If you are shopping for jewelry that features sapphires, you might not realize that there are various processes involved in preparing the precious stones for their starring role.
It is important to understand the basics of the treatments that are available, as well as the differences that will be apparent when compared with naturally mined sapphires that have also been left untouched after extraction.
To that end, here is a quick explanation of the main distinctions between treated and untreated gems of this kind, so that you can make an informed decision.
Color is key
Sapphire blue is an iconic color in its own right, but the stones which are pulled from the ground may not always be as intensely hued as some customers might expect.
This is why heat-treated stones are desirable, and in the battle heated vs unheated sapphires, the vividness of the color will be the main difference.
It is worth noting that within the industry, heat treatment is not just entirely legal, but also a practice which has been honed over the years to ensure that the temperatures used are pitched perfectly to deliver the best possible results.
Indeed this is why the lion’s share of natural sapphires sold worldwide will have undergone this kind of treatment.
That is not to say that unheated examples are inferior, but rather than customer expectations and technology have gone hand in hand to create more demand for their heated counterparts.
Other treatments may be used
The other thing that jewelry customers need to keep in mind is that heating is not the only treatment option which can be applied to natural sapphires to alter their coloration.
Chiefly, the use of chemicals to augment the color needs to be noted, as does the inclusion of any other adaptation which alters the stone from its original state, even if it is a step taken to make it look better.
In terms of value, natural sapphires which are untreated are the most expensive, since such a small proportion of those stones which are mined end up being of a high enough quality to warrant sale without adulteration.
Heat treated stones come next, and finally those that have been subjected to a different type of treatment shuffle in last.
Synthetic sapphire awareness
The final thing worth noting when talking about treated and untreated sapphires is that in addition to natural stones, you will also find synthetic examples for sale which have been lab-grown and are thus far more affordable as a result.
The affordability translates to their long term value as well, so while they may look the part, synthetic sapphires are not considered to be in the same league as their natural counterparts, and can also be treated through various processes to create aesthetic tweaks.
Ultimately you should make sure to get all of the information about the origins of any sapphire before you buy, and be sure to pass this information on if you decide to sell, to avoid any issues and stick to your budget.