Many couples pick sapphire for their engagement ring. Since sapphires don’t have the same grading system as diamonds do, I wanted to share with you what you should know when picking out a sapphire. Before I list what to look for when choosing a sapphire, I’ll give some important facts about the gem and also why they are blue.
Sapphires belong to Corundum family of minerals. Blue sapphires occur as a result of iron and titanium being present in the Corundum. Sapphires come in different colors such as yellow, pink, purple, orange, green, black and grey. Each different color is the result of the presence of a certain mineral. For example, pink sapphires are formed because of presence of Nitrogen. Both sapphires and rubies are Corundum. Rubies are red because of presence of Chromium.
Sapphire’s Mosh hardness is a nine from a scale of 1 to 10. Because of their hardness, sapphires are a great choice for an engagement ring given the amount of daily wear and tear that they receive.
There are more sapphires than rubies. That’s why rubies are more expensive. The reason is while Chromium is responsible for the red color in ruby, it’s also responsible for cracks and fissures which prevent the ruby from growing larger.
First thing to consider when buying a sapphire is its color. Even though its color may be subjective, the most sought after shade of blue for sapphires is a deep cornflower blue. This is mostly evident in sapphires from Ceylon (modern Srilanka ), Madagaskar and Kashmir. Sapphires that are very dark blue, they don’t reflect the light as well and they appear black in low light, should be avoided.
Another quality that you should look for is how even the color saturation is. There shouldn’t be pockets of light and dark colors. The color needs to be even through out the gem.
Next is the appearance of blemishes. Natural sapphires will have blemishes, but they should be minimal. If there are absolutely no blemishes, it may be synthetic. Some blemishes called “SIlk” are fine. They are thin lines resembling the threads of a silk fabric. Some sapphires from Kashmir region have that quality. Also the presence of silk may indicate absence of heat treatment.
Heat treatment is commonly used for both sapphires and rubies to improve their color and quality. In fact, about 99% of the sapphires that come out of the ground are heat-treated. Only about 1% are of gem quality and they are always certified. No-heat sapphires are in a completely different price range.
It’s best when you can look at the gem, any gem, loose versus already set in a mounting. Also look at the gem in natural sunlight versus electric light. It also helps to look at a few sapphires next to each other so you can have the opportunity to compare and pick out the best one.
At Cynthia Britt, it’s our mission to source out the right gem for you. I always provide a few choices so you can have the opportunity to compare. I always show the gems loose and in natural sunlight. It’s really the only way you can see everything in it and about it. You will always know exactly what you’re getting.
If you have any questions or comments, just ask!