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Sapphire and the Great Pretenders

By  Judith Anderson  GG, CGA

A striking sapphire and platinum ring In 1929,  workers clearing brush in the Mogok region of Burma uncovered a spectacular sapphire weighing  958 carats.  The gem was so large and of such a fine rich color that,  if cut into a single jewel,  it would have exceeded the means of any potential buyer.  Therefore,  this  "Jungle Gem"  was cut into nine smaller sapphires,  the largest of which was over 66 carats.

Finding a spectacular sapphire lying on the jungle floor was extremely good luck.  In contrast,  today's jewelry consumer faces a retail jungle littered with synthetic,  color enhanced and overpriced or misgraded sapphires  -  finding a gemstone of true quality and value at a fair price takes more than just good luck.  To help navigate this jungle,  the consumer should consider hiring a independent consulting gemologist as a guide.

Sapphire and trilliant diamond platinum hand engraved ring.

In addition to seeking expert help,  it is worthwhile to learn about other gemstones which offer exceptional shades of blue.  Sapphire's status as the preeminent blue gemstone is challenged by fascinating jewels such as Paraiba tourmaline,  tanzanite and iolite.

Paraiba tourmaline can occur as a rich sapphire-like blue while other examples of this enchanting gemstone exhibit electric teals and neon shades of turquoise.  This gemstone is as beautiful,  as it is rare:  it is found in only one location,  the Paraiba mining district of Brazil.

Tanzanite,  a heat-treated zoisite from Tanzania,  is a velvety violetish-blue with subtle flashes of red.  Since its introduction by Tiffanys in 1970 this tantalizing gemstone has achieved tremendous popularity among custom jewelry designers and consumers throughout the world.

lolite ranges in color from a soft periwinkle to a deep violetish-blue.  With colors less intense than sapphire and tanzanite this alluring gemstone has earned the poetic nick-name "water sapphire".

2.97 ct pear-shaped tanzanite with exceptional bluish-violet color.

In addition to great colors,  these stunning blue gemstones offer the consumer a range of costs.  Because of their rarity fine Paraiba tourmalines often sell at cost close to sapphires of comparable quality.  In contrast,  fine tanzanites and iolites are significantly less expensive than sapphires.

Bijoux Extraordinaire is a practice of independent gemologists providing jewelry appraisals,  custom jewelry design and gemstone acquisition services to jewelry and gemstone enthusiasts.  If you are considering the purchase of a sapphire or other fine gemstone,  please contact us to learn more about how we can help you.  Our gemologists will provide you with the expertise and knowledge you need to acquire a beautiful gemstone of lasting quality at a fair price.

Sapphire and diamond wedding or anniversary band.

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