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The Complete Sapphire & Sapphire Jewelry Buyers Guide

The Complete Sapphire & Sapphire Jewelry Buyers Guide

sapphire jewelry guide

Are you interested in buying sapphires and sapphire diamond jewelry? Do you simply love sapphires, the gem of the sky, and you want to learn all you can? If so, this guide has everything you need to know about sapphires and sapphire jewelry. That way, you can be a smart, informed buyer and get the best price when buying sapphire jewelry or making an investment in sapphire stones. 

sapphire jewelry guide

What is a Sapphire?

A sapphire is a precious gemstone from the corundum mineral family. It is one of the “Big Three Gemstones”, apace with emeralds and rubies – gemstones with thousands of years of admiration and acclaim because of their beauty, rarity, and hardness. 

Sapphires comprise crystals of aluminum oxide, containing impurities (oxides) in traces, which is what gives it a vivid color. 

What color is a sapphire?

Although sapphires are most common in translucent shades of blue, natural sapphires exists in a variety of colors. There are blue, pink, green, yellow, orange, purple, white, black and brown sapphires. What’s more, the color of a sapphire ranges from light to vivid and many contain hues of another color. For example, a blue sapphire may contain hues of green and a pink sapphire may contain hues of orange. It is most noticeable when viewing sapphires through a loupe. 

Orange-Pink sapphires get a special name, they are known as Padparadscha.

sapphire guide

How do natural Sapphires get their color?

Sapphires contain trace amounts of other elements besides aluminum oxide, such as iron, titanium, chromium, vanadium or magnesium. This is what causes sapphires to have a range of colors. 

Blue Sapphires contain parts of titanium and iron. Trace elements of chromium gives a sapphire a pink color. Iron for yellow and green sapphires. Vanadium for purple. 

As for the richness of their color, that is a result of impurities inside the gem. The levels of impurities alter the spectrum of release and absorption of material, and that is what makes the color appear. 

Where are sapphires found?

Sapphires are formed deep within the Earth’s surface over 150 million years by intense pressure and heat, creating deposits that people have found and accessed. 

Sapphire deposits are all over the world. There are sapphires mines in Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Madagascar Thailand, China, Australia, Nepal, Nigeria, Tanzania, Brazil, and Montana and North Carolina (USA). 

The oldest mines are in Sri Lanka, dating back to the 2nd century. The newest sapphire deposit was discovered as recently as the 1990s in Madagascar.

Most blue sapphires come from Australia and Thailand. Madagascar is known for their vivid pink and yellow sapphires, as well as blue sapphires. In Brazil, there are pink, purple and blue sapphires. Tanzania has yellow, orange and blue sapphires. Sri Lanka is the most famous for its superb Padparadscha sapphires and blue sapphires.  Green sapphires come from Montana, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Australia and Brazil.

sapphire buyers guide
5.40ct Ceylon Sapphire and Diamond Cocktail Ring

What color sapphire is the most valuable?

Generally speaking, Kashmir sapphires are the most valuable, as they are considered the finest sapphire specimens in the world. The sapphires found in Kashmir are an exquisite royal blue color. They have a velvety texture due to silk inclusions. The color is immensely stable, even under long exposure to light and heat. Moreover, they are extremely scarce. 

Another incredibly valuable sapphire color is the cornflower blue sapphire. These can be found in Sri Lanka and Madagascar. Kashmir is also famous for its cornflower blue sapphires, but the supply has been depleted, which makes Kashmir cornflower blue sapphires unbelievably valuable.  

Cornflower blue sapphires are one of the most sought after because of their imposing beauty and the fact that they are very rare.

Another valuable sapphire color is the exceptionally scarce orange-pink Padparadscha. 

What is the rarest sapphire color?

Padparadscha sapphires are one of the rarest of sapphire colors. Moreover, they are wonderfully unique in the realm of gems with their beautiful mix of pink and orange. 

Now, although blue sapphires are the most common sapphires in the world, that doesn’t mean they can’t be the rarest. Rarity and scarcity also come down to the superbness of a sapphire, not just the color. The same applies to diamonds. 

Excellent quality blue sapphires are tremendously rare as well. Blue diamonds of magnificent translucence, vividness, clarity, and color are going to be super valuable because they are extremely rare. 

Now, it’s important to understand that many sapphires in the jewelry industry have been treated to give them the beauty that only very few natural sapphires have. When a sapphire is treated, it will not be as valuable as a natural sapphire without treatment. We will explain this bewlo in-depth, as this is a crucial factor when buying sapphire jewelry. 

how to buy sapphire jewelry

Untreated vs Treated Sapphires

First, we’d like to make a clear differentiation between untreated and natural. Natural simply means the sapphire was formed naturally in the earth, not in a lab. A natural sapphire doesn’t mean it wasn’t treated. In fact, around 95% of the sapphires on the market are heat treated.

