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Article: Sapphire


Sapphire Basics and Characteristics

  • Sapphire is a variety of corundum, consisting of aluminum oxide with trace elements.
  • It is typically blue, but can also occur in yellow, purple, orange, and green colors.
  • Red corundum stones are called rubies, not sapphires.
  • Natural sapphires are cut and polished into gemstones for jewelry.
  • They can also be created synthetically for industrial or decorative purposes.
  • Sapphires in colors other than blue are called fancy sapphires.
  • Fancy sapphires can be found in yellow, orange, green, brown, purple, violet, and other hues.
  • Blue sapphires are evaluated based on the purity of their blue hue.
  • The highest prices are paid for pure blue sapphires with vivid saturation.

Different Types of Sapphires

  • Blue sapphire exists in various mixtures of primary and secondary hues.
  • Violet and green are common secondary hues found in blue sapphires.
  • Gems with pure blue hue and vivid saturation command higher prices.
  • Parti sapphires exhibit two or more colors within a single stone.
  • Parti sapphires are not commonly used in mainstream jewelry.
  • Pink sapphires occur in shades from light to dark pink.
  • The deeper the pink color, the higher their value.
  • Star sapphires exhibit a phenomenon called asterism, which creates a star-like pattern on the surface of the stone.
  • Color-change sapphires exhibit different colors in different lighting conditions.

Sapphire Treatments and Enhancements

  • Sapphires can be treated by heating them to enhance their appearance.
  • Other treatments include diffusion and beryllium treatment.
  • Lattice diffusion treatments add impurities to enhance color.
  • Disclosure of enhancements is required by the United States Federal Trade Commission.

Sapphire Mining and Origins

  • Sapphires are mined from alluvial deposits or underground workings.
  • Commercial mining locations include Afghanistan, Australia, Myanmar, etc.
  • Classic metamorphic sapphires from Kashmir, Burma, and Sri Lanka are highly valued.
  • Madagascar is the world leader in sapphire production, followed by Australia.
  • Kashmir-origin sapphires have a superior vivid blue hue.

Synthetic Sapphire and Applications

  • Synthetic sapphire can be produced using the Verneuil process.
  • Synthetic sapphire has various industrial applications.
  • It is used in watch crystals, optical windows, and electronics.
  • Synthetic sapphire is chemically identical to natural sapphire.
  • Synthetic sapphire is often more affordable than natural sapphire.
  • Sapphire windows have a wide optical transmission band.
  • Sapphire wafers are used in the semiconductor industry for devices based on gallium nitride.

Sapphire Data Sources

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