This is a frequently asked question that I’m sure could receive simple answers, but speaking honestly, there isn’t an easy way to answer it. I will say, yes. And I will also say no. Corundum is found all over the world, though only a handful of sources yield large enough amounts of gem quality corundum to satisfy consumer demand. Miners and gemologists are constantly looking for new sources of gem quality sapphire and ruby, and as fashion trends change so does the demand for sapphires from the older sources and the new sources. While two hundred years ago the preferred source of a sapphire may have been Burma or Sri Lanka; today sapphire sources like Montana and Madagascar are producing incredible gemstones that rival those gems from the more famous sapphire origins. Should you not read on, know this possible simple answer: Sapphire origin is as important as you want or need it to be.
First let me begin by telling you why sapphire origin is not important. As a gemologist and lover of all gems, I believe in the age old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We all have our favorite colors like blue, green, yellow, pink, etc. And within each color is a range of different tones. Sapphires are first and foremost about color, and given that they can be found in virtually every color under the sun, and from light to dark; to be certain, as far as colored gemstone engagement rings go, there is no better option for color than a sapphire. So, one reason why sapphire origin is not important is because the color of the sapphire is the most important part. While certain hues, tones, and saturations of sapphire have achieved strong demand; the most important thing is how the wearer of the sapphire feels about the color. Maybe you don’t want the same color sapphire as the Duchess of Cambridge. Maybe brown is your favorite color, and if so we have a beautiful brown sapphire just for you! A sapphire is beautiful no matter where it comes from.
Now let me tell you why sapphire origin is important. If you’re looking for the crème de la crème of sapphires, the sapphires that make news at auction houses with record prices, or just a sapphire that you can brag about; the factor of sapphire origin can do a lot in those arenas. Still, the gem will have to be exceptional in all other regards as well to be considered, shall we say, Top Gem. You can have a 5 carat vivid untreated blue sapphire with excellent clarity, cut, and proportions, and even without a known origin it will still be a rare and beautiful gemstone. Add a known and/or certified origin of Burma, and up goes the prestige of that sapphire. Add Kashmir as an origin, and not only does the level of prestige go up, but so does the rarity. In the case of Kashmir sapphires, since the source is virtually exhausted, they are extremely rare! So rare in fact, that we’ve only had one or two of them, and many have never even seen one. At auction, they are without a doubt the crowd favorite!
In the world of gemology, origin is important; however it can be a hotly debated subject at the same time given that gemology is a rather new science relatively speaking. In gemological laboratories, the origin of gemstones is determined by the chemical makeup of the gem, and the types of inclusions or clarity characteristics within the crystal. Some gemstones are easier to determine the source of than others, and some simply cannot be determined. The Gemological Institute of America, which has issued many of the reports for our sapphires and rubies, employs field gemologists to collect samples of gems directly from their sources. By doing this, they are creating a database of information for determining origins so that one day we will know for certain where our favorite gemstones came from.
In the world of sapphires, every origin tells a story and some origins have received more fame than others. The world has known of Sri Lankan sapphires for thousands of years, and their cornflower Ceylon blue hue is highly regarded. The Burmese sapphire is known for its vivid royal blue. The Kashmir sapphire is known for its velvety blue. Australian sapphires are known to be a dark, almost inky blue. And while there are sources that are known and are even famous for sapphires, there are also new sources that were recently discovered, and quite possibly the finest source of sapphires is yet to be discovered.
The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not the origin of your sapphire is important to you. There is both romance and mystery in knowing your sapphire’s story or not knowing it. The center stone of your sapphire engagement ring has traveled millions of years, and thousands of miles to get to you. It was in the earth and then it wasn’t. It was washed and held up into the light of the sun for the first time in its existence. The crystal was admired for its beauty, determined a sapphire, and then was cut and polished so that one day it could grace your hand in a sapphire engagement ring. So, whether you know the sapphire’s origin or not, at least you know that all of the above is true, and that your sapphire is unquestionably beautiful.