Sapphire heat treatment is a technique used to enhance the color and improve clarity. It involves placing the sapphires in extremely high temperatures. This is the most common and oldest form of treatment. Good sapphires with slight heat treatment can still fetch up to $3,000 per carat.

Another form of treatment that we want to mention involves chemicals. This kind of treatment alters the color significantly, transforming sapphires that would likely be unusable in the jewelry market into something saleable. Sapphires with this form of treatment are not nearly as valuable as untreated or even heat treated sapphires.

Now, you are probably wondering “how does heat treatment affect the value of a sapphire?” It depends. Heating is an accepted form of treatment for sapphires. Some sapphires need heat treatment to even be desirable, so in that case, they become valuable because of the treatment. However, a fine quality sapphire that has not been treated in any way will add to its rarity and value. 

How can you tell if a sapphire is heat treated?

It is essentially impossible to tell if a sapphire has undergone heat treatment unless you have studied the inclusion of sapphires. Heating sapphires at extremely high temperatures will alter the internal features. So for the trained eye, it is easily noticeable. The point is, you either need to do a lot of studying with some professional gemologists or you need to buy sapphires from a trustworthy gemologist

How can you tell if a sapphire is lab created?

This is pretty easy to tell even with an untrained eye. Essentially all natural sapphires have some small flaws or flecks within the stone. Although lab-created sapphires have the same physical and optical properties as natural sapphires, lab sapphires will almost always be flawless. So, if you see some inclusions or imperfections, chances are it is a real sapphire. 

what to look for when buying sapphire jewelry
18k White Gold 5.65ct Oval Cut Sapphire With Diamonds Cocktail Ring

Sapphires from an Investment Standpoint

Sapphires are one of the best physical investments you can make, just behind gold. Any high quality sapphire will hold its value very well and might be worthy of investment (meaning it will increase in value). Currently, untreated sapphires are incredible investments as they are becoming more and more sought after. If you get your hands on an untreated natural sapphire of fine quality, it can be considered an investment just like gold. Sapphires will always be in demand. 

Out of all the precious gemstones, sapphires are the best for investment, followed by emeralds and rubies. Blue and Padparadscha sapphires are the trendiest gemstones you can buy right now.

Two examples of sapphires value: 

In 2014, a blue sapphire called The Blue Belle of Asia sold for $17 million. It was 392.53 carats. That means it was approximately $43,000 per carat. 

In 2013, a rare velvety blue Kashmir Cushion Cut sapphire sold for $8.3 million, with a price per carat of $175,000. 

Of course, both examples above were untreated sapphires. 

best sapphire jewelry
18k White Gold 3ct Oval Sapphire With Diamond Halo Band

What to Look for When Buying Sapphires and Sapphire Jewelry 

There are a few aspects of a sapphire that we want to consider when buying. They are clarity, color carat weight, cut and proportions. 

After we run through the key points, we will give you some tips on buying sapphire jewelry and what to avoid. 

Choosing & Evaluating Color, Tone & Saturation

Color is hands down the most important factor of a sapphire. 

For blue sapphires, a true blue is the main visual factor that makes up its value. You want it to be as close to true blue as possible. Like the cornflower blue. Generally speaking, blues with other hues or hints of colors are less valuable, and the more visually obvious they are the less valuable they become. That said, blue-green tones are highly sought after and very valuable. So this is a caveat to our point above.

For Padparadscha, the mixture of pink and orange are also very valuable and extremely rare. 

Note: All sapphires have different hues/colors. It is called Pleochroism. The stronger the pleochroism, the lower the value/price.

As for tone, this is really important. Tone plays a huge role in the value of a sapphire. You might think dark is better, but it is not. Dark makes the blue harder to see and less impressive. Conversely, a light tone will make it look washed out and also less impressive. So, the best sapphires have a tone that is in the middle. It will make the color clear and it will have a beautiful translucent appearance.

Saturation is equally as vital for the value of a sapphire. The best quality sapphires have a rich, consistent, vivid color free of gray or brown. 

So, when choosing sapphire jewelry, you want to consider the above as it should affect the price of the piece in question. 

Evaluating Clarity 

Pretty much all natural sapphires have inclusions, which can be seen with a loupe. They are called rutile needles. Clarity is not as vital when it comes sapphire, like it is with diamonds. Typically speaking, if you can not see inclusions with the naked eye, it is a good quality sapphire in terms of clarity. 

