It is no secret that jewelry artisans worldwide love the exquisite sapphires mined in Sri Lanka. These colorful nature’s treasures are well known as ‘Ceylon sapphires’ in the gemstone trade. However, one common problem for many is the Ceylon sapphire price. This article intends to be a guide for potential Ceylon sapphire buyers. Mainly to decide if they pay the right price and, more importantly, to know what factors influence the value.
Let’s start with the basics
What is a Ceylon Sapphire?
Ceylon sapphires are the cut and polished gemstones that belong to the corundum family mined in modern-day Sri Lanka, historically known as Ceylon. The unique feature of Ceylon originated sapphire is that they come in almost every color and shade. The rich history of Ceylon gem mining and trading dates back to 500BC, earning an exclusivity in the global gem industry.
The two most popular gemstones of Ceylon are the blue sapphire and the padparadscha sapphire. The latter is scarce, making it the rarest sapphire gemstone color found in nature.
Why Ceylon Sapphires are Expensive?
Sri Lanka is an island nation just south of India. A country with a developing economy backed by a manufacturing base mainly made of Agri produce, apparel, gems and fisheries. The vast majority of the export has sold under contract manufacturing agreements that inevitably lure more mediators between the source and point of consumption. The gemstone trade is not much different.
As with any supply chain, the price rises with the number of intermediaries involved, though there may not be actual value addition. A gemstone mined far in the countryside could change hands through many intermediaries before reaching the end-user halfway across the world.
Ceylon Sapphire Price Per Carat
Our comprehensive market study analyzes the Ceylon sapphire price per carat of the key colour varieties. The key pricing determinants are the 4Cs. This study also considered the sapphire treatments an additional pricing factor due to their relevance in modern-day gem trading. Some of the assumptions and parameters used concerning the 4Cs and sapphire treatments are described below.
Colour is, of course, the most significant deciding factor of not only the price but also what you are going after. This study looks at the most renowned Ceylon sapphire colours. The most frequently found sapphires in Sri Lanka are yellow and pink shades, followed by blue tones. All other colours listed in this study are moderately found. However, the Ceylon teal sapphires are somewhat rare, but these are abundant in supply to the world market from sources like Austalia and Madagascar; therefore, not considered a highly sought after colour of Ceylon sapphire anyway. One important point to note is that the Ceylon ruby is often referred to intense pink colour as pure red rubies are not readily found in Sri Lanka.
The next most significant price factor of any gemstone is clarity. Clarity is referred as to what level a gem is free from impurities, cleavage, fractures and internal parting planes. Internally flawless sapphires are extremely rare in nature as most of the sapphires advertised as such may at best fall into VVS category (very, very slightly included). This study considers the gemstones from VS (very slightly included) and above. Meaning there are no eye-visible inclusions, but some inclusions may be visible under magnification.
As with all sapphire sources, the vast majority of the Ceylon sapphires mined do have natural inclusions. An experienced lapidarist can eliminate the inclusions of the sapphires during the cutting process. Doing so will result in a lower yield. Gemstones with internal inclusions will be priced accordingly, taking the spread and visibility of the inclusion into consideration.
Another essential to discuss pricing factor of sapphire and other gemstones is the level of treatments. A significant portion of Ceylon sapphires mined in the country is found with something called silk. These are left out within the sapphire during the natural formation process. The silky stones are widely known in Sri Lanka as ‘Gewda’ sapphires. The transparency of these stones can be improved further by heat treatments which dilute these silky inclusions within the stone and give a more equally saturated color. This study considers the sapphires with no treatments or otherwise.
Until around a few decades back, Sri Lankan miners discarded these Gewda stones due to the inclusions. Thai gem traders who used to purchase Ceylon gemstones in large quantities started the heat treatment process, and since then, heat-treated sapphires have become a widely accepted variant. Heat-treated Ceylon sapphires are usually priced around 30% less than untreated stones.
One of the most crucial pricing determinants is the cut of the sapphire. Sri Lankan government rules surrounding sapphire trading states that Ceylon sapphire cannot be exported out of the country uncut rough form unless the sapphire falls into the Gewda category. Therefore 99% of the Ceylon sapphires in the world market are cut and polished in Sri Lanka. Some Ceylon sapphire buyers recut the gemstones in a foreign lapidary workshop to improve faceting designs and light return performances. But many do not opt to do a recut as it will diminish the carat weight by 25% or more.
Ceylon sapphires in the world market are usually found in basic faceting designs. As the lapidary industry in the country is more focused on the yield of the final products and rate of output, many cut and polished Ceylon sapphires exhibit unmet facets, deeper than necessary Pavillion and sometimes uneven girdle lines. This study considers sapphires with these inherent properties as only a few lapidary workshops in the country produce precision-cut Ceylon sapphires.
The price per carat is proportionate to the total carat weight of a particular stone, and the value goes exponentially high for high carat weight stones. For example, the value of a 10-carat sapphire will far exceed the average per carat cost multiplied by 10. Therefore this market study evaluates the Ceylon sapphire price per carat based on the stones between 1-3 carats as a benchmark criterion. We can safely assume most of the sapphire jewellery intended for most gemstone lovers will be within this carat range. Bigger stones are privy to only a few and fall into the investment category, which is beyond the scope of this study.
