Yellow Sapphire Filled with Lead Glass
The 4.27 ct sapphire (figure 1) was hazy throughout, with a roiled effect reminiscent of hessonite, but standard gemological properties and microscopic analysis identified the specimen as natural corundum. It gave an RI of 1.762–1.770; a hydrostatic SG of 4.03; an absorption band at around 450 nm, along with fine lines in the red end under the desk-model spectroscope; and reddish orange fluorescence in long- and short-wave UV. The sapphire showed stronger fluorescence under long-wave UV. Microscopic examination revealed numerous low-relief cracks throughout the stone with a distinct flash effect. Also visible were trapped, flattened gas bubbles, as seen in figure 2, and whitish cloudy patches; these are typically associated with filled stones. Also present were milky zones consisting of fine discs (usually rutile) and negative crystals associated with liquid films. Under diffused lighting, the glass-filled fractures appeared orangy yellow against the pale yellow bodycolor of the stone (again, see figure 2). As a result, the face-up color also appeared orangy yellow. The color of the filler glass was similar to that observed in glass-filled rubies. The lead content of the glass was further confirmed by EDXRF analysis, while the presence of iron (the cause of the sapphire’s yellow color) was confirmed by an Fe-related 450 nm band in the UV-visible spectrum.
Since this was first example of lead-glass-filled yellow sapphire examined by this contributor, its market penetration is still unknown. With its transparency and color, this material qualifies as an inexpensive substitute for yellow sapphire, provided there is complete disclosure.
About the Author