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Sapphire

Sapphires, with an hardness of 9 on the Moh's scale, topped only by moissanites and diamonds, is one of the most valuable and wearable of all gemstones and an excellent choice for engagement and wedding rings. They are one of my favorite stone to work with since they come in beautiful colors and are durable for all types of jewelry.

 

 

 

Sapphires can be found in a variety of rainbow colors from the most known blues, to greens, yellows, pinks, red, purples and colorless white sapphires. White sapphires are a great alternative to more expensive white diamonds but usually not as sparkly as a diamond, a more understated  gem.

 

Blue is the most thought after color for a sapphire. With colors ranging from inky blue to azure, there is a blue for everyone. The best and most valuable color for a blue sapphire is not the dark inky blue but a mid-toned hue. The  the vibrant “cornflower” hue that is most prized when it comes to blue sapphires.

 

blue sapphire engagement ring

 

I also love Montana Sapphires. Montana sapphires are mined in the state of Montana, USA. They are also known as the "Native American Sapphire". Montana Sapphires are available in every imaginable color of the rainbow but most commonly come in green to blue shades. Large Montana sapphires are a rarity and can demand high prices.

 

green Montana sapphires

Green Fair Trade Montana Sapphires

 

Sapphire – in all its rainbow of colors – is the gem given to those born in September or to those born under the sign of Aquarius.

 

Lab created sapphires:

Lab created sapphires are a great alternative to mined sapphires. Duplicating nature's environment, a lab created sapphire grown over time with identical physical, chemical and optical properties to those found in nature.

Chatham produces the best quality stones. Chatham Created Blue Sapphire display a vibrant vivid blue color of a medium-dark tone. It has been faceted to a very high professional lapidary standard and has a very good make, polish and symmetry. It has a clarity rating of Eye Clean Plus (VS), meaning that it can have very minute inclusions that can only be seen with the aid of a microscope. All Chatham Created gemstones are accompanied by a Letter of Guarantee issue.

 

I also use standard lab created sapphires which are a lower grade than Chatham created gemstones but are more affordable.

 

white sapphire rings

White sapphire rings are available with genuine or lab created sapphires.

 

Major sources for sapphires:

Australia, Cambodia, East Africa, India, Kashmir, Madagascar, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United States  

 

I also use lot's of Fair trade sapphires which include sapphires mined in Montana and Malawi. These sapphire are sourced from Columbia Gem House, a true pioneer in the fair trade gem marketplace. They are Fair trade level 1 stones, the highest level. Fair Trade Gems are closely tracked from mine to market to ensure that every gem has been handled according to these strict protocols. The protocols include environmental protection, fair labor practices, health and safety standards, and a tight chain of custody that eliminates the possibility of treated gems or synthetics being introduced into the supply chain.

Shop for Fair Trade sapphires here.

 

Care for your sapphire:

Sapphires are rated “excellent” for everyday wear. Due to their Moh's hardness of 9 they are very scratch resistant but can be scratched by moissanites and diamonds. Avoid exposure to heat and contact with chemicals.

Clean sapphires regularly as any soap scum residue can quickly makes them look dull and lifeless. To clean, gently scrub with a soft toothbrush and a solution of mild dish soap and warm water, rinse well and dry with a lint free cloth. Or clean in an at-home ultrasonic unit. More jewelry care info is available here.

 

Enhancements:

Most sapphires have been heated to improve their color and sometimes also clarity. Heating is a permanent enhancement, as lasting as the gemstone itself. Heated sapphires can be re-cut and re-polished if needed without affecting it's color hue.

There are also un-enhanced natural sapphires available like this beautiful Columbian sapphire set in a palladium ring.

 

 

Blue Columbian Cushion Sapphire engagement ring

 

Sapphire Grades/ Clarity:

Some sapphire suppliers use a grading that is similar to diamond grading when it comes to clarity/inclusions of the gem (VVS, VS, SI). But  more commonly sapphires are graded on a letter scale (B, A, AA) which takes the color saturation, the stones clarity and  it's cut and polish into consideration. Grading varies a bit from supplier to supplier and whats an A for one could be a B for another. Grading is always somewhat subjective.

Here a letter grading used by one of my main suppliers for many blue sapphires in commercial standard cuts (non-fair trade sapphires only). The grading for fair trade sapphires I offer is slightly different as colors of sapphires vary based on mining location of gemstones and include more fancy colors like yellow, green, teals and various shades of blues.

 

Commercial Commercial quality; variation in color; included
Dark Denim Natural, untreated, medium slightly greenish blue; eye clean to slight imperfections; good cut; good polish
Denim Natural, untreated, slightly greenish blue; eye clean to slight imperfections; good cut; good polish
Light Denim Natural, untreated, light slightly greenish blue; eye clean to slight imperfections; good cut; good polish
A Medium to dark navy, little or no color zoning; slightly included; good brilliance; good cut; good polish
AA Medium navy to royal blue; eye clean; good brilliance; good cut; good polish
AAA Medium navy to royal blue; eye clean; good brilliance; excellent cut; excellent polish
B Dark navy, little or no color zoning; slightly included; good cut
Ceylon-A Medium light to medium blue, little or no color zoning; good cut; good polish
Ceylon-AA Medium to medium dark blue, little or no color zoning; good cut; good polish
Bright Blue Fine Medium navy blue; eye clean; excellent brilliance; excellent machine cut

 

Not all grades are available for each size and cut of blue sapphire.

 

The genuine white sapphires I use are usually graded AA (unless otherwise noted).

AA grading : near colorless (may be very slightly yellow, grey or blue); eye clean; good brilliance; good cut; good polish.

 

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