Can I afford a blue sapphire?
The simple answer is: Yes you can!
The more detailed answer is: It depends on the size, color, clarity, cut, carat weight origin...
Hinging on all or some of the attributes above, the prices can range from a few dollars to several thousands of dollars a piece
A blue sapphire is possibly the most attractive gemstone available. A rich velvety cornflower blue of such beauty it is no wonder that they have captured hearts for thousands of years and feature in the engagements rings of the wealthy and crown jewels of royalty.
Princess Kate’s 12 carat blue sapphire engagement ring is said to be worth $500,000 and is certainly a stunning version of this iconic gemstone.
More and more people are moving away from diamonds and buying more interesting colored gemstones for engagement rings but is a sapphire a realistic prospect for your budget?
A large azure sapphire – often referred to a Kashmir Blue will always be expensive but here are a few tips to finding more affordable gemstones.
Blue Sapphire - Color Range
As mentioned above, Kashmir Blue sapphires command the highest prices and have a color that can be described as deep royal blue with a velvety appearance.
Sapphires come in a wide range of blue colors and even though intensely saturated blues are the most valued some lighter or darker versions can be gorgeous gemstones with a lower price tag.
A light blue sapphire may be described as pastel blue or baby blue and as we move up the scale a bit we find cornflower blue and peacock blue. On the darker side we have twilight and midnight blue. Sapphires have a stunning range of blue hues and I am sure you will find at least one you will love.
One carat sapphires start from as low as $40.00.
Blue Sapphire - Size Options
Large blue sapphires are very rare and thus are very expensive.
Sapphires are usually sold by carat weight but this can be misleading in a couple of ways. It could be cut in such a fashion that makes it a larger carat size but is ‘bottom heavy’, with most of the weight at the base of the gemstone where it won’t be seen.
Ignore the carat weight, just find out the dimensions (say 7mm x 5mm x 4mm) and you will know exactly what you are getting.
Smaller blue sapphires are a bit more easily found and therefore a bit more inexpensive and even a one carat sapphire can be an impressive sight.
You can go smaller still, we have a wide array of sapphire lots – petite gemstones beginning at a little over 1mm in diameter of matching color and size– starting at around a dollar a piece. These are ideal for side stones or channel settings.
Advantage of buying Loose Blue Sapphires
Sapphires bought in jewelry stores can look magnificent but suffer on a couple of points. The choice is usually limited as a large stock of set sapphires is very expensive for the jeweler to maintain and there is usually a large 'mark-up' on the price of the gemstone.
Once set into an item of jewelry, it can be difficult to assess the gemstone's true quality. Blemishes or imperfections can easily be concealed by a well-placed prong or bezel. When you buy a loose blue sapphire, nothing is hidden from the eye.
Buying a loose sapphire can also save a fortune and the savings can be used in having your own unique custom designed jewelry made by a local craftsman.
Blue Sapphire Treatments
A high quality totally untreated blue sapphire is almost unheard of these days and those that can be found are incredibly expensive.
Ever since they were first used by man, these gemstones were found to be much improved by heating but modern techniques have taken this process a lot further. Here are a few of the most common treatments:
- Heat treatment - This can include a simple one-off session in a furnace to multiple sessions for days, weeks or even months. The temperatures can range from 400 degrees to 1800 degrees.
- Beryllium Treatment - This is a heat treatment with the addition of beryllium elements which can penetrate the Sapphire's structure and improve the color deep within the gemstone.
- Surface Diffusion - Another heat treatment which also coats the surface of the sapphire to improve the color. It does not penetrate the gemstone as much as other heat treatments so future cutting or polishing can be a problem.
- Fissure Filling - Surface cracks are filled with a cobalt rich glass.
All these treatments are meant to improve the quality of blue sapphires and make them more affordable. We do not have a problem with treatments so long as they are fully disclosed to the customer.
If any of our gemstones receive any treatments it will be clearly stated. In the world of sapphires, be very wary of anyone claiming to sell untreated gemstones at anything less than thousands of dollars per carat.
Synthetic Blue Sapphires
Blue sapphires can be created in the laboratory. They are made of the same chemicals and minerals as the real thing and it can be quite tough, especially without the proper equipment, to tell the difference.
Synthetic gemstones are not fake as such but in our (biased) opinion lack the authenticity of time.
Natural gemstones have absorbed the movements of the earth's crust, the vibrations from the earthquakes and volcanoes, the energy from the water, minerals, soils and rocks that moved around them as they grew.
However, the sapphires cooked up in the lab are stunningly beautiful and can be found at prices less than a comparable natural gemstone.
Blue Cabochons and Blue Star Sapphires
Before the techniques of faceting gemstones were developed in the middle-ages, high quality stones would be cut and polished into a dome shape with a flat bottom known as a cabochon.
These days this process is usually reserved for opaque and translucent gemstones or for jewelry designers looking for an antique or unique look.
Many blue sapphires, especially those displaying the star phenomenon, are still cut in this fashion and make an interesting and very affordable alternative to the usual shapes.
Blue Sapphire cabochons are a very affordable way of bringing sapphires into your life, not only are they relatively inexpensive but can make very interesting jewelry items with a primitive or retro look.
Completely natural and untreated blue star sapphires are incredibly rare and much sought after – think Star of India, housed in the American Museum of Natural History and valued as 'priceless'. Various treatments have allowed this fascinating gemstone to become much more available.
Still think sapphires are out of your price range?
Take a look at our huge selection - you may be surprised.
- First Published: November-12-2020
- Last Updated: November-12-2020
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