Thailand. Along with Kanchanaburi and Trat, Chanthaburi was once one of main sources for Thai sapphire. Sapphire mining in Chanthaburi is mostly finished now, though there are a few small private mining locations scattered throughout the province.

How are Sapphires formed?

Rock Cycle

Sapphire is made from densely packed mineral made of aluminum and oxygen atoms called corundum that has been under immense pressure and intense heat beneath the earth's surface for millions of years. The heat and pressure turn this mineral into liquid which seeps into cracks in igneous or metamorphic rocks. As the liquid cools it turns into crystals which are usually colorless.

However minute traces (often as little as 1%) of other minerals can alter the corundum from colorless into stunning reds, pinks, yellows and blues. If the trace element is iron and titanium we get the blue colored sapphires if the trace mineral is chromium then the corundum turns red and gives us rubies. The other colors found in sapphires are caused by various mixes and quantities of titanium, iron and chromium.

The sapphire and ruby crystals that form inside these rocks are usually quite small and getting them out of these rocks is an expensive and long process that often results in broken crystals. Luckily the corundum is even harder and the gems have been working their way free through weathering and erosion for millions of years. Most gems are mined from the sediments of mountain streams that have carried these liberated gemstones far from their place of birth.

Are there synthetic Sapphires?

As sapphires are one of the most valuable and sought after gemstones it should not be surprising that someone has synthesized them. There are two methods to 'grow' sapphires in the lab, a melt process where aluminum oxide is melted with other minerals added to create colors before it hardens into a crystal. This process, also called flame fusion, was developed at the beginning of the 20th Century by Auguste Verneuil, a French chemist and within a few years was producing 1000kgs of synthetic corundum a year.

Then there is the solution process where a seed crystal is subjected to heat and pressure and grows just like the real thing but just much more quickly. Laboratories can produce sapphires a lot quicker than nature, produce uniform gemstones and combine minerals that do not occur in nature so long as the fact they are man-made is disclosed there should be no issues.

Can Sapphires be treated?

In a sense all gemstones are treated in one way or another, when rough rocks are mined from the earth they need to be cut and polished for their beauty to be appreciated. However there are further treatments which may or may not enhance their appearance such as color boosting, heating, painting, dying, resins and waxes, oiling or any application of chemicals. Opinions may differ on the efficacy and ethics of such treatments but no doubt all information must be passed onto any potential buyers.

It is estimated that about 90% of all sapphires sold as gemstones are heat treated in one way or another to make them presentable for sale to the gemstone market. The heat treatment of sapphires is an age old process, writing at least 1000 years old describe heating gemstones using a blowpipe to reach temperatures in excess of 1100 degrees centigrade. Without this treatment being available sapphire gems would be considerably rarer and more expensive.

This heat treatment has moved on somewhat from blowpipes, crucibles and open fires (although this can still be seen in villages around the world's mining areas) into the laboratories of gemstone processors. Now temperature controlled ovens can treat sapphires to precise temperatures for an exact number of minutes to get the best possible results. An example of this in action is the gueda sapphires of Sri Lanka. Gueda sapphires are cloudy and dull and pretty much worthless as anything other than a coating for sand paper but it was discovered that when heated these stones turned into gorgeous cornflower blue sapphires. The gemstones did not have any chemicals added or dyes just the natural inclusions within the stone were melted away to produce the new color and improved clarity.

This traditional heat treatment is pretty much accepted around the world of gems and not thought of as underhand in any way especially as there is nothing added to the sapphire other than heat and it is the natural attributes of the gemstone that creates it final clarity and color.

Then we have more controversial treatments. These treatments may result in a good looking gemstone but feel a little more 'man-made' than just heating. Titanium lattice diffusion which causes a change of color in the sapphire but only to just below the surface and Flux healing where cracked stones can be healed by adding minerals or solvents during the heating process. Another diffusion method is the adding of beryllium during heating which can force the minerals into the gemstone causing color change and heal fissures and cracks.

These are the basic treatments carried out on sapphire gemstones and we at GemSelect always reveal what type of treatment, if any, the stones may have had.

What jewelry is Sapphire suitable for?

