Sell Sapphires at Best Market Value

Last updated: May 23, 2019
Sell Sapphires
The original “true blue,” sapphire is one of the world’s most valuable gemstones. It’s one of the world’s most popular gems too since its rich velvety blue color delights the eye and soothes the spirit. But what if you have sapphire jewelry that you’ve inherited or been given that doesn’t suit your style? You need to make sure that you do everything you can to sell sapphire jewelry at the best price. Here at Worthy, we help people sell their unwanted diamond jewelry for the best possible price. What we’ve learned about selling diamonds can help you when you are selling sapphires as well. Here are a few FAQs with the answers to all your questions about selling sapphires.

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What Makes a Sapphire Valuable?

The most important quality factor for sapphire is color: the best sapphires have a rich, saturated vivid blue. A common myth is that sapphires should have a dark navy blue color: these dark sapphires actually sell for much less than sapphires with a medium blue color. The second most important value factor is clarity, with sapphires that are transparent with no obvious inclusions being the most valuable. Sapphires with a hazy transparency from microscopic inclusions can still sell for a high price because it helps to make the color glow with intensity.  Buyers also prefer sapphires that have been well cut to show brilliance and an even color across the gem.

How Are Sapphires Graded?

There is no generally accepted grading system for sapphire: although some people use quality grades like AAA to describe sapphires, these systems don’t refer to any accepted standards that are the same across vendors. Similarly, fanciful descriptions like “cornflower blue” don’t have formal criteria. Clarity for sapphire is judged with the eye, not a loupe as with diamonds. Other factors that affect the price of a sapphire are carat weight, cut quality, country of origin, treatment, and whether the sapphire is naturally mined or synthetic. Before selling sapphires above a carat in size that you think may be fine quality, you may need a professional gemstone appraisal, as the subtleties of color and clarity can be difficult for a non-professional to evaluate.

How Do You Tell if a Sapphire is Real?

Identifying synthetic sapphires is a task best left to professionals. The distinguishing characteristics that identify a synthetic sapphire are visible under a microscope. Because synthetic sapphires have been produced for more than 100 years, even sapphires set in antique jewelry that has been in your family for centuries might have been lab created. There are also synthetic star sapphires.

How Much Do Sapphires Sell For?

The price that sapphires sell for depends on quality. It can range from a few dollars per carat to thousands. In 2015, a 27.68-carat cornflower-blue Kashmir sapphire set a world auction record for the price per carat for sapphire at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. The emerald-cut sapphire sold for $6.7 million, or $243,702 per carat.

What is a Fancy Sapphire?

Fancy sapphires are sapphires in any other color than blue.  Sapphires are available in pink, yellow, orange, colorless, green and a lovely and valuable orangy-pink known as padparadscha. A red sapphire would be called a ruby: the two gems are the same mineral, corundum and were named for their colors before people could identify minerals.

What Are Star Sapphires?

Star sapphires are cabochon cut sapphires that have a six-rayed star under a spotlight that will move across the dome of the gem as it moves under the light. The star effect, called asterism, is the result of tiny needles of rutile that catch the light at certain angles. Star sapphires are available in many unique colors including gray, lavender, black, pink and orange but stars that have a bright blue body color and a bright clear star are the most valuable.

What Shapes are Sapphires Available In?

The most common shapes for sapphires are cushions and ovals. Round brilliant cuts are also common in small sizes.  Today you can find sapphires in a variety of fancy shapes, including rose cuts too.

Are Sapphires Treated?

Most sapphires are heated to very high temperatures in order to dissolve rutile and improve color and clarity. You should assume a sapphire has been heated unless it has a lab report that says otherwise. If you are selling sapphires that are untreated, be sure to seek a buyer that truly understands the rarity and value of unheated gems. 

Some sapphires are treated in a more extreme way that more dramatically affects value. They are heated with chemicals that penetrate the surface, giving them a shallow rind of color. These surface diffused sapphires, both blue and fancy colors, are worth much less than heat-treated and unheated sapphires.  Some sapphires also have surface inclusions filled with lead glass to improve clarity which also decreases their value.

Does A Sapphire's Origin Affect Value?

Sapphires are found all over the world, including the US, Thailand, Australia, Myanmar, Kashmir, and Madagascar.  The mines in Kashmir and Myanmar are famous for producing very fine sapphires. As a result, sapphires that have a lab report indicating that they come from these mines command a premium. However, the country of origin is never a guarantee of quality: every mine produces mostly low-quality gemstones.

Why Do People Value Sapphires?

Sapphires have been prized by royalty for centuries. Many associated the deep blue color of sapphire with heaven and believed that it brought them divine blessings. Before “diamonds were a girl’s best friend,” sapphires were one of the primary precious gems used as a symbol of love in engagement rings. Even in modern times, royalty and the upper echelons of society choose sapphire engagement rings.  Princess Diana’s engagement ring contains a 12-carat blue oval sapphire.  After being handed down, Prince William gave the engagement ring to the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. This oval sapphire ring is one of the most widely copied engagement rings in modern times.

What Kinds of Jewelry are Set With Sapphires?

While sapphires can be found in nearly every type of jewelry, they are most commonly found in rings, earrings, and necklaces. Sapphires are often seen paired with diamonds in jewelry, as they compliment each other and create highly valuable pieces. Sapphires are prominently featured in vintage as well as modern jewelry and are commonly found in estate sales.

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