6 things you should know before buying a sapphire engagement ring
We studied a generous amount of books and web sources to compile the best material for you about sapphire engagement rings. Wherever you choose to buy your sapphires, look over this article before making an investment. You have to know what you are buying.
In our latest article on engagement rings, we discussed the modern variety of designs and textures, how the styles and shapes of engagement rings changed over time, and what to look for when buying the ring. If you missed it, I highly recommend reading it.
Today we invite you to talk specifically about the sapphire engagement rings.
Basic information + features and advantages
One of the major developments related to engagement rings in recent years is owing to color. More and more often, modern sweethearts favor rings with colored gemstones – colored diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires.
If you want to join this dive into the world of rings with colored gems, without deviating from the classics, you should certainly check out the sapphire rings.
Gems are able to not only spark up jewelry, but also become a profitable investment, later bringing revenue to its owner. Therefore, before you choose a certain gemstone, it is worth figuring out exactly which parameters can affect its value.
You want to understand what you are paying for, right?
No? (Come on :))
Read on anyway. This article has plenty of interesting information.
Is a sapphire engagement ring ok? Features and advantages.
Sapphires embellished royal regalia since ancient Rome. People ascribed magical and healing properties to the stone. Biblical legends say the famous Seal of Solomon was made of sapphire.
Members of royal families have been wearing engagement and wedding rings with sapphires from ancient times to the present day (cheers to Kate and Lady Di). Sapphire is as good for an engagement ring as a diamond and maybe even better. If you falling in love with it depth and color then go for it.
Sapphire is among the most famous and valuable stones. In durability and scratch resistance, this gemstone is second only to diamond (9/10 points on the Mohs scale). Sapphire, just like ruby and emerald, belongs to the corundum group, and in terms of chemistry consists of aluminum oxide.
In its pure form, corundum is colorless, while the variety of shades stems from the presence of various impurities in the mineral.
Speaking of shades! The most well-known and valuable color of sapphire is blue.
“What does ‘the most well-known’ mean?” – you may ask.
“Aren’t all sapphires blue?”
No wonder anyone would say so, as when it comes to sapphires, most people have an image of a stone of different shades of blue. However, in fact, sapphire has the richest color palette among gemstones.
Got you intrigued?
Let’s keep going then.
Blue sapphire engagement ring (or cornflower blue)
As I mentioned above, this color is the most valuable of the variety. The stone acquires these shades from impurities of titanium and iron. Coloration may vary from pale blue to deep blue. Color saturation is what determines the value and, hence, the price of a certain gemstone (the paler is the color, the cheaper is the sapphire).
The most renowned deposits of sapphires are in the United States, Australia, Madagascar, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and China. However, the best specimens of the blue corundum are considered to originate from Kashmir. Other sapphires’ color is evaluated exclusively though comparison with Kashmir ones. Their prominent feature is a velvety, ‘true’ medium blue hue, highlighted by a barely noticeable milky haze (this effect occurs from the presence of cavities filled with liquid, or from tiny crystals hardly detectable even under a powerful microscope).
Many of my clients are asking what the blue sapphire engagement ring means? For centuries it symbolized trust, calmness, loyalty, and faithfulness. All this naturally brings us to a deep long-lasting love.
Unfortunately, the Kashmir source gave the world a very limited amount of gemstones of incredible beauty and was exhausted in just seven years. Stones extracted from 1880 to 1887 are rightfully considered exclusive and are any collector’s dream. (The price of a Kashmir sapphire ring often exceeds $ 4 million)
Second place honorably belongs to Burmese sapphires, known as “midnight stones” or “midnight blue stars”. These rare and stunningly beautiful gems received their name for the deep multifaceted dark blue hue. The mining area in northern Myanmar (formerly Burma) is still functioning; however, they are strictly limiting the extraction volume.
The last of our top-three leaders are Ceylon sapphires. (Ceylon stone is the one that adorns the famous sapphire engagement ring of Princess Diana).
Ceylon corundum is more delicate in color, compared to the Burmese one, while being deep and giving the stone a reserved aristocratic allure.
Pricing for a ring with sapphires from the top three may be exorbitant; however, should you consider sapphires mined, for instance, in Australia (source of 80% of all blue corundums supplied to jewelry workshops worldwide), you’ll find the cost of such jewelry quite acceptable. It is worth mentioning that even the most expensive stones will not be perfect in terms of purity; hence, if you are offered a sapphire engagement ring without a single defect (meaning internal inclusions), be sure this stone is synthetic.