Sapphire Jewelry designs by GemSelect

Sapphire has a rating of 9 on Mohs hardness scale along with its sister gem, ruby. This hardness means that sapphires can be used for any type of jewelry and can be worn everyday without any worries about chipping, scratching or cracking. With their striking beauty and great value they make a perfect rival to the diamond which is just above it on Mohs scale with a rating of 10.
To learn more about the Mohs hardness scale please read our article here

Sapphires can be cut to just about any shape you desire and worn on any part of the body so their only limitations are your budget and your imagination. The most common shapes are ovals and cushions but cutters will shape the gemstones to maximize and individual stone's sparkle and color so any shape is possible. One thing to think about is the type of alloy that would best match your sapphire gemstone. For a modern, chic appearance, white gold or platinum makes a great choice but if you looking for a classic, vintage look, pick rose or yellow gold. With other colors in sapphire available there should be no problem matching your favorite alloy.

Since Princess Diana wore a sapphire engagement ring (since passed on to Duchess of Cambridge, the future Queen of England) these blue gems have become more and more popular. They are certainly strong enough to handle everyday wear but need not be confined to just rings as they would make any type of jewelry.

Did you know? Interesting facts about Sapphires.

  • The largest faceted sapphire in the world is the Blue Giant of the Orient

    This is an enormous 486.52 carats sapphire which was unearthed in Sri Lanka. Discovered in 1907, the rough gem weighed more than 600 carats.

  • The biggest star sapphire ever is the Star of Adam

    The Star of Adam was found in Sri Lanka in 2016. A giant blue sapphire it weighs over 1400 carats and may be worth up to $300 million.

  • The greatest sapphire over all is 61,500 carats

    The finished carved stone sold recently for $50 million. The gem was discovered in Madagascar and was carved by Alessio Boschi depicting mankind completing some of his greatest achievements, the Pyramids, the Great Wall, and some of its most famous icons, Da Vinci, Confucius, Einstein and many more.

  • The sapphire is the traditional gemstone gift for a 5th and 45th wedding anniversary, giving you two opportunities to buy one for the love of your life.
  • The most famous ring in the world

    Princess Diana chose a 12 carat oval sapphire engagement ring after future King of England, Charles proposed to her. The blue sapphire was Diana's favorite gemstone, and she was known to wear a lot of blue to complement her blue eyes. The beautiful gemstone reappeared when Prince William used the same ring to propose to Kate Middleton in November 2010.

  • The word sapphire comes from the Greek word 'sappheiros' which was originally referred to another blue gemstone, Lapis Lazuli.
  • Shah Jahan had the Taj Mahal built for his wife and he also commissioned the Peacock Throne. It took seven years to build and took its name from the peacocks which stood behind the throne with bright tails made of sapphires.
  • My lucky charm

    The great Oriental traveler, Sir Richard Francis Burton, had a large star sapphire which he referred to as his "talisman," for it always brought him good luck and took it everywhere he went. Amongst his many adventures he survived an attack by 200 Somali warriors and he was the first westerner to enter the forbidden city of Mecca. On his gravestone it is written, "Who seemed to bear a charm 'gainst spear or knife or bullet, now lies silent from all strife'."

  • The sapphire is the birthstone of September so if a loved one celebrates a birthday in that month you will know what to buy this year.

How to care for Sapphires.

Due to sapphire's hardness, they do not require any special care however it is important to protect softer stones from being scratched. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep your sapphires separate from all other gems of different hardness in a fabric-lined compartment of a jewelry box. Individual cloth jewelry bags are also suitable if you have limited space in your box.

Sapphire is durable enough to survive the odd bump or knock on a hard surface; however, you should always take care to avoid such abuse. That is why it is always recommended to remove jewelry before physical activities, especially household cleaning or gardening.

Sapphires can be safely, simply, and effectively cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft brush or cloth, such as a toothbrush. Ultrasonic cleaners may be used to clean sapphires although if you suspect your sapphire has had some sort of fracture filling or cavity filling process do not use an ultrasonic cleaner.

With a gemstone as valuable as a sapphire it may be worth taking your gem or gems to a professional jewelry store for a thorough clean and check-up.

Careful: ultrasonic cleaners can not only cause and exacerbate fractures in gemstones, they can loosen jewelry and cause gems to fall out of their settings. Steam cleaners should not be used to clean sapphire because it should not be subjected to high temperatures.

How do you know if you have a real Sapphire?

Is this gem real?

Obviously a certified gemstone from a reputable dealer is the best approach but this is not always possible when you are out searching for a great gemstone or a bargain! With something as expensive as a sapphire we strongly recommend getting a certification report before you buy unless the stone is from a well respected dealer with a good return policy.

