We all adore the sparkling and super bright sapphires with a fine cut by the hand of an experienced gem cutter. But have you ever wondered how exactly the sapphire rough look like when they were found?
The process involved from finding a rough gemstone until it reaches the setting of your engagement ring is quite fascinating. First let’s have a look where sapphires are found.
Where Are Sapphires Mined?
The ideal conditions of pressure and temperature must present for these amazing crystals to naturally occur. Sapphires are most commonly found in Ceylon present day Sri Lanka, Burma and Kashmir.
Some of these countries have a significant history of sapphire mining even dating back to thousands of years in the case of Ceylon.
Later the countries like Brazil, Thailand, Kenya, Madagascar, Australia and even USA came in to the sapphire mining industry.
Sapphires are mined and unearthed following a tedious and labor intensive process. Sapphire mines are not as deep as diamond mines. But they can also go into the earth’s crust to a certain level.
Mines found in Sri Lanka are not so deep and can range between 3-18 meters. First, the miners dig holes and reach this level that can be identified by the color and texture of the soil that shows dynamics of black, grey and brown.
Then the batches of soil are brought up to the surface and cleaned with a natural or man-made stream of water to get rid of the dirt to surface the sapphire rough.
Blue Sapphire Rough Stones
Blue sapphire is the highest rated gemstone. Comes in different shades and intensities of blue color. It could be an absolute marvel when faceted properly.
Blue sapphire rough stones stand out from the rest of the sapphires despite being unprocessed. Blue sapphire roughs are found in different carat weighs though the frequent finds are between 5-10 carats. Bigger sizes are rare and once found are sold at exceptionally high rates.
Pink Sapphire Rough
Pink sapphires are also found frequently. As not as popular as blues, the pink stones can also make fine jewelries.
Yellow Sapphire Rough
Part of corundum family sharing the same properties of the blue sapphires changed by only the color.
White Sapphire Rough
Mostly used for engagement rings as an alternative for diamonds. Much less brilliance and almost no fire compared to a diamond. But white sapphires look fabulous even in the rough.
Star Sapphire Rough
The stone showcase milky and shiny appearance even unpolished. Very slight asterism can be seen. These are not cut into cabochon shape to showcase the asterism.
The most unique and rarest color of sapphire. The color can change from pink to gold. The most accurate padparadscha displays uniquely balance between orange and pink shades mostly like the horizon sky at the sunset.
How Can You Tell If a Rough Sapphire is Real
Well, this is equally a baffling question as how to identify a real cut sapphire. The rough identification is mainly through its surface luster and based on the purity of the rough you can also try to use a source of light.
Rough identification by naked eye requires you to be trained and having worked with rough for a little time. Separation between sapphire and other precious stones like spinel and garnet is comparatively easy if you have hands on experience with gemstones.
However if you reach the origin, and if the source is credible, it is less likely that the rough is a fake. But buying a rough will always have its risks as you can clearly see the stone and it’s level of quality once it is cut and polished.
How Much are Rough Sapphires Worth?
The cleanliness, absence of fractures and cavities examined by the naked eye and through magnification loop will determine the quality of the rough.
Visible presence of foreign material is a sign of a bad rough. Sometimes this foreign material with a different color can go deep into the stone making it less valuable.
Rough sapphires with mostly milky outlook are usually not good sapphires due to the higher presence of rutile silk making less or no transparent.
However now some of these less valuable stones are heat treated to dilute the silk and make transparent and valuable sapphires.
The other most important factor is the final cut or faceted carat weight expected out of a rough sapphire. The rule of thumb is the resulting faceted sapphire will result in 30-40% of the carat weight of the rough sapphire.
The resulting cut sapphire carat weight will largely depend on the shape of the rough itself. If the rough is deep with proper width and length, you can save a lot of carat weight. Odd shaped rough will result in more wastage of the sapphire.
A gem cutter will determine the most fitting cut based on the shape of the rough itself by making sure he wastes minimum amount of stone during the process of faceting.
Therefore the value of a rough is usually range between one third to even down to one tenth depending on all above factors.
Rough Sapphire Engagement Rings
Modern times call for modern and radical art. Now you can see lots of rough cut sapphire engagement rings as opposed to fine cut and faceted sapphire rings. Though these does not showcase the brilliance, having it on a setting on it’s natural form is also quite magnificent.
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