The following pricing guide is prepared, taking all the above-discussed factors and assumptions into consideration. The data below indicates the rounded-up average Ceylon sapphire price per carat based on 25 gemstone traders worldwide.
|Sapphire color variety||Price per carat in USD|
|Other mid tone blues||700|
|Mid tone yellows||500|
|Very pale yellow||400|
|Intense pink (Ceylon Ruby)||1,100|
|Mid tone pink||700|
|Blueish purple or pink||500|
Padparadscha Sapphire Price Per Carat
Padparadscha sapphires are a highly sought after sunset color of pinkish-orange. There could be different shades to it, but the true Padparadscha is quite rare and high priced. Probably the highest priced sapphire there is. A Ceylon Padparadscha sapphire, also known as ‘pad sapphire’, is priced around 1,500 US dollars per carat for a less than 3 carat stone with no eye-visible inclusions and near-perfect color
Royal Blue Sapphire Price Per Carat
Usually the most desired blue sapphire shade. The dark blue tones typically do not reflect light as much as lighter tones. But this is one of the signature colors of Ceylon sapphire. The engagement ring of Princess Diana is a well known royal blue Ceylon sapphire. A royal blue Ceylon sapphire price ranges around 1,350 US dollars per carat for an eye clean, well-cut stone.
Cornflower Blue Sapphire Price Per Carat
Cornflower blue is a well-recognized sapphire by jewelers and gemstones lovers alike. Incredibly, many cornflower blue sapphires in the market are found in Sri Lanka but are not the most priced. Kashmire cornflower blue sapphires are the most expensive but not readily available. An eye clean Ceylon cornflower blue sapphire is priced little over 1000 US dollars per carat.
Ceylon Blue Sapphire Price per Carat (Other Mid Blue Tones)
There are quite a few blue tones of Ceylon sapphire like velvet blue, peacock blue, pastel blue and indigo blue. The price of the mid-blue tone Ceylon sapphires are around 700 US dollars per carat. The paler it gets, the more affordable it would be. But it is not necessarily valid for precision cut sapphires. Modern precision cuts can demonstrate its Pavillion and crown facet patterns much better when the stone becomes pale and more transparent. These are priced significantly higher than traditional Ceylon sapphire cuts.
Ceylon Yellow Sapphire Price Per Carat
Sri Lankan is the biggest source of yellow sapphire in the world. A larger percentage of sapphires found in the country are, in fact, yellow sapphires. The colors could vary from an intense golden color to pale yellows and in between. Ceylon yellow sapphire price ranges from 650 to 400 US dollars per carat, depending on the color saturation.
Pink Sapphire Price Per Carat
The next most frequent sapphire found in Sri Lanka after yellow sapphire is the pink shades. Pink sapphires are also found in Burma and Vietnam. A Ceylon pink sapphire is priced around 700 US dollars per carat.
Ceylon White Sapphire Price Per Carat
Though light yellow and blue sapphires are frequent, the pure white or completely colorless sapphires are somewhat hard to come by in Sri Lanka but can not be considered rare. A well-cut, eye clean Ceylon white sapphire may be priced around 400 US dollars in international gem markets.
Tips to Find Affordable Ceylon Sapphires
You don’t necessarily need to be a seasoned gem trader to try and locate Ceylon sapphires at an affordable cost. The world is opening up at a pace beyond imagination driven by the advent of direct-to-consumer sales channels through e-commerce. Even if you are halfway across the world from Ceylon, you still can get to a decent price point if you know where and what to look for.
If you are a jeweler or a gemstone lover, below some quick and proven tips to find Ceylon sapphires at affordable rates
Go to the Source
The key tactic is to reach the source, thereby eliminating many unwanted intermediaries who do not add value but only increase the price tag. You don’t want more than a maximum of 3 intermediaries between the sapphire mine and yourself. The miner, the lapidarist and if at all, one gemstone dealer. This is easier said than done, specially if you have not visited Sri Lanka or are not connected to a trusted local. But with enough research, you can get as close as possible to the source. Etsy and Instagram are some of the obvious starting points.
Source Through a Lapidarist
As stated above, the sapphires exported out of Sri Lanka are always cut and polished. Suppose you can find a reliable lapidarist in Sri Lanka; you can not only customize the gemstone to your preferred color and cut, but also possibly aim for more visibility into the price levels of the value chain from rough to cut and polished Ceylon sapphire.
Compromise a Little on Clarity
You will often be surprised that you will get as much as 30% reduction from the standard prices when slight inclusions are present. SI (slightly included) sapphires are not only cheap but also add some character to the gemstone. Inclusions are also silent witnesses to assure that the gem is natural and possibly not treated.
Especially if you are a Jeweler you may have some leverage to bargain a little bit more. Once you find a reliable source, you can always talk in the lines of beneficial mutual arrangements. You can promote the seller at origin in turn for a better price. You will be surprised that many genuine gemstone traders at source want to get the word around and build their customer base.
Always be Protected
When you are sourcing Ceylon sapphires, make sure the gemstone is lab tested at the origin. Although some gemstone testing laboratories may not be reputed as much as GIA’s, a certificate will still be worth assessing the authenticity before dispatch. Always look for the refund and return policy of the seller and opt to go with full insurance, especially when the gemstones are high valued and remember to stick with a reputed courier provider with a tracking facility.
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