Feature Gems & Gemology, Fall 1985, Vol. 21, No. 3

Sapphires from Australia

During the last 20 years, Australia has assumed a major role in the production of blue sapphire. Most of the gem material comes from alluvial deposits in the Anakie (central Queensland) and New England (northern New South Wales) fields. Mining techniques range from hand sieving to highly mechanized operations. The rough is usually sorted at the mine offices and sold directly to Thai buyers in the fields. The iron-rich Australian sapphires are predominantly blue (90%), with some yellow, some green, and a very few parti-colored stones. The rough stones are commonly heat treated in Thailand to remove the silk. While production has been down during the last two years because of depressed prices combined with higher costs, prospects for the future are good.