How to Buy Sapphire

Two Methods:Shop for QualityShop Smart

Sapphire is the next hardest gemstone after the diamond, and it is also one of the most expensive gems. When buying sapphire, you should know how to evaluate the quality of the stone to guarantee that you get the best quality your money can buy. You should also shop smart by knowing where and how to shop to avoid getting ripped off.

Method 1
Shop for Quality

  1. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 1
    Know what tone of blue you want. Sapphires come in blues, with the lightest being Sweden princess blue and the darkest being navy or black. The most prized color is royal blue, which is in the middle of the scale. As the most prized, however, it is also the most expensive. Camelot and commodore blues, which are one shade lighter and darker, respectively, are similar in hue but slightly more affordable.
  2. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 2
    Take the hue into consideration. Blue sapphires can be pure blue, or they can be tinted by green or purple.[1] By value, pure blue ranks highest with slight purple tints following shortly after. Strong purple hues and any green hue are generally considered undesirable.
  3. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 3
    Look at the transparency of the stone. Transparency is often overlooked when buying sapphires, but the more transparent a stone is, the more brilliant it will look. Transparent stones can also be expensive, though. Fully transparent and semi-transparent stones allow the most light to pass through. Translucent sapphires allow light to pass through, but obscure objects, making it a good compromise between transparency quality and budget. Semi-opaque and opaque stones allow little to no light to pass through.[2]
  4. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 4
    Consider a fancy color sapphire. While blue is the most common color for a sapphire, these gemstones also come in several other colors. Padparadscha sapphires, which are orange-pink, are rare and considered valuable. Pink sapphires are also popular. Colorless, yellow, and green sapphires are significantly less prized.
  5. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 5
    Be aware of how origin affects the price. Where a sapphire was mined can have a huge impact on its overall cost. Sapphires mined in Kashmir, Mogok, Burma, and Ceylon are usually more prized than those mined elsewhere.[3] Typically, that is because the quality of sapphires coming from these mines is higher than those coming from most other locations. This is not always true, though, and paying for origin is a little like paying for a brand name. You can save money by purchasing quality sapphires from "lesser" mines.
  6. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 6
    Pay attention to cut. Cut does not refer to the shape of the stone. Rather, it refers to the facets on a gem's surface, which allow light and color to shine through at their best. A deep cut sapphire has better color, while shallow stones often look too big for their own weight and look lighter in tone. The cut of a sapphire is usually rated on a scale of excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor.
    • Look for ratings from an official gemstone organization, like the Gemological Institute of America. Jewelers may provide their own rating, but it is usually more generous than the official GIA rating.
  7. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 7
    Expect more inclusions with blue sapphires. A sapphire's clarity grade refers to the number of inclusions or cracks inside a stone. The fewer cracks, the more expensive a stone will be. Look for an official rating from a gemstone association like the GIA.
    • VVS (slightly included), VS (slightly included), and SI1 (slightly included) stones have few inclusions, and the inclusions they have do not affect the brilliance of the stone.
    • SI2 stones have inclusions that are obvious under magnification but have a minor effect on the stone's brilliance.
    • I1, I2, and I3 have inclusions and surface blemishes that are obvious even without magnification.
  8. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 8
    Do not be afraid of picking out a treated sapphire. Most sapphires are heat-treated. Jewelers heat sapphires in an oven under high temperatures for several hours, thus enriching the color of the stone. Untreated stones that are free of inclusions and possess superior color are rare and expensive, but because heat treatment is so commonplace, a heat-treated sapphire can still be valuable.

Method 2
Shop Smart

  1. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 9
    Set a budget. Know how much you can afford to spend before falling in love with a sapphire out of your price range. Sapphires can range in price from $50 per carat to more than $10,000 per carat, with the most expensive sapphire sold on record costing $135,000 per carat.[4] The price of a sapphire is determined mostly by quality, and a large, low-quality sapphire can be a lot cheaper than a small yet very high-quality sapphire. For sapphires, color is king. Cut has the biggest impact on a stone's brilliance (how much light comes to the eye). Transparency and clarity (the number of inclusions) are also important in determining value.
  2. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 10
    Choose a metal setting that complements the stone. Settings made of cool tones metals like silver and white gold usually complements blue sapphires best. Padparadscha sapphires can look great in yellow gold settings, though, and pink sapphires look good in both silver and gold settings.
  3. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 11
    Be aware of potential fakes. Less reputable sellers may try to sell unwitting buyers a cheaper stone that looks like sapphire instead of a sapphire. Tanzanite, blue spinel, and blue tourmaline are among the stones that some may try to pass off as being true sapphires.
  4. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 12
    Only work with reputable dealers. National chains are often a good place to start because their business practices are more closely scrutinized than those of individual stores. If you do look at the selection offered by local jewelers and individual sellers, make sure that you ask to see the official certification of any sapphire you consider buying. A legitimate jeweler will be able to present you with certification from the GIA or independent, official gemstone societies.
  5. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 13
    Save by buying loose, wholesale sapphires. Retailers drive the price of sapphires up, since they need to charge beyond the price they paid for the stones to make a profit. Retail wholesalers, however, can sell you loose stones at close to wholesale prices. Buying loose stones and having them set separately can also cost less than buying pre-set stones, and loose stones allow you more chance to customize the piece of jewelry.
  6. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 14
    Shop online and in stores. Both settings have pros and cons. Shopping for sapphires online often proves cheaper than buying sapphire jewelry in store. On the other hand, shopping for sapphires in person allows you to examine the quality of the stone and the validity of the certificate with your own eyes before making a purchase.
  7. Image titled Buy Sapphire Step 15
    Shop around at various jewelers. Each jeweler will have a slightly different stock of sapphires. As a result, you may be able to find two similar designs at different prices. As with anything else, shopping at multiple stores—both online and in person—improves your odds of finding the best quality sapphire for your budget.


  • Consider buying sapphire as a birthday or wedding anniversary gift. Sapphire is the birthstone for September and it is traditional anniversary gift for a 45th wedding anniversary.
  • Conventional wisdom states that you should go for quality over quantity. You may be able to afford a large sapphire of low quality, but it will look significantly less impressive on examination than a smaller sapphire of high quality. This is especially important if you plan to buy sapphire jewelry as a gift for someone else.
  • Focus on the quality, not the price!!!

Article Info

Categories: Rock Gem Mineral and Fossil Collecting | Buying Wisely