Buying a top-quality sapphire may seem like a straightforward process today. With the growth in online gem and jewellery traders, the entry of newer sapphire trading nations; all of which have added to the supply of this precious gemstone. Which means the opportunity of getting hold of this much sought after gemstone may not be too difficult for those seeking a quick purchase. However this is where things get tricky. For the abundance of a certain variety of gemstone on the market, does not imply the prevalence of quality of the said good. When one is seeking a precious gemstones, which, depending on who you are talking to, often involves a relatively large investment. Which means that getting the purchasing decision right, to get your money’s worth, and ensure the top quality of the product requires a bit of study. Here we will provide a quick overview of the key hurdles that you need to be aware when going for a top quality sapphire.
Not Researching your Jeweller/Gem Stores Credentials
This point cannot be stressed enough. Given the plethora of many online, and brick and motor gem stores that are out there, it is very easy to get confused and overwhelmed by the sheer number of gem buying options, and the vast range of sapphires they promise to sell you. However, being able to promise you one thing and being able to deliver on those expectations is a different matter. When it comes to the world of gemstones, the idea of the quality of the sapphire, the authenticity of the jeweller, and the reliability of their support services are all key factors that need to be considered, when assessing your destination for gemstones. For when it comes to this type of gemstone, the factors that determine its quality are quite varied, and the chances of getting it wrong, when it comes to acquiring a top-quality sapphire: one that scores highly on the 6Cs of Sapphires (see below) is quite high. As a first step, start by assessing the quality of the sapphire range and matching that with the credentials of the jeweller who provides them.
Quality gem stores and jewellers that trade in sapphire are often also in the business of trading in diamonds. And the good ones are often certified by the GIA. In the world of sapphires, certified jewellers and gem companies often will be able to produce a specific lab report on the gemstone of your choice. An informative document that breaks down key factors of the sapphire stone: including the cut, shape, colour, colour range, country of origin, dimensions etc.
Jewellers who provide a Limited range of options
Following on from the above, a key point when it comes to assessing the quality of the gemstones is another jeweller related factor. Presuming that you are buying a sapphire from a jeweller, and not a gem merchant, or a gem company that does not engage in the business of fine jewellery. In such instances is important to note that companies that trade in top quality gemstones and are also in the business of jewellery making and trade, often are able to provide a wide range of jewellery options, that take advantage of the beauty and glow of sapphires and other gemstones. In the world of fine jewellery, this important means being able to provide highly valued engagement rings: arguably the top choice in fine jewellery. Traders who are engaged in the business of engagement rings, at least the good ones, often manage a relatively large inventory of quality gemstones. Which are not only limited to sapphires and diamonds but also include other precious stones like rubies, amethysts and garnets etc. And importantly offer special engagement ring ranges that feature an array of designs and customization options. These capabilities are key indicators for those seeking a credible jeweller who is able to provide one: quality sapphire gemstones, two: an expansive jewellery range, including engagement rings, and three: a wider array of other gemstone based jewellery. Since the business of fine jewellery and gemstones don’t operate alone. Having a stronger presence in these other key areas are good indicators of jewellers standards, and hence their gemstones are likely to be of a higher quality.
Not learning about the Sapphires Country of Origin
Alright, this is where things get interesting. You see when it comes to the trade-in sapphires there are a number of top trading countries: with nations like Thailand, Myanmar, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), leading the way. True to their strength in the trade of these quality gemstones, the sapphires from these regions also come with a number of, what could be understood as country-specific features. In terms of the abundance of the specific gemstone, the geological character of the regions, and the kind of treatment the gemstones from these regions are subjected to, and above all the history of gem mining and trade in these specific regions, the nature of the gemstones also carry certain qualities. Thus it is not wrong to say that certain countries ‘do’ certain gemstones better. For example, Myanmar is a country that is rich in corundum deposits, however, its gemstone mainstay has been its great rubies: which are rich in deep red and hence are sought after in the world market. Interestingly this also applies in the world of sapphires. For example, for a while, the trade of sapphires that were sourced from the region of Kashmir gained great attention for their distinct qualities. So when it comes to buying a quality sapphire, which is the same as avoiding the purchase of a poor quality sapphire, how important is the country of origin. We think it is quite a bit.
Ceylon Sapphires: A Marker of Quality?
When it comes to top-quality sapphires the leader in terms of the country of origins is Ceylon (Sri Lanka). A country that is home to some of the world’s largest and diverse range of sapphires, Ceylon has a long and rich history in the mining and trade of these gemstones. A number of factors distinguish Ceylon sapphires from those that are sourced from other parts of the world:
The wider selection of coloured gemstones. That comes with deeper and brighter colours.
Sapphire colour range, that differs not only in terms of colours (blue, pink, yellow, white) but also in terms of shades.
A country that specializes in natural sapphires, with no lab-grown variants.
Expert treatment of the gemstones (known as Curing). A process that ensures the inner quality and improves the character of the gemstone.
These are some of the factors that help distinguish Ceylon sapphires from others in the market. The strength of the Ceylon sapphire range means that jewellers and gem companies that trade, and better, specialize in the trade of Ceylon sapphires bring with them a trademark of quality, knowledgeability of the gemstones. Which will ensure the final product (e.g. an engagement ring) is likely to meet the highest standards.
Offerings Made by Newer Entrants
As noted, sapphires are sourced from many parts of the world. For besides the main gemstone mining nations, in recent times newer entrants, in the form of Australia, United States have begun to introduce their own sapphire ranges. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the addition of newer varieties of sapphires: that can vary in terms of colour, tone etc. However, for those who are seeking a quality sapphire, that has stood the test of time in terms of the history of the trade-in gemstones, sapphires that contain rich colour variants: like the Royal Blue Sapphire, and Cornflower Blue sapphire then it is wise to seek out the more traditional centres.
Not Considering the 6Cs
No discussion of sapphire quality is ever complete without a careful study of the sapphires’ characteristics; which in practice basically corresponds to the same qualities that are used to determine gemstone value in diamonds: carat, cut, colour and clarity. The problem, however, is that in the world of sapphires there is a notable lack of clarity in how these gemstone standards are understood and applied. Whilst the basic principles that relate to the 4Cs that are used to determine quality in diamonds also work in relation to corundum based gemstones, a deeper understanding of these principles, and importantly, on knowing how these apply uniquely in the world of sapphires. In addition to the 4Cs, at Brilliyond we have developed an industry-first framework for learning and measuring the quality of sapphires: The 6Cs of sapphires. This is a framework that effectively applies, and builds on the 4Cs, engaging the unique characteristics of the sapphire, whilst engaging the next 2Cs: Country and Curing.