What Determines The Price Of Blue Sapphires?
Dazzling. Mesmerizing. Magical. The sapphire is all these qualities manifested in the form of a ravishing jewel. Sapphire is most recognizable in its iconic blue color. But it also appears in different colors that vary in rarity, value, and uniqueness. We will be taking you through all you need to know about what determines the price and value of natural blue sapphires in this detailed pricing guide.
Before we delve in, an important fact should be mentioned. Natural blue sapphires without treatments are rare and highly valued. Treated natural sapphires are more common, cheaper, and have been treated to enhance their color. These sapphires are regularly used in fine jewelry and are used by all major jewelers who use sapphires in their work.
Synthetic sapphires too possess similar qualities as natural sapphires, but have been artificially made using a method called the Verneuli Process. Synthetic sapphires cost less than natural sapphires. They are commonly found in fashion jewelry, but aren’t used in fine jewelry.
One of the most important insights to keep in mind is that sapphires, unlike diamonds, are not graded in a uniform way. Diamonds are highly commoditized and are valued after evaluating the 4 C’s: carats, cut, clarity, and color. Conversely, it is not easy to make price comparisons between one sapphire and another due to highly variable factors which we will discuss further below.
Sometimes a sapphire’s beauty and value is in the eye of the beholder, and simply comes down to how much more another person is willing to pay for it. For the most part though, a sapphire’s worth is established after evaluating the following factors:
Let’s see why these factors affect the value of sapphires in more detail.
Color is, beyond a reasonable doubt, the most important element that influences the sapphire grading process. The more vibrant, pure, and vividly saturated a sapphire is, the higher the price it can command. A blue sapphire’s worth may not be as high if it is too dark or too light in color.
Blue sapphire pricing at Gemdaia is based on a sapphire grading scale that ranges from A grade (good quality) to AAAA grade (exceptional quality). Unheated natural sapphires with a high saturation of color fall into the AAAA category and usually command between $2,000 – $2,750 for a 1 carat stone.
At the end of the day, color is a personal choice, and there is a wide range of unheated and heated stones that are available for different budgets in the blue sapphire pricing scale. The sapphire color chart above will give you a better idea of what different sapphire color grades actually look like.
The size of a sapphire has a major influence in its price. A sapphire’s worth exponentially increases with every carat. A 3 carat blue sapphire for instance, can be 5 to 8 times the price of a 1 carat sapphire. Take this 2.12 carat blue sapphire ring which is priced at approximately $2,500 per carat for example.This 3 carat Royal Blue sapphire however, commands a much higher value, checking in at around $ 5,300 per carat.
Although there have been record finds of very large sapphires weighing more than 1,000 carats in the rough, finding commercial-quality sapphires even larger than 5 carats is considered extremely rare.
A blue sapphire’s region of origin is another factor that will determine its value. Blue sapphires are mined in countries like Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, as well and the Kashmir and West African regions. Where sapphires come from can determine their own unique colors, qualities, characteristics, and price.
Blue sapphires from the Kashmir region are highly valued because of their unique beauty and distinctive blue color. Kashmiri sapphires are also extremely limited in supply. Blue sapphires from this region are therefore valued the highest in the world, sometimes fetching up to $50,000 per carat for a 1 – 2 carat stone.
Burmese blue sapphires are ranked only behind Kashmiri sapphires in value. These sapphires, like their Kashmiri relatives, are limited in supply and possess a special color that is highly desired by gem enthusiasts around the world.
Sri Lankan blue sapphires are more readily available thanks to a proliferation of gem-bearing valleys in the country’s central highlands. These sapphires are beautifully colored and are highly sought after, but their steady availability make them less expensive than Kashmiri and Burmese sapphires.
Sapphires from Madagascar possess similar qualities to Sri Lankan sapphires, but are more likely to be darker in color and at times less expensive. Most blue sapphires nowadays are mined in Madagascar and are the most readily available type of blue sapphire in the world.
Blue sapphires from Thailand and West Africa have darker appearances, and they are widely used in commercial quality jewelry owing to their cheaper prices.
It is common knowledge that a majority of sapphires in this day and age are heat treated to enhance color and clarity. Natural heat-treated sapphires are widely used by leading jewelry houses and brands around the world. Unheated stones are quite the opposite. Natural, unheated sapphires are much rarer and fetch premium prices compared to heated stones.
A 3 carat untreated sapphire with the same qualities, for instance, will be valued 3-4 times more than a 3 carat stone that has been heat-treated. Trained gemologists can easily identify the differences between heated and unheated sapphires by studying the inclusions inside the stone. We will explain gemstone inclusions in more detail further in the section on clarity below.
A sapphire’s clarity has an effect on its value, but it isn’t as influential a factor as it is for diamonds. Sapphires are the result of millions of years of geological activity. As a result, it is common for sapphires to contain miniscule imperfections caused by the presence of other mineral substances in them that affect its overall clarity.
These imperfections are called “inclusions”. Inclusions can be visible to the naked eye, and can be examined in more detail under magnification.
Sapphires without inclusions visible to the eye are called “eye-clean”. Eye-clean sapphires are rare, and valued the highest when considering the clarity of a stone in the sapphire grading process. However, even the best stones can contain inclusions. The absence of inclusions can also be an indicator of a sapphire being heat-treated or being synthetic.
A stone’s clarity is considered to be of a high grade even though they may be included in a way that doesn’t affect its sparkle or durability. Although these kinds of stones are less valuable than eye-clean sapphires, they are nevertheless a good choice since their beauty isn’t compromised.
Moderately included sapphires are less expensive as the inclusions could affect the sparkle of the stone.
Heavily included sapphires and severely included sapphires are priced even less since they are less durable than high grade sapphires. These stones do not display the brilliance that sapphires are famed for, and do not go recommended for these reasons.
We at Gemdaia recommend slightly included or eye-clean sapphires for jewelry.
A sapphire’s worth is also measured by its sparkle. Sapphires that reflect light better and display good brilliance are naturally priced at a higher premium than stones that don’t reflect light well. Some stones may appear duller, with darker hues.
The best stones on the other hand, sparkle brilliantly and possess vivid hues that make them more pleasing to the eye. We at Gemdaia look for this particular factor in great detail when procuring our sapphires. In fact, we only recommend sapphires with a dazzling sparkle to our clients.
There are several factors to consider before purchasing a sapphire. Ultimately, it is the beauty of a sapphire in the eye of the beholder that makes the final say, but all the above factors should be thoroughly analyzed in order to make an informed decision that will give you the most value for your money.
At Gemdaia, we specialize in procuring ethically-sourced, natural sapphires directly from partner mines. You can speak to us for more information about natural blue sapphires or explore the exquisite stones that we have available in-stock in our online shop.
Our online bespoke jewelry creation service can help you create custom pieces of jewelry with exquisite sapphires that can dazzle, while giving you complete value for money.
We hope our guide to sapphire pricing has been helpful in giving you more information about these beautiful gemstones. You can look forward to more useful information about gemstones in our upcoming blogs!