Green sapphire engagement ring
These have a reasonably broad range of shades: from light yellow-green or olive to blue-green and aquamarine. Even though green corundums are quite rarely found in nature, they are the cheapest among others. Green color of the gem comes from iron impurities.
Alternating green and blue stripes turn the mineral a nearly emerald green color, while blotches and veinlets make the color irregular. For this reason, green corundum does not have a vibrant color, often having a grayish tint instead. Correspondingly, these sapphires are hard to confuse with, for instance, emeralds, which are the brightest and most high-priced representatives among green minerals. The mix of green and blue color usually called peacock sapphire.
Despite these stones, unlike emeralds, are categorized as semi-precious, they barely concede to their blue colored siblings, and with a suitable style, they will appear no worse. Much of the green sapphires are sourced from Madagascar, Thailand, and Australia; the top-quality stones get to jewelry workshops from Sri Lanka.
Yellow sapphire engagement ring
Yellow color emerges owing to nickel impurities. The color intensity may vary from pale yellow and amber to rich gold or orange, and depends on both the quantity of impurities and the origin of each gemstone.
High-quality yellow sapphires are rarely found in nature; clear and transparent stones, free from imperfections and impurities, are a treasure for jewelers and are widely used in this industry. If you see tiny bubbles in the gemstone when buying one, rest assured it is a fake.
Occasionally, some dealers may try to sell tourmaline in the guise of a yellow sapphire. In such event, only a professional can identify the gem, and if you do not have a consultant with you, the least you should do is ask the seller for a certificate of quality for the chosen gemstone.
Yellow sapphire vs yellow diamond. The main difference for the buyer is that yellow diamond brighter and reflect more color then sapphire, diamond is slightly more durable and yellow sapphire ring usually twice cheaper then similar diamond. It’s the whole different topic about this two and we will cover it in future articles.
Yellow corundum belongs to the first class of gemstones. Some specimens are not inferior in price to diamonds. Light golden and deep yellow sapphires will come more pricey than others. The majority of yellow stones comes from Sri Lanka, although there are some deposits in Myanmar, China, Brazil, Tanzania, USA, and Madagascar.
Purple sapphire engagement ring (violet sapphire)
This color comes from admixture of vanadium. Violet-pink to blue-violet shades are a characteristic feature of these stones.
Until recently, purple corundum was mistaken for oriental amethyst. Minerals of an unusual lilac color generally do not exceed 10 carats in weight.
Most of these stones are mined in Australia and Ceylon, some amazing specimens of purple sapphire are seldom found in America, with deposits located in South Wales and Montana.
Pink sapphire ring and padparadscha engagement ring
This group of corundums is second most expensive after blue. Pink sapphires, which get their color from chromium compounds, can have a broad range of shades from delicate pinkish to saturated colors with a purple hue. Pink sapphires come from deposits in more than twenty countries of the world; however, experts tend to single out stones from Thailand. This might be due to the fact that the jewelry business in Thailand has a long history and is passed strictly from one Thai generation to another.
Hence, the art of processing the initially good-quality stones by local artisans has become virtually a benchmark. Besides Thailand, jewelry workshops are supplied with pink sapphires from Australia, Tanzania, China, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. However, the rare and expensive sapphire known by the exotic name “padparadscha”, which means “lotus color” (or “lotus blossom”) in Sinhala, mainly originates from Sri Lanka. (Although occasionally good specimens are discovered in the deposits of Tanzania, Vietnam, Thailand, and Madagascar)
“Lotus blossom” is considered one of the most beautiful gemstones. The exotic name of this exquisite mineral stems from its unusual pinkish-orange hue, reminiscent of the color of lotus flowers.
Another curious fact is that these sapphires were previously classified as rubies (which also belong to corundum group), but compared to the latter, padparadscha sapphires have greater transparency and, on average, fewer defects. Some large flawless specimens of “lotus blossom” have an appraised value of thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per carat (the price per carat grows proportionately to the stone size).
Padparadscha weighing more than two carats is extremely rare, above five are considered collectible, and the largest stone known to date is exhibited in the New York’s American Museum of Natural History and weighs 100.18 carats.
Be vigilant! On some occasions, microcracks can be found inside the gemstone (the so-called “fire marks”) – such defects are nothing less but a trace of heat treatment. Such tricks are practiced to give inexpensive corundum stones the desired color, and thus sell them for a price well above the true cost.
