Sapphires are cut from the mineral corundum and although they are almost always associated as being blue, they can actually come in a variety of natural colours including pink, purple, green, white and black. The only colour of corundum not called sapphire is red, which are rubies.
Sapphires come in a broad range of quality and there are several factors that determine their price. Here are some key points to consider when looking to purchase sapphire jewellery:
Colour – Whether you are looking for a light pink or a deep blue, ideally you want the colour saturated throughout the sapphire evenly. You need to look at the stone from several angles to makes sure that there are no ‘windows’ or ‘striations’ in the colour. The most sought after sapphires have rich saturation of colour whilst remaining transparent.
Clarity – It is not unusual for sapphires to have imperfections – small black spots or marks. Some people find these marks attractive and see them as distinctive, but in general the cleaner the sapphire is to the naked eye, the more expensive it will be.
Origin – Sapphires are only mined from a handful of countries around the world, which have varying availability of quality and volume of stones. As with all precious commodities, a large determining factor on the price is scarcity and this is certainly the case with sapphires. Kashmir sapphires are rarest and therefore the most expensive, followed by Burmese and then Ceylon (Sri Lankan). High quality and beautiful sapphires are also available from Kenya, Madagascar, Thailand, Cambodia and the United States (mined in Montana); usually these stones do not have the prestige price tag of the top three sources.
Heat treatment – Most sapphires are subjected to thermal processing, in which the rough gemstones are exposed to gradual increase and then decrease of extreme heat. This process is to remove a sediment in the corundum, which is referred to as ‘silk’. This brings out the natural colour of the gem and is not considered a synthetic enhancement. Almost all sapphires undergo this treatment and will still be considered ‘natural’ by gemologists. There are some sapphires that do not require this process and are referred to as ‘unheated’. Due to their rarity, there is a premium on these unheated sapphires, although they are very difficult to distinguish from heated sapphires without a trained gemologists eye.
If you have any further questions regarding sapphires, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see sapphires or other gems and go through the selection process in person email us at the same address to book your bespoke consultation!