Blue sapphires are renowned for their unparalleled beauty in the gem trade, making them one of the most popular gemstones for engagement rings alongside the diamond. Sapphire is also the birthstone for those born in September and is the gem associated with the 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries.
While blue is undoubtedly the most popular color variety seen in commercial jewelry, sapphires also come in a range of other colors, including yellow, pink, green, orange, purple, and black. In addition, white sapphires make an excellent alternative to diamonds.
Besides the different colored sapphires, there is also quite a lot of variation between the blue gems themselves. This is due to their origin and composition and whether or not they have been treated. Thus, the prices for blue sapphires can also vary considerably.
These are the factors you need to consider when choosing a blue sapphire engagement ring. We cover all of these and more in the following guide so that you can make an informed buyer’s decision.
Gem-quality blue sapphire is mined in several locations around the world, including China, Cambodia, Colombia, Vietnam, Tanzania, Madagascar, Malawi, and the USA. However, the highest-quality blue sapphire usually comes from India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Australia. This is because the sapphire produced in these countries has characteristics that set it apart from the rest, characteristics that can have a significant impact on the price of a blue sapphire ring.
Let’s examine them in more detail below.
The Kashmir Sapphire from India is probably the most sought-after variety of blue sapphire, though your chances of acquiring one are slim to none. This is because the mines responsible for producing these exquisite stones have long been exhausted, and no new sources have since been discovered.
The fact that only a limited number of these gems exist, combined with their distinctive cornflower blue color and silk-like inclusions, means that Kashmir Sapphires typically fetch record prices when they appear at auctions. Unfortunately, this puts them out of the average individual’s price range.
Therefore, it is advisable to exercise caution if you come across one in your search for a blue sapphire ring. This is because there are some less than reputable dealers out there who try to take advantage of the Kashmir’s reputation. Thus, any blue sapphire offered for sale under the name “Kashmir” should be accompanied by a report from an internationally-recognized gemological lab, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
Although Burma (modern-day Myanmar) is more famous for mining some of the world’s finest rubies, the area is also known for producing blue sapphires of exceptional quality.
Prized for its deep violet-blue hues and even distribution of color, Burmese Sapphire can command prices that rival the famed Kashmir. However, not all sapphire from Burma is considered valuable. For example, light blue stones are typically sold for less than those that exhibit a more saturated blue hue with a medium to dark tone.
Another factor that results in lower prices for Burmese Sapphire is that it is more readily available than Kashmir Sapphire, which also means that you are more likely to find Burmese Sapphire engagement rings at your local jewelry shop.
Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is one of the most prolific producers of blue sapphire in the world. The gemstones produced here exhibit light to medium blue tones and are more likely to possess an uneven distribution of color than stones from the previous two localities.
That being said, Ceylon Sapphire is still a highly sought-after variety for its attractive bright blue hues and minimal black extinctions.
The most famous example of a Ceylon Sapphire is the stone featured in Princess Diana’s engagement ring. The ring comprises a 12 ct oval-cut royal blue Ceylon Sapphire surrounded by a halo of 14 diamonds set in 18k white gold. It is the very same ring now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.
Thailand has been a trading hub for sapphire and ruby since the 1950s. Most of the sapphires mined here come from the Chanthaburi, Trat, and Kanchanaburi regions.
Thai Sapphire typically features a dark blue or greenish-blue hue and is often treated to improve its appearance. This makes sapphire from Thailand one of the more affordable options on this list.
Australia is another large producer of some of the finest commercial-grade blue sapphire in the world. The gems mined in this country are typically dark blue and often feature dichroism. Dichroism refers to the presence of two colors in a single gemstone. In the case of Australian sapphire, the stones usually contain a mix of yellow, green, and blue. These multi-colored stones are also called “Parti-Sapphires” and are considered valuable because of their unique composition.
Like Thai Sapphire, Australian Sapphire is often treated to achieve a lighter shade of blue.
With so many different varieties on the market, you may be wondering how the price for a blue sapphire is set. Typically, each stone is evaluated individually according to its color, carat, clarity, and cut, and whether it is treated or untreated (more on this below).
Thus, the origin of a stone does not necessarily equate to its value, although it is true that certain locations produce higher-grade gems. However, this does not mean that every stone recovered from these locations will be of the same standard (take Burmese Sapphire, for example).
