The Sapphire Buying Guide

I love Sapphires, they are one of the gemstones that has always fascinated me and luckily I am not the only one. Sapphires are one of the most in demand gemstones in the world and their popularity never really decreases and that is why I wanted to make this post. I wanted to share some of my tips that I have gained from years of not only studying but also buying and selling Sapphires.

What is a Sapphire?

It is always useful to understand a bit about a gemstone before you go and buy one, so here is a little bit of information about Rubies.

  • Sapphires are part of the Corundum family and are the sister gemstone of Ruby
  • When think of a Sapphire, most people will think about a Kashmir or Cornflower blue Sapphire and these are generally the most desirable but Sapphires come in nearly every colour, including pink, orange, yellow, purple and green.
  • Sapphires measure 9 on the Mohs hardness scale. This means that Sapphires are more resistant to being chipped or scratched than nearly all other gemstones except for Diamonds.
  • This combination of good durability and hardness means that Sapphires are ideal for use in any type of jewellery and are a great alternative to diamonds for engagement rings.
  • Birthstone Month: September
  • Anniversary: 45th

Blue Sapphire and Diamond Ring from Haywoods Jewellery

If you can, always go and view the Sapphire before you buy it.

In today’s society, a lot of people just order things online and hope that it is ok when the postman delivers it but when it comes to buying gemstones, especially expensive gemstones, I always advise people to go and have a look at the stone before you buy it. This is because it is very difficult to accurately depict a gemstone in a picture and it is happening more and more than companies are either having images re-touched to make the stones look better or using digitally created images. Every gemstone is unique and seeing the stone in person only makes the experience of buying it more enjoyable, also ask the seller to show you the stone under different lighting as LED lights manage to make nearly all gemstones look amazing. The truest light to view a gemstone under is daylight, this can either be natural daylight or using daylight balanced lighting as this give you a better idea of how the stone will look when you are wearing it. If you can you also want to acquire or borrow a 10x jewellers loupe, so that you can take a closer look at the stone.

Quality factors that affect the price of a Sapphire

Clarity

When buying a Sapphire it is always best to go for a ‘loupe clean’ stone, this means that the stone is either free from inclusions or the inclusions cannot be seen using a 10x magnification jewellers loupe. The next best option is to choose a an ‘eye clean’ stone, this is where the stone may have a number of small inclusions that are not visible when looking at the stone with the naked eye. If the stone has noticeable large fractures then it is best to choose another stone as the durability of the stone could be compromised. A Sapphire with good clarity will also be transparent, which means you can see straight through the stone, translucent to opaque stones are generally lower quality examples.

Colour

The most desirable colour in blue Sapphires is either kashmir, royal or cornflower blue and these attract the highest premiums but the colour in blue Sapphires can range from pale to very very dark blue. Like with all stones when choosing them, it is personal preference as to what shade it right for you. 

As I mentioned above, Sapphires come in all different colours and in the western world, pink and purple sapphires are very popular. The rarest of all the colours found in Sapphire is known a padparadscha, which has a pinky orange colour and became very popular after Princess Eugenie engagement ring was set with one. Orange and yellow sapphires are generally more popular in oriental countries.

Treatments

It is estimated that over 90% of the blue Sapphires available in the market have been heat treated. Heat treatment is an industry accepted treatment that has been done for hundreds of years. Why this treatment is so widely accepted is that the results are stable and permanent. Untreated stones with the royal or cornflower blue are very rare, so make sure there is a report to confirm this.

Location

The origin of the Sapphire can have a big impact on the value of the stone. The most desirable of all the locations is Kashmir but only small amounts of fine gem quality Sapphires that came out of the region, this means that a Kashmir Sapphire can be very expensive. The next most desirable locations for blue Sapphires are Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Burma (Myanmar). Even though locations affect the sale price, my advice is to always choose a good quality stone over where it came from.

Lab Reports

A lab report from a reputable lab such as GIA or SSEF will add value to an Sapphire if it states it is a natural and has been treated. A report is especially important when a location or lack of treatment is specified by the seller.

Things to avoid

Fracture Filled Stones

Lower quality stones that are heavily fractured are sometimes filled with a high lead quantity glass to improve this appearance, while the stone may look slightly better it is still a very low quality. In some cases over 50% of the stone is made of glass.

Synthetic Stones

While synthetic stones have their place in the market and in some cases can be preferable to lower quality stones in cheaper jewellery. If you are buying an expensive piece, then a natural Sapphire are the only choice.

Choose the Sapphire that you like

This may sound a bit obvious but when looking at Sapphires but it is the most important thing to remember. There is no point buying one that the person selling the stones says¬†‘is better quality’ or the one your friend or partner thinks is nicer. At the end of the day it is you that is going to be wearing it so choose the one that attracts your eye.

It may not be perfect on paper or in the eyes of experts but if it perfect to you, then that is all that matters.

I hope some of the tips in this post will help you when you go to buy your perfect Sapphire. If you have any questions about buying a Sapphire then please feel free to get in touch.