Evaluating Cut

Evaluating cut is quite simple and forgiving in the sapphire industry for consumers. There are no set standards, so there is no best cut. However, there are some common cuts for sapphires, which are round, oval and cushion. In any case, choose to your preference.

Now, when it comes to cut, what IS important is proportions. You want to make sure the cut is symmetrical. This will allow for the most beauty and luster. Beyond that, proportions are mainly personal taste. But we don’t recommend shapes that are too long and thin (it makes them fragile) or too thick and squat (they appear less graceful).

Understanding Carat Weight

Sapphires come in a range of carat weights. For those who know a lot about diamonds, you should take note that sapphires are slightly heavier than diamonds. So, one carat sapphires will appear smaller. 

It is important to look at carat weight and measurements when choosing a sapphire. The price per carat weight increases as the stone gets larger. At 5+ carats, the value increases significantly.

Note: two 1-carat sapphires are not the same price as one 2-carat sapphire of the same quality. The 2-carat sapphire will be worth more as it is rarer to find larger sapphires. 

best blue gemstones
Platinum Oval Natural Unheated Burma Sapphire and Diamond Ring GIA

How to choose a good sapphire:

  1. Check for purity of color. The less pleochroism, the better. 
  2. Go for medium or medium-dark tones.
  3. Choose a sapphire with good translucency.
  4. Make sure there are no visible inclusions/flaws.

The best sapphires will always be the blue, pink-orange (padparadscha) and pink sapphires.

Tips When Buying Sapphire Jewelry:

Follow these tips to maximize the value and beauty of your sapphire jewelry for any given budget.  

  1. Look at the sapphire jewelry in good lighting. It will really make a difference when evaluating the stone. Any good jeweler will make sure they are showing you a sapphire in proper light setting.
  2. Choose a complementary metal color, which is white gold or platinum. This will contrast and complement the color of the sapphire(s) beautifully, especially blue sapphires. 
  3. Considering sapphire jewelry with diamonds. Diamonds add amazing contrast and emphasize the beauty of the sapphire. It can be a diamonds halo, diamond side stones, or a diamond pave setting (on a ring’s band for example). 
  4. Check the measurement of the sapphire, not just the carat weight. The measurement will make a difference to the size. Not just the carat weight. 
  5. If you are buying jewelry, don’t worry about heat treatment too much. Especially if you are dealing with single sapphires under 5 carats. If you do want untreated sapphires, expect to pay very high premiums.
  6. Focus on color over clarity. Color is more important than clarity. The sapphires color makes all the difference to the impressiveness of your jewelry. As long as there are no inclusions to the naked eye, it is good. Put simply, the color will always be more noticeable when it comes to sapphires. 
tips for choosing gemstones

What to avoid when buying sapphire jewelry:

  • Tones that are very dark
  • Tones that are very light
  • Strong hues of brown or gray
  • Long, thin cuts (can be too fragile)
  • Fracture filled treatment
  • Lattice diffusion treatment
  • Chemical treatment

To be sure you are avoiding anything but heat-treated sapphires, make sure you are dealing with a trustworthy jeweler. They will tell you everything you need to know about your sapphire jewelry.

Where to buy High-Quality Sapphire Jewelry at a Fair Price?

We suggest only buying sapphire jewelry from a reputable jewelry store. Check reviews, ask around, and do your due diligence to make sure you are dealing with a trustworthy jeweler. Also, make sure they have certified gemologists on staff, so you can ask any and all questions you have. 

If you live in Boca Raton or South Florida, Diamond By Raymond Lee and Raymond Lee Jewelers are your absolute best option (they also deal with online purchases).

Diamonds By Raymond Lee and Raymond Lee Jewelers have been in the jewelry business for over 3 decades. We have an A+ BBB rating and countless satisfied customers who have purchased highly valuable sapphire jewelry. At Diamonds By Raymond Lee and Raymond Lee Jewelers, there are certified Gemologists on staff at all times, and every single piece of jewelry be sold in our collection has been evaluated thoroughly and priced competitively. All the jewelry in this post is available for sale at Diamonds By Raymond Lee and Raymond Lee Jewelers. Feel free to contact us with an inquiry or come into our state-of-the-art showroom to try them on.

Location: 2801 N Federal Hwy, Boca Raton, FL 33431
Hours of operation: 
Monday-Friday  10am-6pm 
Saturday  10am-5pm 
Sunday Closed
Phone: (561) 623-8205

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