Keep this in mind when shopping for blue sapphire engagement rings because some dealers will try to capitalize on a lower-grade stone if it comes from a well-known source. If you suspect that the quality of a stone is not reflected by its price, rather continue your search elsewhere. Also, be careful about buying gems from unknown online sources.
Sapphire is a variety of the mineral corundum that forms naturally in the earth’s crust. It derives its color from the trace elements that were present in the environment during its formation. For example, blue sapphire is colored by trace amounts of titanium and iron.
A sapphire stone that has been taken from the ground and faceted without any further treatment is known as a natural sapphire. These stones are exceptionally rare, which is why natural sapphire rings are often quite expensive.
A treated sapphire, on the other hand, refers to a stone that has undergone an enhancement treatment. As the name suggests, this type of treatment is done to enhance the natural beauty of the stone. It is extremely difficult to detect, and, as a result, treated stones often pass as natural sapphires. In fact, there is no way of knowing whether a sapphire is treated or not unless it is accompanied by a report from the GIA or another reputable gemological institution.
There is also some debate about whether a treated sapphire of natural origin can still be classed as “natural” even though its appearance has been artificially enhanced. Because there is no set standard in this regard, some jewelry retailers market the stones in blue sapphire rings as natural but omit the fact that they have been treated. Strictly speaking, these retailers aren’t lying, but they are not being completely honest about their products either. A reputable jeweler will either state when a gem has been treated or provide you with a gem grading report at your request.
As mentioned above, each sapphire stone is appraised according to its individual characteristics. This is because no two gems are alike, even when they are sourced from the same location. Experts use the 4Cs to evaluate sapphires and other colored gemstones, which include color, carat, clarity, and cut. As a buyer, you can also use the 4Cs to determine whether a sapphire is value for money or not. Here is a brief overview of what to look for:
Color is the most important factor for assessing the value of a blue sapphire. However, it is also largely a matter of personal taste. Some people prefer a lighter shade of blue over the classic cornflower blue, while others prefer a darker tone. Essentially, you can decide how light or dark you would like your blue sapphire to be.
Generally, white metals like sterling silver, platinum, and white gold are chosen to accompany a blue sapphire in an engagement ring setting, and for a good reason. These metals create a lot of contrast between themselves and the sapphire, making the stone’s color appear more intense. The distinction is even more effective in jewelry settings that feature white diamonds as accent stones since the diamonds’ brilliance elevates the cool blue tones of the sapphire.
However, if you’re looking for a more toned-down “classic” appearance, consider a blue sapphire ring in warm yellow gold.
To summarize, here are our tips for choosing a blue sapphire ring:
Sapphire has a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, making it the second hardest gemstone after the diamond. Sapphire also has no cleavage, which means that the stone cannot be easily broken or chipped by a hard blow. Sapphire is, therefore, an excellent gemstone for engagement rings and other jewelry pieces that need to withstand a lot of wear.
Natural untreated sapphire is quite rare, making it comparatively more expensive than treated sapphire.
Whether an engagement ring is tacky or not is essentially a matter of personal preference. In addition, sapphire engagement rings feature a range of different settings and designs to suit every style.
Blue sapphire represents honesty and fidelity, attributes of a healthy marriage. It, therefore, makes a fitting engagement ring stone as a promise of what is to come.
Contrary to popular belief, diamonds are not rare gemstones. To put this into perspective, think about how many pieces in a given jewelry shop feature at least one diamond. Then, think about how many jewelry shops exist.
Sapphires, on the other hand, are much rarer than diamonds, especially natural untreated stones.
Despite featuring a stone rarer than a diamond, a sapphire engagement ring is often more affordable than a diamond engagement ring. This has to do with the demand for diamonds, which remain the most popular gemstones for engagement rings in most western countries.
The cornflower blue Kashmir Sapphire from India is the rarest and most sought-after blue sapphire, reflected by its high price.
The price of a blue sapphire in the USA can range from $2,000 to $8,000, depending on the size of the stone and its shade of blue.
Blue sapphires are natural, but untreated natural blue sapphires are very rare.
Thanks to its durability and hardness, you can wear a sapphire ring every day.
The most ethical diamond lookalike for an engagement ring is lab-grown moissanite.
Color is undoubtedly the most critical factor for evaluating sapphires. Stones with a medium to dark blue tone and intense saturation typically command the highest prices, though lighter stones with good clarity can also sell for a decent amount.
The highly sought-after Kashmir Sapphire is from India, though there is no longer a supply of these precious stones. Other countries that produce high-quality blue sapphires include Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Australia.
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