Sapphires are probably our favourite gemstone here at Oval + Pear and something that makes them even more special is that they are mined all over the world (including here in Australia). Each location produces a sapphire which has their own unique qualities. For example Kashmir sapphires are know for their colour and silk inclusions, Australian produces amazing parti sapphires and Madagascan or Sri Lankan sapphires come in a rainbow of colours. Did you know that sapphires are also mined in Montana, USA? These sapphires have gained a lot of attention recently in the jewellery world as well as with collectors. Here are some reasons why:
- Sapphires have been mined in Montana since the second half of the 1800s. They were used predominantly for industrial purposes as they were green in colour which was undesirable.
- The four main mining areas are Rock Creek, Yogo Gulch, Dry Cottonwood Creek and along the Missouri River northeast of Helena.
- No one knows where they came from! The original source of sapphires in Montana is still being studied by geologists.
- Montana sapphires come in a variety of sorbet/pastel colours. These include purple, yellow and teal.
- Often Montana sapphires are heated to improve/intensify their colours which results in lovely shades of green, teal and blue. However, Yogo Gulch is renowned for producing excellent untreated blue stones.
- Montana sapphires generally don’t come in large sizes and are commonly under 1ct.
- They are ethically mined by companies ranging in size.
Montana sapphires are a lovely option for any ring. They’re array of colour will leave you spoilt for choice.
The Natural Sapphire Company – Sapphire Mining In Montana
Tradition used to dictate that an engagement ring needs to be a diamond (check out our MythBusters blog about that here). These days the options for engagement ring stones are endless. Here we break down three of the best options out there.
- Diamonds are a classic option for an engagement ring and a very popular choice.
- They rate 10 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale which makes them very durable and appropriate for everyday wear.
- While the round brilliant cut is the most popular cut, diamonds come in a variety of shapes including squares, ovals and even hearts.
- You can make your ring more unique by choosing a coloured diamond as they come in a range of shades. At the more affordable end are champagne diamonds ranging through to the highly prized/priced pink and blue diamonds. There’s even rare colours of purple, red and green though extremely expensive!
- An alternative to mined diamonds, which is gaining popularity, are lab grown diamonds. These diamonds have the exact same chemical/crystal/molecular structure as a natural diamond but are created in labs instead of in the mine. This option is popular for people wanting a diamond at a lesser price as lab grown diamonds do not cost as much as mined ones.
- Second to diamonds, sapphires are a popular choice for engagement rings.
- On the Moh’s hardness scale sapphires rate nine which puts them second to only diamonds in their durability. However, sapphires are less likely to chip than diamonds as they have better resistance to cleavage.
- Sapphires come in a rainbow of colors with blue and teal being the most popular choices. You can find sapphires in purple, green, yellow, colourless and orange but red sapphires are better known as rubies!
- They provide a unique look for engagement rings as no two sapphires will look the same (to the naked eye).
- Sapphires are native to Australia and provide an excellent option to people looking to support local and also who value transparency in the mining process as it is much easier to track on your own soil.
- There have been many diamond alternatives used across the centuries but the best option is moissanite!
- It rates 9.25 on the Mon’s hardness scale making it more durable than sapphires but less than diamonds. An excellent everyday wear stone.
- While natural moissanite does exist it is very rare and the moissanite on the market is lab grown.
- It is a popular stone because it shows just as much, actually more, fire (rainbow sparkles) as a diamond!
- As it is a lab grown stone it provides an excellent option for the smaller budgets or those looking for a bigger ‘diamond’ look without paying as much. It also suits people who are looking to avoid buying a mined stone for ethical reasons.
While the choice of which stone to use in your ring is a very personal one there are so many options available to you that you’ll certainly find a stone which gives you the look you want, in your budget and respecting any ethical concerns you may have. If you would like to have a chat with Teagan about what stone would work best for your ring you can book an appointment with her here.
It’s Myth Buster time!
In the jewellery industry there are a lot of common misconceptions about engagement rings . Let us break down three of them for you.
Does Gold Only Come in Yellow?