Star sapphire engagement ring
These too belong to expensive precious stones. Star sapphires are among the rarest gemstones that display a unique optical phenomenon. Due to rutile inclusions, the mineral acquires a fascinating optical effect, which manifests itself in the form of 6- or (much less often) 12-ray stars gliding along the surface of a sapphire. This property is called asterism.
Sapphires with this effect are rarely found in nature, and at times asterism appears only upon processing. On some stones, the star is visible in any light, on others the stellar pattern is only apparent from a certain angle. The clearer is the visibility of the star, the more valuable is the stone, and therefore more expensive.
On the contrary, the color of star sapphires has barely any effect on their price. Blue and black corundums prevail, while green and pink are scarcer. What is star sapphire values – price per carat averages from $50 to $100; the stones are herewith likely to be natural, as the laboratories still have not managed to produce the desired pattern and make a high-quality imitation.
Color change sapphire engagement rings (Alexandrite)
These sapphires come from Kenya, Africa, Tanzania and Australia. They have the ability to change color depending on the lighting. This is known as the “alexandrite effect”, named after the most famous mineral that has this property – alexandrite. Such a feature is also called a “reverse”, and it is usually recognized in a particular stone only if a color change is significant and can be seen with the naked eye.
Corundums originating from Africa have the alexandrite effect more often than others do. It is especially prominent in blue African sapphires: in artificial lighting, it changes its color to purple-red.
Nevertheless, science does not stand still on this one: synthetic stones these days can also have the color-change ability, so before buying such a gemstone, you ought to check the certificates and documents confirming the authenticity and origin of the gem.
White sapphire engagement rings (leuco sapphires)
They are also known in common parlance as “oriental diamonds”. Unlike its multicolored siblings, colorless sapphire is a pure aluminum oxide. Entirely transparent and without any impurities, white sapphires, are extremely rare. Leuco sapphire, just as all other corundums, has an inherent hardness and high ability for sheen, making it perfectly amenable to cutting and polishing.
Among the disadvantages of corundum are low values of dispersion and refraction of light. After all, these properties make the diamonds vivid and shimmering; therefore, sapphire’s low values make it straightforward and easy to separate a sapphire from a diamond.
Often people compare white sapphire vs moissanite and white sapphire vs diamond. When it comes to this, we usually are not talking about natural sapphire anymore. We compared lab stones.
If you are looking for a closest visual alternative to the diamond then moissanite would be closer to the diamond. I personally love white sapphires and think they are in the league of its own. Take a closer look at both of these stones before buying them.
Nevertheless, colorless sapphires possess a number of assets that make it a highly useful mineral for other areas. Apart from the jewelry industry, sapphires are used in the manufacture of medical equipment and tools, in the production of lasers and optical devices, and in the field of science and electronics.
Those who plan to purchase jewelry with natural white sapphires ought to know that most of them are subject to heat treatment. When heated, the mineral gets clearer. This is an acceptable practice, and such stones will differ in price from those unprocessed. Certainly, in this case, the dealer is obliged to notify the customer about the processing of the stone.
Sapphire quality indicators (4C’s)
The beauty of sapphire, like of any other precious stone, has some reasonably strict appraisal criteria. All of them cumulatively directly determine the final price of corundum and the finished products.
This quality criterion is characterized by a combination of lightness, tone, and saturation, and is visually determined by gemologists through comparing a certain stone with the reference items. By lightness, the stone may belong to one of five main categories, and by color saturation – to three groups.
However, the most widely used classification has only three categories. For instance, for blue sapphires such a classification would appear as follows: category 1 – bright blue sapphires, category 2 – medium blue, and the third one – light blue. Gemstone’s value primarily depends on the brightness of its color.
Besides the blue corundum having an irrefutable advantage over other sapphires, the hue of the stone in such a ring will shift the price up or down. As mentioned before, there is nothing more expensive in the world of precious stones than real Kashmir sapphires.
The number of imperfections in a stone directly affects its value in the jewelry market.
There is a clarity scale for grading corundum, which ascribes four grades. In type 1, you can notice only small defects that do not significantly affect the level of transparency of the stone. If sapphires fall into the first category, their price may be obscenely high (up to several tens of thousands per carat), while stones from the fourth category will be the cheapest, occasionally offered at a price of $10-20 apiece, not even per carat.
Even the most beautiful gem can be ruined by poor-quality cutting. Conversely, a completely mediocre stone in capable hands of a jeweler may turn into a microcosm of gleam and shimmer. There is a multitude of shapes and ways of cutting gemstones.
