Saturday, September 11, 2010

Neelam- Blue Sapphire

There are at least 3 varieties of Sapphire that run in the market...
Australian Sapphire surrounded with Diamond Polki
-Australian Sapphire
-Columbian Sapphire
-Kashmir Sapphire

Australian is the most commonly available sapphire and it is recognized by its distinct 'inky blue' color. It may be heat treated to enhance the color and remove 'patchy' discoloration.

Columbian Sapphire is much more vibrant in its color and hence a lot more expensive than Australian Sapphire. It comes in various sizes and is often heat treated to enhance color.

Kashmir Sapphire is the rarest and most expensive Sapphire that you may come across. It is a beautiful vibrant blue with a very exotic sheen in it. This cannot be treated and should be sent to the lab for authentication before purchase.

Sapphire may be treated to either enhance its natural color, to reduce unwanted inclusions or to even out the discoloration that is fairly common in natural Sapphire.
Hyderabadi Polki Ring with Australian Sapphire

Heat Treatment:
This is the most common kind of treatment on a Sapphire. Heat treatment is usually done under a very controlled environment with controlled pressure, temperature, carbon and oxygen.
Heat treatment is permanent and is so common now that almost all Sapphire are heat treated and the practice is not even declared though it is by law required to be declared.
You can see the heat treatment in Sapphire simply by placing the stone on a white sheet/ paper in white light and looking at the corners etc and inside the stone for heat traces.

Color Treatment
Under controlled temperature, pressure and air, Sapphire is color treated with cobalt and other elements. Not all Sapphire can be color treated and not all treatments are permanent. It is essential by law to declare color treatment in Sapphire.
Under close inspection one can see the color treatment in Sapphires.

This treatment is again done to enhance color. It is permanent but it needs to be declared.
Oiling or Fracture Filling
The very fine surface fractures on a Sapphire are gently wiped with oils or liquids with a thick consistency with or without heat. The liquid fills the fractures or feathers and the sapphire looks cleaner to the eye. If the liquid contains traces of blue color, the stone may even look vibrant in color and much prettier.
You can see traces of Oil filing in Sapphire fairly easily if you observe it from various angles in white light against a white background.

Ruby and Sapphire pendant in 18K Gold
The treatment on Sapphire may be permanent or temporary. Permanent treatment includes heat treatment and some irradiation treatment. Some color treatment may also be permanent but mostly fracture filling, color treatment and other forms of treatment on Sapphire are temporary and require special care.
Avoid extreme exposure to heat, bright light and sunlight. Keep your treated sapphire away from strong chemicals including perfumes, bleaching agents and cleansers.
Do not use ultrasonic cleaners for color treated or fracture filled stones.

Even though the worth of a natural stone is almost always more than that of a treated stone, in case of a sapphire which sometimes in its natural form looks either too pale, dark, included, or uneven, treatment may make the stone look more beautiful.
The price of a treated stone is much lesser than a natural untreated co-stone of the same clarity, color grade.
If you are buying your stone for its beauty, a treated stone may be a good option for you. If you are looking at collectors goods or as an investment, a natural untreated stone is a better option for you.

 It is fairly easy to create synthetic sapphire as compared to other syntheic stones. This is the reason why you will find a lot of Synthetic or man-made or artificial sapphire lingering around the market. It is essential to declare that a stone is syntheitc and it cannot be sold under the name of 'sapphire' alone.
Some synthetic sapphire look very pretty. One of the easiest way to find out if your sapphire is synthetic is to look for 'curved growth lines' in it. These are lines within the structure of the stone and sometimes fairly hard to find. But if your sapphire has curved lines then it is definitely a synthetic.

Beautiful Sapphire in Hyderabadi Polki style Ring
Imitations are stones that look like the more precious version. In case of Sapphire, the most commonly used imitations are blue glass, blue plastic,iolite, spinel, zircon, benitoite, indicolite and topaz.
Rarely Tanzanite is also used to imitate sapphire though now a tanzanite is fairly expensive and is no longer used as an imitation.
Sometimes doublets and triplets are also used as imiation of sapphire using a blue colored non-precious stone as the pavilion and a very fine slice/ chip of sapphire as the crown.

Sapphire also known as "Neelam" in hindi is a stone used to ward off the Shani dasha. It is considered to be a rather powerful stone. It is said that Neelam does not suit everyone and one must check their birth chart to make sure this stone will not cast a negative effect on the wearer.
If you are affected negatively by wearing a Sapphire, you may try wearing it along with a diamond of equal strength since a diamond is the absolute opposite of sapphire in its astrological powers.

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