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Jewelry Education / Sapphire Guide

How To Choose A Sapphire

Sapphire Color

At Engagement Rings, we go above and beyond the industry standards to offer Beyond Conflict Free™ Diamonds selected for their ethical and environmentally responsible origins.

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Sapphire Carat Weight & Size

Sapphires vary in density, so gems of the same carat weight could visually differ in size. Because of this, sapphires are measured by size as well as carat weight.

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Sapphire Cut

Every sapphire is uniquely cut to maximize the gemstone's color and brilliance. There are no specific proportions or standardization for "ideal" cuts for sapphires because sapphires have a wide variety of properties.

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Sapphire Clarity

Sapphires develop in an environment with trace minerals, so it is an accepted fact that all sapphires have at least minor inclusions. But due to the rich color of sapphires, those clarity characteristics are usually unnoticeable.

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Ethical Sapphire Stone Origins & Sourcing

Our sapphires are primarily sourced from our partners in Sri Lanka. We also offer sapphires from other origins, such as Montana, Australia, and Malawi.

In Sri Lanka, miners use age-old techniques that involve low-impact mining, fair wages, and land remediation. The internationally-recognized Australian practices promote the health and safety of miners. Mines in Montana must use employment practices set forth by OSHA, ensuring the safety of everyone involved.

Types Of Sapphires & Sapphire Qualities

Natural Sapphires

Natural sapphires and lab-created sapphires have the same chemical properties, but natural sapphires were mined from the earth. Each natural sapphire crystal has unique size, shape, and color properties.

A natural sapphire label suggests to buyers that the stones have not been treated. Many of the sapphires at Engagement Rings have come from mines - making them naturally sourced - but they have been treated to enhance their color and clarity. Some natural sapphires come directly from the mine, then are faceted. These natural sapphires can also be labeled as untreated.

Lab Created Sapphires

Lab created sapphires are no different from natural sapphires except that gemologists create them in a controlled environment. They have a consistency in color, quality, and hardness that natural sapphires do not. Lab created sapphires are not color-treated or enhanced in any way.

Because they grow in a controlled environment, lab created sapphires have very little, if any, flaws. They have slightly more durability than natural sapphires because they do not have inclusions or fractures that weaken them. Lab created gems cost less than mined stones because the process of creating them has a smaller carbon footprint.

Sapphire Vs. Diamond

Sapphires and diamonds both come in rich colors, colorless, and white. Diamonds have more brilliance than sapphires. When a white diamond is cut well, it has more fire and scintillation than a sapphire. But white sapphires have become a popular and affordable alternative to diamonds due to their similarity in color and hardness.

The Mohs scale measures the hardness of gems. Diamonds are at the top of the scale with a hardness rating of ten. Sapphires are another hard and durable gem with a Mohs rating of nine.

Most diamonds are not treated with heat or other processes, while most sapphires do receive a heat treatment. The price of a cut sapphire can be as low as $50 per carat to over $10,000 per carat, depending on the color and clarity. Diamonds start around $3,000 per carat and top out over $25,000 per carat, depending on the color, cut, carat, and clarity.

Another consideration when choosing between sapphire and diamond is the difference in carat weight. Sapphires are heavier than diamonds, so a one-carat diamond will be larger.

Sapphires and diamonds can both be lab-grown, so consumers do not have to worry about ethical mining practices. When deciding between a white diamond or sapphire, consumers should consider the 4 Cs and what gemstone appeals to them.

Sapphire Rarity

Sapphires are rare gems, especially when compared to diamonds. The most common color is blue, but deeply saturated blue sapphires with high clarity are difficult to find in nature, making them incredibly valuable. Green emeralds and red rubies are harder to find in nature than sapphires.

The rarest sapphire is a padparadscha that is a mixture of pink and orange. This unique color looks like the sunset, although the official name is a Sanskrit word that refers to the color in a lotus blossom.

Some sapphires have inclusions that give them the appearance of having star-like rays in them. Most star sapphires have six rays, but some especially rare star sapphires have twelve. This type of sapphire has rutile and hematite inclusions that result in two pairs of six rays.

Large jewelry-grade sapphires are also rare. Smaller ones are easier to find in nature.

Sapphire Hardness

Sapphires and rubies are from the corundum family, so their hardness is similar. Despite being only one number away from diamonds, a sapphire's nine rating does not mean they are unbreakable. However, because they do not have cleavages that make them easy to break when struck, sapphires are good choices for daily wear, especially as rings.

Heat, light, and common chemicals do not affect sapphires. If sapphires are untreated, boric acid power can scratch the surface. Poor quality, cavity-filled sapphire could be damaged by lemon juice and other mild acids.

Sapphire Treatments

It is an accepted industry standard for sapphires to be heat-treated to improve color, clarity, and overall appearance. Some natural sapphires are found closer to thermal venting in the earth, which produces exceptional color through natural heating. By heating sapphires that are not found in these locations, we mimic this natural process.

As is common with almost all sapphires available today, the majority of Engagement Rings sapphires are heat-treated. Engagement Rings also carries un-heated sapphires at a premium.

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Sapphire Certification

Gemologists have not yet developed a standard grading system for sapphires like they have for diamonds. The only grading available involves color grading, but the process is not as methodical and systematic as diamond grading. Therefore, the scores vary based on the group that does the grading.

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Caring for Your Sapphire

Sapphires require more care than diamonds, but they are still easy to clean. The best method involves cleaning them with a mixture of warm water and a dab of gentle dish soap that degreases.

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Sapphire FAQs

Some sapphires can be expensive. The price of a sapphire is related to its color, rarity, and size. Larger sapphires in rare colors are more expensive than sapphires with dull colors in smaller carat sizes. Lab-created sapphires tend to be more affordable than sapphires mined in nature.

In general, sapphires are less expensive than diamonds. However, the rarest colors like the padparadscha and rich blue sapphires can be priced similarly to high-quality diamonds. The price of sapphire and diamond is affected by the color, cut, clarity, and carat.

The sapphires at Engagement Rings are either lab-created or sourced from ethical mines. Most of our sapphires come from Sri Lanka, Australia, and Montana. These locations use conflict-free practices that include land reclamation and fair wages.

Sapphires are made of corundum, which is also known as aluminum oxide. Corundum is the same substance in rubies. After diamonds, corundum is one of the hardest known substances on Earth. It is resistant to weathering. Miners tend to find them in sedimentary rocks and deposits, often near heat vents.