Sapphires have been adored by humans throughout history, and they continue to do so today. These lovely gems and the source of the September birthstone are certainly worth the hype.
The impressive array of colors that sapphires come in is another alluring aspect of this gemstone. Found in countries like Sri Lanka and Ethiopia, sapphires continue to dazzle customers and jewelers alike.
Second, only to diamonds in durability, sapphires are a very popular gemstone choice. In fact, the market size for sapphires was valued at over $6,690 million in 2020 and is projected to climb to over $10,932 million by 2028. Just as they range in color, sapphires vary in price as well, going from $25 to more than $200,000 per carat.
Regardless if you’re in the market for a nice sapphire pendant, looking for a diamond alternative, or simply curious about sapphires, it’s crucial to understand not only the colors and cut selections but also the cost (Source).
Don’t let the gravity of sapphires overwhelm you; taking the time to understand the components of sapphires is well worth it.
- Everything You Need to Know about Sapphire Gemstones
- What Is a Sapphire?
- What Makes Sapphires Expensive?
- Sapphire Ring Examples
- Price by Carat for Different Color Sapphires
- Pricing Synthetic vs. Natural
- Ask a Professional
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- How Much Do Emeralds Cost (& How Are They Valued)
Sapphire gemstones are not only popular but also incredibly valuable. They’re a top choice for engagement rings and exist as the birthstone of September. But Virgos are the only ones who appreciate sapphires: They’ve been admired and worn by royalty, celebrities, and anyone else who values a durable, brilliant gem.
Here’s everything you need to know about sapphire gemstones.
Sapphire is a gemstone from the corundum family — a family of gems that includes ruby and sapphire. Of jewelry-colored gems, sapphire is considered one of “the Big Three”: emerald, ruby, and sapphire.
These gorgeous gemstones are extremely durable and are commonly associated with love and romance. They can also be relatively expensive, depending on which cut, color, and weight of the sapphire.
Sapphires can range greatly in cost. When evaluating the value and price of a sapphire, appraisers look at the four C’s: clarity, color, cut, and carat weight.
Clarity is a metric by which sapphires can be evaluated. A sapphire’s clarity grade is determined by the number of materials inside the gemstone, any imperfections that could affect its appearance, and the overall structural integrity of the sapphire.For example, the higher the clarity of the gem, the more expensive it will be.
One of the primary factors that affect a sapphire’s worth is color. In general, gems that have a uniform, bright color are more expensive. Sapphires come in a range of stunning colors, and each color can vary in price.
The sapphire’s cut — which can refer to the shape, proportion, and finish — affects price through the gem’s brilliance, final weight, cutting styles, and minimizing inclusions.
Finally, the sapphire’s weight is considered. Pricing will generally go up with the carat weight.
It’s no surprise that these gemstones have been dazzling humanity for thousands of years.
Sapphires have existed since the beginning of mankind. These gems have historically been linked to royalty, and legend and lore claim that sapphires can actually protect against fraud and even poison.
Sapphires appealed to the elites of ancient Greece and Rome as they were thought to guard the wearer against both jealousy and harm.
During the Middle Ages, clerics thought of sapphires as symbols of heaven. The ancient Persians took that belief a step further, believing that the world sat atop a monstrously-sized sapphire, an explanation for the bright blue sky.
Sapphires were found in Kashmir in the late 19th century thanks to a landslide in the Himalayas. This landside uncovered a huge pocket of blue sapphires. Thousands of large sapphires were collected from 1882 to 1887. Since then, sapphire production hasn’t stopped.
Today, sapphires are one of the most popular gems and have been worn by everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Mary-Kate Olsen.
Even though sapphires are generally thought of as blue, not all sapphires look the same.
Although many people envision sapphires as blue, these gems can come in a variety of different colors, with the exception being red. Red gems in the corundum family are considered rubies. Any other color and that gem is considered a sapphire. Interestingly enough, lots of sapphires sold today are more gray in color.