- 24k pure gold does only come in yellow. However, mixing various alloys with the gold can create different coloured golds.
- Rose gold is a combination of gold and copper. The cooper gives it its pink tone.
- White gold was first patented in 1915 and was a combination of gold, palladium and zinc. Prior to this silver was the most common white metal used in jewellery while platinum had also gained popularity since the end of the 19th century.
- Gold can come in many different colours including green! Jewellers have used colour gold to decorate their designs for centuries.
Do Engagement Rings have to be Diamonds?
- Forms of engagement or betrothal rings have been around since the Roman period. They were often plain bands but sometimes included gemstones.
- The first recorded diamond engagement ring was give to Mary of Burgundy by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian upon their betrothal in 1477.
- While it took a bit of time for diamonds to gain the popularity they have today they did eventually become the stone of choice for engagement rings. This may be due to their durability and perceived rarity.
- Sapphires have also been a popular choice, as seen by Princess Diana’s engagement ring, and these days are closing the gap with diamonds are the preferred gemstone for engagement rings.
Are Diamonds Indestructible?
- Diamonds rate 10 on the Mohs Hardness scale making them the hardest of all gemstones.
- However, they have four cleavage directions, which are the “weakest direction in the molecular arrangement of the crystal”. (GIA, How to Protect A Diamond From Chipping. 2016)
- These cleavage planes mean that a diamond (while exceptionally hard) will not withstand force applied on a specific point and can cleave, chip or fracture if this happens.
- Sapphire and Ruby (Corundum) actually have one less cleavage direction making it less likely to chip!
GIA – How To Protect a Diamond
Lang Antiques – The Fascinating History of Platinum Jewellery
Sometimes it seems we speak a whole different language in the jewellery and gemmology world so we’ve decided to break down some of our more commonly used terms!
Alloy: A combination of metals fused together.
Basket Setting: A stone setting used in rings and other fine jewellery which has two horizontal bars joining the four claws.
Bezel Setting: A fine band of gold or other metal that encircles the stone to keep it secure and attached to the shank.
Brilliant Cut: A diamond cut featuring 58 facets. It can also be used for different stones and shapes.
CAD/Render: An abbreviation for Computer Aided Design which is used to design and engineer a piece of jewellery for casting. The render is a computer illustration of the final design.
Carat: Weight (mass) of a gemstone.
Claw/Prong: A section of the setting which holds/secures the stone by wrapping over a portion of the top of the stone. Often resembles a lion’s claw but can come in a variety of shapes.
Emerald Cut: A rectangular cut with cut corners and step cut facets.
Eye Clean: Inclusion which are not visible to the naked eye but may be seen under 10x magnification or stronger.
Gemmologist: A trained person who specialises in identifying, grading and appraising gemstones.
Grading: A gemstones official report on colour, cut, clarity, polish and sometimes origin.
Hardness: A measure of a gemstone’s resistance to scratching and abrasions. Measured on Mohs Hardness Scale.
Inclusion: A visible internal flaw in a gemstone which can include veils, clouds, other crystals and foreign objects.
Karat: Measurement of gold purity in the metal ranging from 9k to (pure) 24k.
Lab Grown: A gemstone (including diamonds and sapphires) which has the same chemical composition as a natural stone but grown in a laboratory rather than in the earth.
Oval Cut: A gemstone cut in the shape of an oval. Facet styles can include; brilliant, mixed and Portuguese.
Pear Cut: A gemstone cut in the shape of a pear/tear drop.
Prong Setting: A stone setting used in rings and other fine jewellery which has four or six claws which cradle/secure the stone and attach the shank. See Claw/Prong.
Salt and Pepper Diamond: A naturally grown diamond featuring several visible inclusions which give it a peppery appearance.
Setter: A trained person who specialises in securing stones into their setting eg basket, prong or bezel.
Shank: The circular band of the ring which wraps around your finger. Styles can include round, half round and square.
Solitaire: A ring stone setting featuring a single stone.
Tulip Setting: A decorative stone setting used for rings which resembles a tulip flower.