As with all precious gemstone, there is the temptation for unscrupulous dealers to try to pass off synthetic stones or fake stones as the real thing. Sapphires are no different.

We have to look at three things initially when checking on the veracity of the sapphire you are looking at. First what is it? Is it a natural sapphire, a synthetic sapphire or an imitation sapphire? So long as the dealer is honest this information will be readily disclosed.

If the sapphire is labeled as natural we can check a couple of things. First inclusions, a sapphire has grown in the depths of the earth's crust heated, crushed, moved so it will have some flaws. Perhaps these flaws will only be visible under magnification but if it is a flawless gemstone you could be looking at a synthetic gem or even a piece of glass.

Scratch it. A sapphire is very hard, only a diamond is harder amongst well known gems, so cannot be scratched by a knife, a key, or your fingernail. If it does get scratched this easily it is not a sapphire. Check with the owner before waving knives or keys around!

Some imitation sapphires are just as simple as dyed glass or dyed crystal. Rub the prospective sapphire on a hard but smooth surface and see if it leaves a streak of blue color behind. This will indicate a fake.

Synthetic or natural. Synthetic sapphires created in a laboratory have all the attributes of a real gemstone, the hardness, molecular and chemical make-up and visual characteristics so it can be very difficult to differentiate between the two and really only an experienced gemologist can tell the difference. Lab produced gems tend to be internally flawless under magnification and be very evenly colored so this can be a clue.

Price as a guide. Sapphires are rare precious gemstones so the price should reflect this. If you see a prime example at a price too good to be true, it probably isn't true, so avoid buying such 'bargains'.

This is not a complete guide on how to spot a fake gemstone but I hope it helps.

At GemSelect, we currently offer brief identification reports from your choice of two well-respected independent gemological laboratories, The Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS) and Burapha Gemological Laboratory (BGL Lab).

What is so special about a Sapphire?

The sapphire is one of the original 4 precious gemstones along with diamond, emerald and ruby, all others were just semi-precious.

Even though we do not use such erroneous terms very much anymore it is still an indication of the esteem with which sapphires are held. If you own a sapphire you have in your hand one of the world's rarest natural objects, formed by millions of years of heat and pressure then faceted by man into a work of art. The sapphire is the most expensive blue gemstone (not counting the almost priceless and ridiculously rare blue diamond) coveted by the rich and royal for millennia and has outstanding hardness, luster and color.

Can Sapphire change color?

Yes! Some gemstones show a distinct or dramatic change in color under different light sources and an exceptionally rare fancy form of corundum is the color-change sapphire. The most common color change is from blue when viewed from daylight to purple under incandescent lighting but yellow, green and pink hues have been seen depending on the mineral make-up of the gemstone.

Color-change sapphires typically occur with excellent transparency and with very few inclusions, so they are often eye-clean. The prices will depend on the usual clarity, size and color intensity plus the degree of color change.

How can you tell a good quality Sapphire?

Buy from a respected gemstone dealer. That is the best way to know you are getting a good quality gemstone. Make sure they have a great return policy so you can get the gem checked professionally for yourself and it is what you expected and you can return it if you want to.

We have looked at the 4Cs for checking the quality of a sapphire, seen the best known sources of good gemstones, discovered the treatments that sapphires receive and learned a little about checking for genuine gemstones. If we assume (and it is quite a big assumption) that what the seller discloses about the sapphires is all true (not all gem traders are as scrupulous as GemSelect) then how do we decide what makes a good sapphire? Do you like the look of it? Does the color match your skin tone? Is it suitable for the piece of jewelry you would like made? Is it the right size and shape for your requirements? When you can answer these questions you will know if the sapphire is right for you.

Sapphire - Gemological Properties

Chemical Formula:

Al2O3, Aluminum oxide

Crystal Structure:

Trigonal, double pointed, barrel-shaped, hexagonal pyramids, tabloid shaped

Color:

Blue, colorless, pink, orange, yellow, green, purple, black

Hardness:

9.00 on the Mohs scale

Refractive Index:

1.762 - 1.788

Density:

3.95 to 4.03

Cleavage:

None

Transparency:

Transparent to opaque

Double Refraction or Birefringence:

0.008

Luster:

Vitreous

Fluorescence:

Blue: none; colorless: orange-yellow, violet

  • First Published: November-21-2019
  • Last Updated: November-21-2019
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    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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