These other colors — including pink, white, violet, orange, green, purple and yellow — are often referred to as “fancy sapphires.” The brilliant colors of sapphires come from the elements from which they’re made, such as chromium and titanium.
One element, called vanadium, can actually affect the sapphire’s color to the point that it can change. For example, in incandescent light, sapphires with vanadium might appear as one color but seem to “change” colors when exposed to a fluorescent light source or daylight.
Just as a sapphire’s color can differ from gem to gem, its size also varies.
The specific gravity (SG) or density of sapphires can also affect their size and weight. That means that if you were to compare a 5.5-millimeter round sapphire, opal, and diamond cut the exact same way, they would all have different weights. Whereas the diamond might be about a carat, the sapphire will probably be over 1 carat.
The size and weight, among other factors, will affect a sapphire’s pricing.
Like most aspects of sapphires, the pricing can vary greatly. Factors that can affect a sapphire’s price include weight, color, and cut.
When compared to diamonds, sapphires are usually less costly than the former. Still, these gems can be very expensive. In fact, the blue Kashmir sapphire, which is pretty rare, can be worth over $200,000 per carat. Depending on the gem’s size, other pure blue sapphires can sell for $2,000–$10,000 per carat.
How rare a sapphire is can also affect the price.
In comparison to non-gem corundum, sapphires that are gem-quality are much rarer.Of gem-grade corundum, blue sapphire is the most common. When people are shopping for sapphires, most are in search of a deep blue gem. Still, this doesn’t mean that the gem isn’t valuable.
In addition to its origins, a sapphire’s composition can affect the price and appearance of the gem.
Sapphires are extremely dense and compact. As a variety of corundum, a sapphire’s chemical composition can be found in its chemical formula, aluminum oxide: Al₂O₃. That means sapphires are two parts of aluminum and three parts of oxygen.
The gem’s axes are found in a hexagonal crystal with a total of four axes. While three are equal in length, one is unequal. As such, it intersects the other axes at a 90-degree angle. The three axes of equal length intersect at a 60-degree angle.
Regardless of the composition, all sapphires are considered the birthstone of September.
Sapphires are considered the birthstone for the month of September. Traditionally, this gemstone has represented truth, royalty, sincerity, and faithfulness. The September birthstone has been adored for centuries, and many Virgos today have a special appreciation for this gem.
The September birthstone is popularly sought after for necklaces, earrings, rings, pendants, bracelets, and even engagement rings for not only its brilliance but also the fire of the gem.
A sapphire’s brilliance — in other words, the light reflected from the interior of the gemstone — is colored as opposed to white. The brilliance of sapphires should ideally be full of color from every angle. If the sapphire isn’t cut properly, the brilliance would be noticeably lacking.
Clarity is another factor that can affect the overall appearance and quality of the gemstone.
Sapphires have a handful of inclusions, such as needles. Needles are mineral inclusions that are long and thin, just like a needle. Sapphires also have other clarity aspects, like color zoning, mineral crystals, color branding, and semi-healed breaks that can almost look like a fingerprint.
Aside from clarity, people considering sapphires should also keep in mind the sapphire’s impressive hardness.
As a member of the corundum family, sapphires are the second hardest mineral, followed only by diamonds. Corundum ranks 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness. For reference, a diamond has a ranking of 10. As such, sapphires are very durable.
Although the durability doesn’t change from sapphire to sapphire, these gems are sometimes able to change color.
A few types of gemstones have a color change optical phenomenon, and the sapphire is a perfect example. This phenomenon is also known as photochromism. Sapphires’ changing color appearance can vary due to the lighting environment.
Sapphires also present other phenomena, such as asterism and chatoyancy. The star sapphire is a great example of asterism: a distinct star pattern caused by inclusions. The “cat’s eye effect” — also known as chatoyancy — of sapphires refers to a bright band on the sapphire’s surface. This is a direct effect caused by the light’s reflection.
A sapphire’s cut can influence the color and overall price as well.
