Updated: Apr 25, 2022
Purchasing a sapphire through a jeweller in New Zealand will cost a premium, and often there is little in the way of choice. I attribute this to New Zealand's low population, resulting in a reduced market demand compared to other countries, and the high cost of holding precious gemstones mean that it is usually not viable for jewellers to hold a large selection of stock. Purchasing a gemstone through The Sapphire Merchant leads to bigger savings, allowing you to choose a larger gemstone for a smaller price tag. It can speed up the overall process and gives you much more choice.
When making such an investment, here are the basics...
Reports and documentation verify the authenticity of your sapphire. All sapphires are not created equally. First, you must distinguish between a natural sapphire and a lab-created sapphire. Unless you are purchasing through a reputable jeweller, the only way to tell (unless you have experience with gemstones) is with a laboratory report and/or a valuation report. These reports ensure that more than one trained professional has examined and evaluated the gemstone to establish its origin, physical properties, quality and value. The more documentation, the better! The Sapphire Merchant provides both a comprehensive laboratory report and the option of a valuation carried out by a reputable New Zealand based gemologist/valuer so you can be assured of what you are purchasing online. The Sapphire Merchant takes away the risk of buying gemstones online, and you can be assured of the quality and authenticity of our selection.
Buyers beware! Laboratory reports have been known to be falsified or counterfeited. However, a reputable laboratory will provide a barcode on the laboratory report. When the barcode is scanned, it will take you through to the same report documented online, confirming that the report is genuine and comes from the source that it states. Inclusions are your friend! Inclusions are the naturally occurring marks and imperfections in sapphire, and other gemstones, and they give good proof that your gemstone is natural. A flawless gemstone is rare, and the price would be reflective, costing upwards of $4000 - $10000 per carat. Inclusions give your sapphire uniqueness, personality and a one-of-a-kind thumbprint. Ideally, look for a gemstone that only has a small to moderate amount of inclusions. A heavily included sapphire can compromise the strength and general wear and tear of the gemstone.
Heated or unheated? This is one of the most common questions I get asked about sapphires. The majority of sapphires available on the market have gone through a heat-treating process, it is estimated as many as 98%. Heat treatment (sometimes referred to as thermal treatment) intensifies the colour and increases the clarity of a sapphire. Heat treatment does not affect the quality or the integrity of a sapphire. The price for a heated sapphire will be less than an unheated sapphire of the same specifications; however, they are often viewed as the same. Gem quality unheated sapphires are much rarer and on the current market blue and padparadscha options are commanding premium prices. When purchasing a sapphire I would recommend looking at both heated and unheated options. When making your final choice the most important factor is choosing a sapphire that you absolutely love!
Treated or untreated? Where the price of sapphire is greatly affected is with other treatments (excluding heat). Sometimes oil, lead glass, bismuth glass, composite silica, and cobalt treatments fill cracks in the gemstone. Beryllium light element can also be used to brighten or change the colour of the gemstone. If a sapphire has any of these treatments, then this significantly reduces its value. This is where a comprehensive laboratory report is worth its weight in gold. A laboratory will evaluate and report any treatments the gemstone has undergone. Because treated sapphires can often have deep fissures (that are filled), this can compromise the structure of the sapphire, making it less hardy to wear and tear. The Sapphire Merchant only stocks unheated and heated sapphires. We do not stock sapphires that have undergone further treatments. For this reason, you can always be assured of the quality of our gemstones. Sapphires rate 9 on the hardness scale, coming second to diamonds. This makes them an excellent choice for everyday wear. They will not scratch or damage easily.
Grading - The 4 C's (Carat, Colour, Cut and Clarity) are the physical properties evaluated when grading a sapphire. Small variations in each of these areas can have a big impact on the price of sapphire. It is the job of the valuer or gemologist to look at each of these areas closely and mark them on a scale—a scale of colour, a scale of clarity and a grade of cut. The Sapphire Merchant has simplified this complicated task by first, handpicking our stock with quality in mind, and second, offering an independent valuation service if needed.
The Sapphire Merchant handpicks each sapphire available on our website so you can be assured of authenticity and quality. Our mission is to offer quality, natural sapphires for all budgets and tastes. If you cannot find your perfect gemstone in our online store, contact Gemma today and she will source for you, the perfect option to meet your requirements.