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September Birthstone: Sapphire
All gem quality corundum that is not red is referred to as sapphire. Sapphire comes in a range of colors like blue, orange, yellow, violet, green, white and pink. Unless a color is stated, sapphire is assumed to be blue. Some sapphires (color change sapphires) will change between blue and violet depending on the light. Red corundum is known as Ruby.

Sapphire has a hardenss of 9, so it is generally quite durable. Despite this, sapphires are subject to chipping and fracture if handled roughly.

Currently there is much buzz over treatments that enhance the quality of the stone but are considered "dishonest" because they are done without documentation. These treatments involve the injection of a molten glass-like substance into tiny fissures and cracks within the stone.

The result is a stone that often values higher than it should, since the treatment is nearly invisible. Consequently dealers sometimes pay top dollar for "flawless" stone that may later be determined to be "enhanced," and thus less valuable. Any treatment of high quality sapphires will be documented by reputable dealers.

Reputable dealers also will not use the following misleading terms: "Brazilian sapphire" (actually blue topaz or similar color tourmaline), "Lux sapphire", "Lynx sapphire" and "Water Sapphire" (Iolite). Good quality sapphire is found in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and India. The Montana mines in the USA have produced some beautiful cornflower blue sapphires. Darker colored sapphire is mined in Thailand, Australia, and Nigeria. Other mines are in Brazil, Cambodia, Columbia, Kenya, and Malawi.

(This article written by Mike McGinnis and published originally on indiasilver.com. We encourage republication but stipulate the piece be copied in its entirety with links and attribution.)

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Updated 2/14/06
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