A rough sapphire’s shape will affect the size and shape of the gem. The most common crystal form for rough sapphires is a hexagonal pyramid that’s barrel- or spindle-shaped. Cutters aim to cut the gem in such a way that it keeps the ideal proportions, has the best color, and keeps the most weight possible.
Though the styles of cuts can change over time, the actual gem has been a constant favorite.
There are a great number of famous sapphire ring examples. One such example is Napoléon’s engagement ring for his fiancé, Joséphine. The gorgeous sapphire ring was sold for over $1 million in France in 2013.
The late Queen Elizabeth II wore the infamous Stuart Sapphire — featured on the Imperial State Crown — on her coronation day. Currently, the sapphire is available to view in the Tower of London, along with the other crown jewels.
However, Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t the only Royal Family member to sport sapphires. Princess Diana of Wales had a gorgeous sapphire engagement ring that was later passed down to Prince Harry following her death. However, when Prince William decided to propose to Kate Middleton, he asked his brother for the sapphire ring and used the gem-studded ring for their engagement.
Still, you don’t have to be royalty to be able to afford a sapphire gemstone.
Sapphires can vary in price, selling for $25 to more than $200,000 per carat. This is in part due to the fact that these gems can range in size as well; sapphires weigh a few points, or they can weigh hundreds of carats, which can affect the price.
Color is one of the most important factors when considering the cost of sapphires.
The tone is another way in which sapphires are evaluated. For example, sapphires that are dark in color are very common. Unfortunately, they also are not as valuable as other variations.
Because sapphires that were naturally formed are both less common and very sought after, lab-created sapphires are available at a lower price per carat than their natural sapphire counterparts.
For 1 carat, the price of blue sapphires can range from about $450 to $1,600. The closer to a pure blue the sapphire is, the better. Saturation is arguably even more important than hue. Although large, commercial-quality blue sapphires aren’t common, they’re typically more available than fine-quality gems.
Even so, blue sapphires are generally the most expensive.
Like all sapphires, the cost of a yellow sapphire will vary based on the cut, quality, color, and carat weight.
Pink sapphires are decently affordable, especially when compared to pink diamonds. For example, while a pink diamond that’s 1.5 carats might sell for over $6,000, a pink sapphire of the same weight might cost around $1,800 or less.
Although there is technically no such thing as “red sapphires,” these gems are more commonly known as rubies. Fine-quality rubies can be incredibly expensive. You can generally find rubies for a few hundred dollars, but some gems can sell for over $1,000,000 per carat.
Usually, purple sapphires are going to be more expensive than yellow or green sapphires, but they’ll still be less costly than blue gemstones. These mid-range fancy sapphires can sell for around $300 to over $45,000.
Besides color, the method by which the gem was created can alter the cost.
Synthetic (also known as lab-created) sapphires and natural sapphires are usually priced differently. Whether the sapphire is synthetic or natural, both will be made of corundum; this makes the two types of sapphires visually indistinguishable from each other.
In general, synthetic sapphires will be less expensive.For example, when looking at a blue sapphire, natural gems can range from $30 to over $50 per carat. On the other hand, synthetic blue sapphires will be about $8 to $10 less expensive than natural stones.
However, there are some synthetic sapphires that could sell for about the same price as natural sapphires due to how close the synthetic sapphire formation is to natural.
Speaking with a professional or sapphire expert can help immensely when deciding between synthetic and natural or when considering other factors.
When shopping for sapphires, it can be extremely beneficial to find a trusted jewelry professional. Consider speaking with jewelers, gemologists, retailers, and even auctioneers about sapphires. These experts can answer any questions you may have about purchasing these beautiful gemstones and can often point you in the right direction based on your sapphire preferences.
Sapphires are some of the most gorgeous gemstones available on the market today. These gems have been used throughout human history and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, cuts, and colors.
Although they make great alternatives for other gems, such as diamonds, sapphires have no problem holding their own as one of the “Big Three” in gemstones.
Sapphires are thoroughly embedded in ancient texts and in the hearts of humanity and will continue to find their place in pendants, necklaces, engagement rings, and other fine jewelry.
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