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Sapphire Guide:  Buying Sapphires

14K Genuine Sapphire and Diamond RingHere’s an interesting fact relative to buying sapphires and sapphire value and pricing.  Did you know that sapphires and rubies are two different color varieties of the same mineral?  The mineral’s name is corundum, it’s second only to the diamond in natural gemstone hardnss and here’s the kicker:  The most common gem-grade variety of sapphire is the blue sapphire.  Sapphires actually come in a lot of different colors, some of which (yellow, orange and lavender, for example, called ‘fancy sapphires’) are actually rarer than blue sapphires.  But because we, the buying public,have been sooo trained to desire, want, crave the deep blue sapphire, blue sapphire gemstone jewelry will generally be priced higher than yellow, orange or lavender sapphire jewelry, even though these other color sapphires are more rare.

The exception to the ‘blue rule’ would be vivid pink sapphires and, the rarest and most valuable color of sapphire, called padparadscha.  It’s a vivid pinkish orange –  salmon-color, if you will.  Just to give an idea of its value:  As of this writing (March 2010), there’s a 2.62 carat natural, untreated Padparadscha sapphire (a loose gemstone) being offered through Amazon.com by The Natural Sapphire Company and it can be your’s for the small sum of $9,956.  

The above information, by the way, paraphrases a fascinating article by Donald Clark, CSM (Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter) founder of the International Gem Society.   It's a fun read and you'll find a link to his article, How Rare is That Gem?, on our Jewelry Reference Links page.

Enough marveling over baubles out of our price range.  Let’s take a look at how to buy sapphires and what you should look for when shopping for sapphire jewelry.

How to Buy Sapphires 

When shopping for good quality sapphire gemstone jewelry, you’ll find that clear, unclouded sapphires of a deep blue hold greater value and therefore command higher prices.   As with other colored gemstones, sapphire color quality is judged14k rose gold sapphire ring by the gemstone's hue (color), its saturation (the strength or weakness of the color), and tone (the lightness or darkness of the color).  

Some sapphire jewelry is heat-treated to enhance color in an otherwise pale sapphire or to improve a sapphire’s clarity by removing tiny inclusions.  There is nothing wrong whatsoever with purchasing treated or enhanced sapphire jewelry as long as there’s full disclosure from the seller.

Make sure, before you buy sapphires, to find out whether your sapphire is natural or enhanced, treated or untreated.  Shop around so that you have a fairly good idea of where the price range should fall for both natural and treated sapphire jewelry. 

Lab-Created Sapphires Versus Natural Sapphires – Which is Better? Which is Cheaper

You’ll find that lab-created sapphires are substantially cheaper than natural sapphires.  Remember, we’re talking about lab-created/synthetic sapphires, NOT simulated sapphires.

10k Gold Created Sapphire and Diamond Accent RingLab-created, or synthetic, sapphires (and other lab-created or synthetic gemstones) are defined by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) as possessing “..essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as the stone named.”  Your lab-created sapphire, in other words, possesses the same general properties as a natural sapphire.  Only a gemologist would be able to tell the difference.  The FTC also requires that any enhancement treatment your gemstone has received must be fully disclosed by the seller, along with any special care requirements.

If you love the idea of sapphire jewelry and, if buying a treated sapphire or lab-created sapphire makes the difference between actually owning sapphire jewelry versus pressing your nose against the jewelry store window, why not try it out?  Or just throw convention out the window altogether and shop for a pastel sapphire instead? 

Be sure to check the return policy on your sapphire jewelry before you buy; oftentimes there’s a 30-day return policy which should alleviate any concerns you might have if the sapphire jewelry you purchase just isn’t right for you.

Whatever color sapphire jewelry you choose, and whether you go for natural and untreated,  color and clarity enhanced or lab-created, remember the only person that needs to be 100% satisfied with your purchase is you.



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