Sapphire Buyer Guide
When buying a sapphire the most important aspects to consider are the 4 C’s. They are color, color, color and color! Yes, unlike the universal grading system used to value diamonds, 70% of a colored gemstone’s value is based on its color. Two blue sapphires of the same carat weight may vary vastly in value depending on their color.
The color quality of a sapphire depends in three parameters; hue, tone and saturation. These parameters are used in conjunction to determine color quality of a sapphire. A velvety to violetish blue sapphire with a strong saturation without compromising the brightness, in medium to medium dark tones can command a higher value.
Clarity or the level of inclusions play rather a different role in colored gemstone like sapphires and rubies than in diamonds. A sapphire with a rich velvety texture is considered more valuable and desirable than a sapphire with diamond like transparency, even if it means there are minor presence of rutile. The rich velvety texture is due to the minor inclusions in the natural sapphire giving it that brilliant coveted look. This is more like a person’s character. It is like ‘that’ what makes her who she is!
Sapphire cut has more meaning to it than just being round, square, oval or pear shaped. A cutter evaluates the rough crystal sapphire stone to determine the ultimate shape and size of the gem. Orienting the cut to achieve the desirable color is the final goal of the cutter. In comparing to diamonds, the best sapphire cuts have a higher depth/width ratio. Deep cut sapphires preserve weight and shows off more color whereas shallow cut sapphires appear bigger for theirweight and looks lighter than the deep cut ones. For a rough guide on sapphire sizes see our gemstone size charts.
Sapphire Weight (Carat)
The carat weight of a sapphire depends on the density of the precious stone. The weight does not necessarily define the value of the stone. Sapphires range from few to hundreds of carats. The value of two sapphires of the same carat weight may significantly differ from each other depending on their color.
For those who like more homework, an accurate color/clarity evaluation chart printed in accordance to CMYK/RGB/Hexadecimal color/clarity formula by a respected gemological authority can be used to determine the color quality of a sapphire. There is no universal grading system to grade a sapphire. Respectable gemological institutions have developed their own grading schemes to rate the overall quality of a sapphire. Having said this, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
The origin of the sapphire gemstone is one of the most highly influential factors in determining its value. Ceylon, currently known as Sri Lanka, is the world’s oldest known source for the best quality blue sapphires. Blue sapphire gemstones that originates in Sri Lanka are popularly known as “Ceylon Blue Sapphires”. Gemstone and especially blue sapphires found in Srilanka known for their nearly flawless quality and large sizes command the highest price in the market.
Ceylon blue sapphires are renowned for their deep intense blue color, higher clarity and brilliance. The world’s finest quality sapphire stones originated from Sri Lanka. All three of the most precious, largest faceted, blue sapphire gemstones in the world - 486 carat Blue Giant of the Orient, 422.9 carat Logan Blue Sapphire (both displayed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC,USA ) and the famous 400 carat blue sapphire “Blue Belle” that adorns the British crown, originated from Srilanka.
Ceylon or Srilanka is called “Rathna Deepa” in the native language and it means “land of gems”. Srilanka has a 2,400 million year geological history and a 2,500 year old documented history of civilization. Sri Lanka has been mining gemstones since 500 B.C. This country still has the highest density of gem deposits compared to land mass and mines 40 of the 85 varieties of gemstones in the world.
In the words of Marco Polo, "I want you to understand that the island of Ceylon is, for its size, the finest island in the world, and from its streams come rubies, sapphires, topazes, amethyst and garnet".