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Sapphire Varieties

Cabochon Sapphires

A natural blue cabochon sapphire

“Cabochon” refers to a specific way of cutting a gemstone.  A cabochon sapphire shouldn’t be thought of as just a way to cut a sapphire.  Not only is it the most ancient and historical way to cut and polish a gemstone, but this unique cut also does a lot more.  A cabochon cut on a sapphire shows the very distinctive raw beauty of the particular crystal.  A fine cabochon is for color purists.  These stones do not give off flashes of light the way a faceted stone will.  They are created for the pure enjoyment of color.

Cabochons come in many different shapes.  Oval, round, and cushion shapes are the most common.  One of the most desirable and rare is the “sugarloaf.”  Sugarloaf sapphires are in high demand and difficult to find.

Sapphire cabochons are seen in all colors.  The most prevalent are blue sapphire “cabs” as they are sometimes called.  Some yellow and pink cabs are seen on occasion, but it is unusual.  Rare and unique colors, such as purple, violet, or padparadscha are almost never seen in cabochons.

A natural untreated cabochon sugarloaf ruby

Cabochon cut sapphires are normally heat treated, as are most sapphires these days.  A fine untreated cab is usually seen in antique estate jewelry or from specialists such as ourselves.  We try to find fine, untreated cabochon sapphires, but they are part of a rare breed very seldom seen.  A clean “glassy” appearance is the most desirable look in any cabochon.  This is exceptionally rare, as most very clean material is cut into faceted gemstones.

It is important that the color within the stone be evenly distributed with no color zoning.  Heavily zoned or included cabochon sapphires will cost a lot less than clean transparent cabs.  Large cabochons are very difficult to find and highly prized.

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