Sapphire is one of the Big 3 of jewelry gemstones—the other two are ruby and emerald. Sapphire is a durable stone that’s the best known blue gem, as well as being available in most colors.
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What To Look For
The most highly valued blue sapphires are velvety blue to violetish blue, in medium to medium dark tones. Preferred sapphires also have strong to vivid color saturation. The saturation should be as strong as possible without darkening the color and compromising brightness.
Blue sapphires often have some inclusions. Blue sapphires with extremely high clarity are rare, and very valuable. Price can drop if the inclusions threaten the stone’s durability. Kashmir sapphires contain tiny inclusions that impart a desirable velvety appearance.
To achieve the best overall color, maintain the best proportions, and retain the most weight possible, cutters focus on factors like color zoning, pleochroism, and the lightness or darkness of a stone.
Blue sapphires can range in size anywhere from a few points to hundreds of carats, and large blue sapphires are more readily available than large rubies. However, most commercial-quality blue sapphires weigh less than 5.00 carats.
Sapphire Quality Factors: The Comprehensive Guide
Tips & Advice
1. Work with a jeweler to understand the difference that color makes.
Look at different colors of sapphire side by side to understand the range of qualities available. Dark colors like navy or midnight blue, and less saturated colors like grayish blue or straw yellow are more affordable than vivid colors.
2. Don’t compromise on cut.
The quality of the cut can make a big difference in beauty and brilliance. Your sapphire should sparkle in a lively way, reflecting light back evenly across the entire gem. Poorly cut gems are much less marketable and sell at a discount.
3. Ask about the type of treatment a sapphire has undergone.
A large amount of the sapphire on the market, both blue and fancy colors, has been treated to alter its color by heat or by lattice diffusion. Sapphire treated by lattice diffusion often has vivid color but is less valuable than heated sapphire. When in doubt, get a lab report.