Celebrating Sapphire – The September Birthstone


It is September; and we are celebrating Sapphire! According to legend, Sapphire protects loved ones from envy and harm. Clergy would wear Sapphire to symbolize heaven, while the congregation felt the stone attracted blessings from heaven. Sapphire occurs in all the colors of the rainbow. We will however focus on Yellow Sapphire this month.

Yellow Sapphire is mined by local nomadic tribesmen in Garba Tula, North Eastern Kenya. It is a very dry, wild part of the country with some spectacular scenery as seen in the photo of the area below.

The mines in the area are popularly known for having a dark blue inky material. They produce pockets of intense yellow sapphires occasionally. The yellow stones also have a blue color zoning and usually produce very unique bi-color gemstones. Sapphires in this area are some of the finest natural canary yellow and yellow-blue bi-color found in the world.

Kenyan Yellow Sapphire stands out because they are untreated and entirely natural. They are naturally clean stones with a wonderful sharp yellow. Being untreated commands a premium in the Sapphire market.

The amazing thing about Kenyan Yellow Sapphire is that it is not treated. It is only cut!

How to Identify Yellow Sapphire

Before purchasing a Yellow Sapphire, it is important to ensure that the stone is natural and relatively flawless. Below are some of tips one can use to identify fake Yellow Sapphire.

(i) Most fake Yellow Sapphires are usually made from glass. To ensure the Yellow Sapphire is legit, compare it to yellow glass. At a glance, they look very similar, but in comparison with one another, one notices that yellow glass happens to be too big and saturated to be genuine.

(ii) High quality Yellow Sapphires seldom have inclusions that are visible without high magnification, whereas fake sapphires usually contain small bubbles inside.

(iii) Sapphire ranks at 9.0 on the Moh’s hardness scale. Glass, however, ranks between 5.5 and 6.0. This automatically means, glass is much more easily scratchable as compared to Yellow Sapphire, or any Sapphire for that matter. A glass imitation of Yellow Sapphire is also more likely to have scratches on the surface.

(iv) Glass is cut much more easily as compared to Sapphire since it is not as hard. Therefore, yellow glass stones are usually cut very simply and have smooth rounded edges. Yellow Sapphires’ cuts are complex, sharp and crisp.

How to Identify Synthetics

(i) Natural Yellow Sapphires can be cut into almost any style. However, if a stone is larger than a carat, it will most likely be cut into a cushion or oval mixed cut. Jewelers usually cut synthetic sapphires into round or emerald shapes.

(ii) Synthetic stones usually have an “X” cut, also referred to as a “Scissors Cut”, on the facets of a stone.

(iii) Once in a while, facets of a synthetic stone will not come out as crisp and sharp as those of a natural Yellow Sapphire would. This makes it look very similar to grooves seen on a vinyl record, though only visible under 10x loupe magnification.

(iv) A good synthetic stone may have flaws that are visible under 10x-30x magnification. A lower magnification usually shows the curved banding in synthetic sapphires. This gets even more accurate if the person doing the examining places a piece of translucent glass between the light source and the stone. 30x magnification and above shows gas bubbles and masses of un-melted powder.

How to Identify other Tricks

(i) Yellow Sapphire will occasionally have inclusions in the stone which may develop into small holes when a gem cutter slices into one of them. However, untrustworthy jewelers may fill the hole with glass or borax weight with the aim off adding weight, or making the stone appear to have higher quality. To ensure the stone is of good quality, examine it by shining a light on it. If it has patches of unevenness, then chances are that it may have fillings.

(ii) Genuine Yellow Sapphire is pure yellow. Other imitations that are less precious usually have different hues. For instance, Golden Topaz contains strong traces of the color orange, whereas Citrine has a slight tint of green. Yellow Tourmaline on the other hand has brighter, lemon-like tone.

(iii) If doubtful, it is always advisable to buy loose stones or those that have settings that allow you to look at the bottom. Closed settings such as bezel mounting are often used to hide flaws. Claw, tension and channel settings are okay.

READ MORE in our article Yellow Sapphires Mined in Kenya



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