Sapphires are one of our favourite gemstones at Stag & Finch! With a huge range of colours to choose from, and durability that will last a lifetime, they make perfect gems for daily wear which is why it's most often selected for engagement rings as an alternative to diamonds.
Sapphires have a long history from across the world spanning many cultures, symbolisms, and ideas. In this post, we wanted to showcase a variety of important sapphire producing countries. While we could discuss a multitude of origins, we’ve narrowed down our list to the locations most important to Stag & Finch.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
One of the first sapphires we’ll look at is the beautiful Montana Sapphire, and our personal favourite at Stag & Finch!
These sapphires have settled in alluvial deposits along riverbeds, nestled among the Rocky Mountains. They were first discovered in the 19th century by early gold prospectors when small stones kept plugging their sluicing equipment, which turned out to be sapphires - and the first sapphires found in the United States that were of gem-quality. Their raw uncut form is soft and tabular, and because of this, most Montana sapphires are cut in round shapes to retain their weight and keep the maximum size.
Sapphires from Montana can come in a range of colours including yellow, orange, colour-shift, and even purple, but the most common is a lovely blue-green caused by the trace elements titanium and iron that were available during growth. Their saturation can range from pastel to vivid and more often than not, they will have been given an industry standard heat-treatment to improve their colour and clarity. This treatment is very stable and won’t fade.
Due to modern regulations and standards established on mining practices within the United States, Montana sapphires are an ethically conscious choice.
Madagascar has some truly remarkable sapphires with their most common colours being blue, green, yellow and often bi- or parti-colour! But it doesn’t stop there, Madagascar also produces stunning shades of purple, pink, orange, and yellow. Their colour is often vibrant and bold and the raw gem is typically larger in size with varying shapes, allowing for more flexibility when choosing a design to cut it in.
Madagascar sapphires aren’t typically heat-treated, but this isn’t to say they never are. Sometimes this treatment is used to improve the gem’s colour and clarity. Colour zones and bands are common in this island’s precious gem.
Sapphire mining sprung up in the 19th century in Australia and today this country produces a stunning range of rich colours, most notably in blue, green, and yellow. Parti-coloured sapphires are also quite common with beautifully defined zones. Due to their size and relative clarity, as well as ethically conscious mining practices, these sapphires are quite sought after.
Most of Stag & Finch’s Australian sapphires come from Queensland and New South Wales, the hotspots for sapphires, containing the majority of Australian mines.
THAILAND & MYANMAR
Thailand, known as the land of smiles, is also the gem capital of the world with most of the world's gemstones trading hands in Chanthaburi. Gem dealers from around the world travel to this province to buy and sell rough. In 2019, the owners of Stag & Finch got the opportunity to travel to Chanthaburi and see it all in action.
Thailand also has its fair share of mines which pull beautiful blues and yellows from the earth and many phenomenal star sapphires. This effect is caused by small rutile needles within the sapphire that are arranged in just a precise way as to cause ‘Asterism.’
Thailand’s neighbour, Myanmar, is home to the famous Burmese rubies. This stunning, rich red is known around the world as one of the most sought after varieties of corundum. Exportation of these rubies is highly regulated and controlled making them even more of a rarity.
Famous for their rich velvety blue, Sri Lankan sapphires have a well deserved reputation on the world stage. This island nation produces some of the top cornflower blue as well as vivid pinks and yellows and the famous padparadscha. These rare sapphires are truly special with a distinct orange-pink hue. While many countries boast of comparable sapphires, the Sri Lankan blue and padparadscha are truly in a league of their own. These have been some of the most sought after sapphires for generations.
Tanzania is home to the Umba Valley which produces some of the most beautiful ranges of coloured sapphires. From vivid pinks and purples, to yellows and blues, this location also produces many colour-change and colour-shifting sapphires. Most of the sapphires coming from this region don’t require any heat treatments as their inclusions are one of their best features. A stunning example of this is what is known as ‘sugar,’ which appears as grains of sugar within the sapphire, softening its glow and creating a distinctive appearing sapphire unlike anything else.
And Just for Fun:
We included a little guide to different sapphires and what causes their colours!
Trace element colour guide:
Blue: Iron and Titanium
Orange: Chromium and Iron
White: Low amount or absence of trace elements