Sapphires come from Afghanistan, some African countries, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, India, Kashmir, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and some areas in the United States. Not all sapphires sold in the market today are 100% natural. Many sapphires have been artificially enhanced through:
- High temperature heating
- Color or chemical treatments
- Glass filling
The products of these enhancements are truly breathtaking. However, by artificially enhancing the gemstones, they can no longer be considered rare or natural. In buying natural sapphire, you should know the following:
1. Color. Many people think that all sapphires are blue. The truth is sapphires come in a host of different colors some of which are:
- Padparadscha (pink-orange)
You can also find star sapphires. These are sapphires which have six needle-like rays that look like a star.
2. Cut. A well cut stone brings out the color and sparkle of a natural sapphire. Most sapphires are cut into an oval or rounded rectangular shape. There are also cushion shaped sapphires. Other fancier shapes are rounds, squares, emerald cuts, baguette shapes and many more.
3. Clarity. Flawless gemstones are indeed valued highly. However, having tiny inclusions can also mean that your sapphire has not undergone any heat or chemical enhancement.
4. Size or carat. The price of the sapphire will depend on the color, cut, clarity and the weight or size of the gemstone measured in carats. You can buy sapphires under and over 1 carat (ct).
It is quite easy to buy natural sapphire online. However, it is also easy to be fooled into buying a ‘natural gemstone' that has actually been artificially enhanced. When buying online:
1. Find a trusted and reputable seller. With the many online gemstones and jewelry sellers, it is not easy to tell which ones are trustworthy and which ones are fly-by-night operations. When you find an online seller, check the site if it is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The Natural Sapphire Company and Jewel Basket are just two online stores selling natural sapphires that are accredited by the BBB.
2. Inquire about their policies. Make sure that you buy only from an online company with a comprehensive return policy. Choose one that provides you with a fulltime warranty on your purchase. Check their shipping, insurance and liability policies as well. You wouldn't want to pay exorbitant fees on top of your expensive gemstone purchase.
3. Request for a certificate. A certificate of authenticity should tell you where the sapphire came from, its' appraised retail value, as well as information on its color, shape, weight and more.
4. Select a seller with a physical store. It is best to buy any jewelry direct from the store. When choosing an online seller, opt for one that has a physical store that you can visit so you can see the actual stones.
Buying natural sapphires online can be risky. With the many occurrences of internet fraud, it is easy for anyone to be taken for a ride. When shopping over the web, make sure that you have verified the online company with the BBB or at least checked online for any reviews by other customers. Most importantly, make sure you know what you are buying - natural as opposed to enhanced sapphire. You should also understand the terms: color, cut, clarity and carat. Consult with family or friends who are knowledgeable about buying gemstones especially if you are a first time buyer.