Sapphire

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All about Sapphire

The most valuable colours of Sapphire are Cornflower Blue and Kashmir Sapphires. An extremely rare and valuable type of sapphire is called the Padparadschah. This is because of its very rare, orange and pink combination. Colour changing sapphire are not your ordinary Sapphire as they are blue in natural light and turn violet in artificial light. This effect is also seen Alexandrite. Yellow and pink Sapphires have recently become very popular. Sapphire with a color other than blue is often called a “fancy” in the gem trade.

Sapphire are well known to have minor inclusions of tiny slender Rutile needles. When present, these inclusions decrease the transparency of a stone and are known as silk. When these inclusions are in dense, parallel groupings, these inclusions can actually enhance the stone when polished causing them to exhibit asterism. Blue Sapphire exhibiting asterism are known as “Star Sapphire”. Star Sapphires exist in six rays stars, though twelve ray stars are also known.

Sapphire is pleochroic – displaying a lighter and more intense colour when viewed at different angles. Pleochroic Sapphire is blue when viewed at one angle and purple at a different angle. Color zoning develops from growth layers that build up during the formation of stone. This is what accounts for certain Sapphire having a lighter and darker colours in different parts of the crystal.

Sapphire is a tough and durable gem, and the only natural gemstone that is more durable then Sapphire is a Diamond. Although this might be the case it is still subject to chipping and fracturing if handled roughly. Care should be taken to ensure it is properly handled.

Sapphire were firsty synthesized in 1902 through a process called Verneuil process. Only experts can distinguish between a natural and synthetic sapphire.

Uses

Sapphires are one of the most popular gemstones, and primarily used in jewelry. Fine colored Sapphire with a deep blue color and excellent transparency can reach several thousands of dollars a carat. Blue is the most popular but yellow, pink, orange are starting to become popular.

Sapphires are generally used in all forms of jewelry, including bracelets, necklaces, rings, and earings. It is used as both a centrepiece gemstone in pendants and rings, as well as secondary stone to complement other gemstones such as Diamond.

Varieties

  • Yellow Sapphire
  • Pink Sapphire
  • White Sapphire
  • Green Sapphire
  • Purple Sapphire
  • Orange Sapphire
  • Black Sapphire
  • Color-Change Sapphire – Sapphire that exhibit a different color in natural and artificial light
  • Cornflower Blue Sapphire
  • Fancy Sapphire
  • Kashmir Sapphire
  • Padparadschah
  • Star Sapphire

False Names

  • Brazilian Sapphire – Blue Tourmaline or Blue Topaz
  • Gold Sapphire – Lapis Lazuli with shiny Pyrite sprinkles
  • Hope Sapphire – Synthetic Blue Spinel
  • Lux Sapphire – Iolite
  • Lynx Sapphire – Iolite
  • Sapphire Quartz – Massive Blue Quartz or Chalcedony
  • Sapphire Spinel - Blue Spinel
  • Water Sapphire – Iolite
  • Uralian Sapphire – Blue Tuormaline
  • Sapphire Treatments and Enhancements

Sapphire are commonly heat treated to intensify the blue colour, as well as remove inclusions to improve clarity. It is standard industry practice to heat treat Sapphire gemstones, and most Sapphires used as gemstones have been heat treated. Sapphire with a natural, unheated color is much more valuable than the heat treated material, and gemstones of good quality can be extremely costly. Sapphires are occasionally coloured through diffusion treatment, which artificially alters the colour of the original gemstone. Diffused Sapphire color include deep blue, bright yellow, bright orange and orange-red. This is accomplished by heat treating a stone in beryllium metal overlay. Diffused Sapphire are fairly reasonably priced despite their desirable colour. Colour treatment should be fully disclosed to the buyer, and Sapphire should only bought from reputable dealers.

Sapphire Sources

Sources include Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Cambodia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Australia, and the U.S. (Montana). The Kashmir region of India/Pakistan was famous for its Kashmir-blue Sapphire, but little material comes from their today.