Classic cut is an excellent choice for pure sapphires without an array of impurities. A diamond (round) cut is applied to all sapphire varieties, along with fancy cuts: “Pear”, “Emerald”, “Marquise”, “Heart”, etc. If the stone is large, it is most often cut in the manner of a cabochon.
Choosing the right cut is crucial. When processing and polishing a gemstone, one should try to keep the maximum of the original weight of the stone, since the weight of a processed gem is the fourth and final criterion for stone appraisal.
Sapphire Carat Weight
As mentioned before, this criterion refers to the mass of the stone, and translated into metric system, one carat constitutes 0.2 grams.
To measure this indicator, there is dedicated jewelry equipment.
However, if it happens that you do not have highly precise scales at hand, you can employ a digital caliper, measure your stone, and check the measurements against a simple table:
(Be careful, the ratio of size vs. carat depends on the type of cut)
How to tell if the stone is fake, and what is the refinement of sapphires
The simplest way to check a stone before buying is to verify the certificate of conformity.
This certificate is a special document issued by an independent gemological laboratory in recognition of the guaranteed authenticity and quality of the stone.
Gemological certification procedure includes examination of a gemstone and estimation of its characteristics based on the adopted standards. Gemological certificates provide all the essential information on a gemstone as a product – its color group, clarity, quality of cut and polishing, mass, and other aspects.
(It is important to realize that the stone setting does not allow specialists to assess all the characteristics of a stone accurately; therefore, gemological institutes accept only the stones removed from their frame. Consequently, if the seller does not have a certificate for a stone in your product of choice and they assure you such a certificate is easily arranged, you should know that it is not true.)
Nonetheless, here are some more simple techniques to examine the quality of a sapphire:
- Treatment. Make sure to ask what sort of processing the stone was subjected to. Nowadays, the so-called “refining” or “ennoblement” of corundum is widely used.
- The method implies heating the stone to the maximum acceptable degree, allowing for brightening the color of the crystal and making the coloring uniform. Only a good quality mineral is able to withstand such manipulations; as for an artificial crystal, stripes will appear on the surface as a consequence of such processing.
- Ultraviolet. If you place a natural sapphire under the UV rays upon heat treatment, it will display chalky fluorescence. An artificial one will have a green sheen.
- When buying a sapphire with the asterism effect, make sure to look out for the way the star’s rays are moving. If you turn a natural stone it in your hands, the star will move across the surface; in artificial stones, the position of the rays will not change.
- Inclusions and impurities. Under the magnifying glass of a microscope, a natural stone will definitely show some natural inclusions. However, in a high-quality natural mineral, they shall only be visible under an optical magnification. Occasionally when the stone is natural, the impurities can be seen with the naked eye. The price of such stones cannot be high. Artificial sapphire will not show any impurities whatsoever.
- Striped mineral inclusions. If you dip the stone in transparent water in a transparent container, place it on a sheet of white paper, and then direct some light at it from the side, the strips of natural origin will be arranged straight. In an artificial stone, they will be twisted. Moreover, the natural mineral is much heavier and quickly sinks to the bottom of the container. A fake stone is unlikely to sink to the bottom.
- Damage. Corundum is quite a hard stone. Hence, if you intend to scratch a stone, its very nature will not allow you to do this. Scratching an artificial stone, on the other hand, is much easier.
- Doublet. Some artisans have adjusted to glue the stones together, combining a real sapphire plate in the upper part with an artificial one in the bottom. The line connecting the two parts can also be seen using optics.
- Any sapphire of noble quality has the most visually pleasing aesthetic.
- Point of sale. Carefully choose your retailer before purchase. Let it be a store with a good reputation.
In conclusion – if the stone doesn’t have a certificate just walk away from it.
History of Sapphire. Sapphire celebrities and celebrity sapphires
Frankly speaking, initially these were two separate parts of the article. However, since the movers and shakers of this world have always had a weakness for the mysterious sapphire glow, I find it quite challenging to talk about gemstones without mentioning their famous owners.
Sapphire has long been considered the stone of kings and dukes. As stated in historical sources, a sapphire ring was worn by Alexander the Great; moreover, it is known that Mary, Queen of Scots, also owned a sapphire ring.
Sapphire is the favorite gemstone of the British royal family; they own two unique stones: the Stuart Sapphire and a large nameless sapphire decorating the cross on the crown of the British Empire.
The Stuart Sapphire used to adorn the crown of Charles II, but was taken by James II when he fled to France in 1688. Later, the stone was passed on to his son James Francis Edward Stuart, and then to his grandson, Henry Benedict Stuart.
