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Sapphire Buying Guide
When buying a sapphire, the most important thing to be considered is color. Color is the single most important factor in determining the value or preciousness of a sapphire. In case of a sapphire the color of is more important than its clarity. Sapphires are rarely clean and even very expensive stones can be slightly included. Subtle differences in color can make great variations in valuations of fine sapphires. Fine gemstones of good color and clarity are always rare and valuable. Highly saturated medium or medium dark tones are best. Sapphires which are too dark or too light are worth considerably less.
The rich history and intense color of sapphires is what makes these gemstones so desirable. Aptly described as the gemstone of the heavens, these stones exude a heady blue hue. Sapphires are stones of the apocalypse, and ancient belief was that the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written, were actually sapphire. Kings used sapphires around their necks as a powerful defense from harm. They wore sapphires to ward all evil and gain divine favors, the Greeks dedicated the stone to the chief God - Zeus. Their priests sought help of these stones to decipher the Oracles. They were believed to attract divine favor and ensure protection from evil. In the 12th Century, sapphire was known as the most appropriate stone for ecclesiastical rings. The Museum of Natural History in New York is home to the one of the most notorious sapphires in the world, the "Star of India," a sapphire of 563 carats. The British Crown Jewels are known for blue Sapphires, the hallmark of wise rulers.
The name Sapphire comes from various sources. The Persian 'safir' means beloved of Saturn. It is disputed, but there is a theory that English word sapphire derives from Hebrew sapir(via Greek sapiros). Then there is the Latin word "Sapphirus", which means blue. The beautiful sapphire symbolizes loyalty and is associated with the Goddess of Love - Venus. It was a belief that if an unfaithful lover wore this gem, it's luster would dim. Sapphires are said to have a powerful and transformative energy that may work quickly and drastically. They are believed to help the wearer connect to the universe, as in, they can open your spiritual self to the powers of the universe.
Although the most popular and known color of sapphire happens to be blue, that ranges between vivid medium dark violet to purplish blue; this gemstone comes in almost all other shades like yellow, orange, white, pink and purple.
Origin of Sapphire
Depending on where on earth the sapphire has been mined from, affects its value enormously. Most sapphires come from Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. The pinkish orange sapphire, 'Padparadscha' is found in Sri Lanka alone. Kashmir has been known to produce some of the most valuable and magnificent sapphires that are intense blue in color with a hint of violet. Experts opine that the lavish color of Kashmir sapphire does not change hue under artificial light. Australia is another significant source of sapphires that are particularly deep velvety blue and dark inky in appearance. Sapphires from Burma (Myanmar) come close to Kashmir sapphires in color tones. Some more recently discovered sources of sapphires are Madagascar, US (Gem Mountain and Montana), Brazil, Tanzania and Cambodia.
- Ceylon Sapphire | Blue Sapphire from Kanchanaburi | Determining Origins Of Sapphire | Gemstone Origins
Sapphire Treatment & Enhancements
It is a norm in the gem trade for almost all gems to undergo some form of treatment or the other. In fact, literary evidences of treatments of gems are found as far back as Pliny the Elder(23-79 AD). Clarity and color of a sapphire improve drastically with heat treatment. Due to the permanent nature of this treatment the gemstones do not alter in quality, only in appearance.
The procedure is to heat the sapphires in air at very high temperatures for several hours, or by heating in a nitrogen-deficient atmosphere oven for several days. Upon heating, the stone becomes bluer in color but loses some of the silk. When high heat temperatures are used, the stone loses all of the silk and becomes clear under magnification.
There are other controversial treatments that some gems in the industry undergo, but at Angara we have the policy of apprising our customers of what they are buying, so we don't deal in such gemstones. All treatments at Angara are of a permanent nature.
Sapphire Buying Tips
Blue sapphires are evaluated based upon the purity of their primary hue. Purple, violet and green are the normal secondary hues found in blue sapphires. Violet and purple can contribute to the overall beauty of the color, while green is considered a negative. Blue sapphires with no more than 15% violet or purple are generally said to be of fine quality. Blue sapphires with any amount of green as a secondary hue are not considered to be fine quality. Highly saturated medium or medium dark tones are the best. Sapphires that fall in the color category of too dark or too light are not very prized.
Yellow and green sapphires are also commonly found. Pink sapphires deepen in color as the quantity of chromium increases. The deeper the pink color the higher their monetary value as long as the color is going towards the red of rubies.
A rare variety of sapphire, known as color change sapphire, exhibits different colors in different light. Color change sapphires are blue in outdoor light and purple when viewed in incandescent indoor light; they may also be pink in daylight to greenish under fluorescent light. Some stones shift color well and others only partially, in that some stones go from blue to bluish purple.
Sapphires are rarely clean and more often than not come accompanied with inclusions. Even highly valuable sapphires happen to be included. The value of sapphire depends on its color more and very minor variations can alter its worth considerably. The ideal color of sapphire would be vivid, pure and highly saturated with no tinge of gray or brown. There would be some inclusions and complete absences of these make a gem suspect.
To maintain the luster and sheen of sapphires, it is important to clean them on a regular basis. The best way to do this would be to use warm soapy water. Follow with a soft brush scrubbing. An occasional cleaning with a professional jeweler is also required. The important aspect is regularity.
Sapphire in Jewelry
The best thing about sapphires is that they are the hardest material next to diamonds. Therefore, they go quite well with almost any style of jewelry. This hardness makes them ideal for daily wear. Since sapphires come in a variety of colors and are available from affordable to exclusive, they fit into every class. Meant for daily wear or tucked away for some special occasion, sapphires are as wonderful as evening jewelry as they are for day wear. These gemstones also look impressive as engagement rings or right hand rings. Almost all shapes and cuts complement sapphires.
Lab Created Sapphire
The more affordable alternative these days, lab created sapphires are giving a stiff competition to natural sapphires. Labs created sapphires are identical to natural sapphires, except that they are without the flaws that occur in the latter. The chemical composition of both is essentially the same. Lab created, (as the name suggests) is a process in which the gem is created through man-made processes. The deep earth conditions are simulated in a laboratory with certain elements, and it results in these sparkling gems. In keeping with FTC guidelines, at Angara we disclose all lab created specimens.
Sapphires of the Famous
- Joan Crawford loved sapphires so much the press called them "Joan Blue."
- Jean Harlow also collected sapphires: her engagement ring from William Powell was a 150 carat cabochon sapphire.
- Ivana Trump Mazzucchelli has a fantastic engagement ring set with a Kashmir sapphire from a London jeweler.
Sapphire is the birthstone for those born in September and the astrological stone for the zodiac sign Libra. Sapphire also happens to be an ideal gift for the 5th and 45th wedding anniversary.
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