Sapphire is a mineral of the corundum family. Corundum comes in every color of the rainbow. Red corundum is called ruby, all other colors are called sapphires. Sapphire is a durable gemstone appropriate for all jewelry applications. Sapphires of varying quality are available in every price range.
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The Cost of Sapphires
Trying to determine the average cost of sapphires is comparable to discussing the average cost of homes. Which homes? Where? How many bedrooms do they have? What are the current market conditions effecting their value? Sapphire costs are affected by treatment, market conditions, size, color, clarity and origin. The price of a sapphire can range from pennies per carat for rough opaque stones to $10,000 or more per carat for the finest stones. To better understand this price range, all factors affecting sapphire values must be understood.
Sapphire can be treated in various ways to improve their clarity and color. Most stones are heated and some are diffused; a process which adds color to the stone. Heat treating is accepted and does not substantially diminish a stone's value. Diffusion is a true alteration of the stone's natural color. Diffused stones are not highly valued. Untreated stones of good quality have the highest value.
How Market Conditions Affect Sapphire Prices
Sapphires are bought and sold like other commodities. Their cost is based on supply and demand. If more sapphires are brought to market in a given year, prices may drop. If less are mined or some geo-political factors slow their importation, prices may rise.
Sapphires increase in value in proportion to their carat size. The price per carat also increases with size due to the rarity of larger stones. For instance, if a two-carat sapphire sells for $500 per carat, a 10-carat stone of the same quality could sell for $1,500 per carat or more.
The brightness, richness and purity of the color of a sapphire determines its value. Each color of sapphire is priced separately. The most valuable sapphires are true blue in tone without any other obvious colors present. In other words, they are just blue, not blue-green or blue-violet. Another highly valued sapphire is the padparasha. The padparasha sapphire is the color of the lotus flower: a medium-toned mix of pink and orange. Less valuable, but still in demand, are sapphires in strong yellows, pinks and violets.
The most valuable gemstones are very clear, resembling water, glass or crystal. This is true of sapphires, though they are not held to the same strict clarity standards as diamonds. Clarity flaws in some sapphires, called silk, can actually contribute to their value. The silk adds a soft, glowing, velvety appearance to fine stones.
When buying gemstones for fashion or pleasure, their origin should not be a major concern: choose a gemstone that you love. If you are investing in sapphires, origin does affect their value. Dick Hughes, gem expert and author of "Ruby & Sapphire," ranks the top three locales for blue sapphires in this fashion: Kashmir, The Mogok Mine in Burma and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).