For a little while, this gemstone decorated the mitre of the Archbishop of York, but before his demise, he sold it to a Venetian merchant. Only many years later, the Italian Angiolo Benelli bought the sapphire for King George II, then it passed on to King George IV, who gave it to Princess Charlotte, who wore this sapphire until her death.
After the princess’ demise, the sapphire joined the Crown Jewels and for some time decorated the crown of Queen Victoria. Now it adorns the Imperial State Crown along with the fragments of the Cullinan Diamond (the crown is on display in the Tower of London, just like the other royal regalia).
The Star of India is one of the largest of the treated gemstones; its mass equals 563 carats. This star sapphire was discovered in Sri Lanka and weights 563.35 carats.
The stone was stolen from the American Museum of Natural History, where it was displayed, and only a few years later it was found and safely recovered.
The Midnight Star ruby from Ceylon weighs 116.75 carats and is stored in the American Museum of Natural History (New York).
The Black Star of Queensland is a dark star sapphire, located at the Smithsonian Institution. The stone received its name after its dark blue, almost black color. The gem was discovered in Australia and has been used as a doorstop by the owner for a long time. After they realized that this was not a mere cobblestone, it was cut as a cabochon and sold.
TheRuspoli Sapphire belongs to the collection of the Musée au Jardin des Plantes (France). It is entirely flawless, with a brownish tint, and weighs 135 carats.
The Blue Giant of the Orient is a sky-blue sapphire, weighing 446 carats; it was discovered in 1901 in Sri Lanka.
John Morgan spent a fortune to buy this stone. For a long time, the sapphire was kept in an armored safe under a round-the-clock police watch. However, in 1964 he the owner donated it to the American Museum of Natural History, from which it was soon stolen. Detectives all over the States were astir, and after a long search, the stone was returned to the museum.
The world’s largest sapphire, weighing 61,500 carats, was discovered in Madagascar. This enormous discovery received the name of the Millennium Sapphire. The magnificent gemstone is stored in a private Hong Kong collection.
The Gem of the Jungle is a deep cornflower-blue sapphire that was found in Burma in 1929, right on the surface of the earth just below the grass cover. The weight of the stone was 958 carats.
The Lone Star is a famous star sapphire, weighing 9,719 carats. (It also went under the name of “Harold Roper”, after the owner of the stone).
TheLogan Sapphire used to adorn John Rockefeller’s ring. These days, an amazing item with a famous sapphire encircled by twenty rose-cut purest diamonds can be found in the Smithsonian Institution. (The sapphire was named after its last owner, Mrs. Logan, who donated the stone to the museum).
The rose-cut Sloane Sapphire, named after Sir Hans Sloane, is among the collection of the British Museum. The shape resembles an octagon, with a weight of 31.5 carats.
TheBlue Princessis recognized as the largest pure gemstone, and it belongs to the jewelry house “Van Cleef & Arpels”. Its weight is 114 carats, and despite the massive size, this stone does not have a single unevenness.
How to clean and take care of gold rings with sapphires at home
Diamond is the only gemstone harder and stronger than sapphire. This means that only a diamond can scratch or otherwise damage a sapphire. Washing dishes or cleaning the house will do no harm to your stone. Quite on the contrary, in case you decide to wash your windows or fragile wine glasses, it is wiser to remove the ring, or you will surely damage the glass 🙂
A knife, a file, a nail … none of the items I named have a value above seven on the Mohs scale of hardness (sapphire got 9, remember?). Subsequently, they won’t be able to damage the gemstone. Well, unless you have diamond knives.
Having said this, cleaning sapphires at home is an unnecessary pastime. If it is beyond your power to fight the desire of performing this sacred ritual, simply wipe the surface of the ring and stone with a soapy water solution. (Choose a mild detergent considering the metal from which the ring is made, the stone will be fine) An ultrasonic jewelry cleaner can be a great option for those who like to burnish their treasures to a high luster.
However, it seems to me that the ideal solution is to entrust the jeweler with cleaning your jewelry.
Congratulations! You made it to the end of this pretty long article. Now you know way more about sapphires and sapphires engagement rings than just 20-25 min ago. I hope it makes the decision process easier and more assuring.
Of course, there is a lot more to talk about these beautiful stones, GEMologist staying for a year to be good at it and my goal wasn’t to educate you to the level be one, my goal was to clarify your vision and protect you from a bad investment.