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Cabochon Sapphire Information

Cabochon Sapphire Information

Sapphire is one of the most important of all the colored gemstones and comes in a wide variety of colors: blue, pink, yellow, green, purple, orange, padparadscha, blue green, lemon yellow, color change, and black.   With a hardness of 9 on the Moh's scale, sapphires are extremely hard tough and durable, and are suitable for use in any kind of jewelry.   Blue, pink and yellow Sapphire and Burma Ruby are more familiar and treasured than almost any other gemstone variety. At Sosnagems you will find a large collection of fine quality cabochon sapphires.

The prices, uses and value of cabochon sapphire can differ greatly, depending on the size and quality of the  individual gemstone.  Sosnagems is your source for the highest quality colored gems from across the globe, available at Bangkok direct wholesale prices.  Your gorgeous gemstone from Sosnagems is guaranteed to impress when set into any jewelry, be it a bold mans ring, a dainty ladies ring, a pendant necklace or earrings sold as a matched set.  Our loose gemstones are used to create the finest gem stone jewelry - You will positively love setting your loose cut gems into yellow gold, white gold, silver or platinum jewelry.  Discover the thrill of creating your own unique top quality rings, earrings, pendants,  wedding sets, or that  special bracelet necklace set to be given as a gift to the love of your life.  Creating the finest jewelry starts with finding the best gemstones, and the best gemstones are found at Sosnagems.

Why Buy Loose Gemstones Instead of Pre-Set Jewelry?
There are many reasons, but in the end it boils down to value and choice.

When buying your gemstone loose instead of a pre-set stone, you can be sure you are getting the best value for your money.  Loose gemstones are less expensive, a better value, and you can really see what you are paying for.  The most important part of getting the right price and finding the best value is to first see what you're getting.  A jewelry setting will hide the inclusions inside a gem, and can deepen or brighten its color.  With a loose stone you can much more easily inspect the gem and see its quality for what it really is.  In this way you can get a better idea of its true worth and be sure you are paying a fair price.

The second advantage of buying a loose gemstone is choice.  You are free to pick the exact color, cut, shape and variety of the stone for the setting of your dreams, be it yellow gold, white gold, platinum or silver; prong set or bezel set.  You can experience the joy of creating your very own, one-of-a-kind jewelry design. Choose from a variety of jewelry settings and styles to create a completely original presentation that will perfectly suit your individual gemstone and will be as unique as you are!

             Cabochon sapphire jewelry                                                                                         




Origin Madagascar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ceylon, Burma, Burmese, Australia, India, Kenya, Tanzania, U.S.A., China
Color Blue light to dark blue, corn flower blue, royal blue, Burma blue, Ceylon blue, loose blue sapphire in all shades of blue.
Refractive Index 1.759-1.778
Chemical Composition AL2 O3
Hardness 9
Density 4
Crystal Structure Trigonal
Zodiac Sign Libra
Planet Venus
Month September
Anniversary 5th and 45th
As with all sapphire, the cabochons are extremely durable, having a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale. Sapphire has a specific gravity of 4.00, a refractive index of 1.76 - 1.78, and birefringence of 0.008.  The refractive index (RI), measured using a refractometer, is an indication of the amount light rays are bent by a mineral. Birefringence is the difference between the minimum and maximum RI. When birefringence is high, light rays reflect off different parts of the back of a stone causing an apparent doubling of the back facets when viewed through the front facet.
Most gems have a crystalline structure. Crystals have planes of symmetry and are divided into seven symmetry systems. The number of axes, their length, and their angle to each other determine the system to which a crystal belongs.  The gem cabochon sapphire is classified as having a trigonal crystalline structure because it has three planes of symmetry and four axes. Three axes are at 60 degrees to each other in the same plane. The fourth axis is perpendicular and unequal in length to the other three. The form of a sapphire's crystals depends on the variety and locality. Sapphires may have an uneven or a conchoidal fracture but no real cleavage. The amount of light reflected at the surface of a gemstone is its luster and cabochon sapphires have a glassy (vitreous) luster as opposed to the waxy, greasy, or resinous luster of other stones.


Cabochon Sapphire is valued for its attractive color.  The more saturated the color the more valued the cabochon gemstone becomes, however an inky or muddy stone becomes undesirable; a cabochon 's clarity can also affect the apparent tone.

Color is the single most important factor in determining the value of for any sapphire.  Indeed, the color of a sapphire is more important than its clarity. Sapphires are rarely clean and even very expensive stones can be slightly included. Subtle differences in color can make great variations in valuations of fine gemstones. Fine loose gemstones of good color and clarity are always rare and valuable. Highly saturated medium or medium dark tones are best, cabochon Sapphires which are too dark or too light are worth considerably less.

The name sapphire comes from the Greek word "sapphirus", meaning "blue".  However, sapphire gemstones come in many colors including pink, yellow, orange, green, black, color-change, purple, violet, light blue, and the rare orange-pink Padparadscha sapphire gems. Padparadscha comes from the Sinahalese word meaning "lotus color". Sapphires other than blue, pink, yellow, green and orange sapphire are usually called "natural fancy-color sapphire". Red hues result from traces of chromium. The greater the concentration of oxides the deeper the color.


Ovals, rounds, cushions and emeralds are the most common cuts for sapphire, due to the typical shape of sapphire rough. Other popular sapphire shapes include pears, briolettes, hearts and  marquises.  Star sapphires are cut into the cabochon shape in order to develop and properly display the star effect.  Fibers or fibrous cavities within a star sapphire reflect the light which causes a star to appear within the stone. A six-ray star sapphire has three sets of parallel fibers. Skilled cutters can sometimes create a 12-ray star sapphire but they are rare.



The traditional heating of ruby and sapphire is a widely used and is an accepted enhancement process which can improve the transparency and color of the stones. Techniques range from simply throwing gems into a fire to be cooked, to employing sophisticated electric or gas furnaces at specific pressures and atmospheric conditions. The treatment is permanent and heated stones do not require any special care.

New treatments which are used to produce blue, pink, orange and yellow sapphire stones are more controversial. This new treatment is a heat-diffusion process which is stable and may or may not completely penetrate the stone. The color is achieved through a process which includes the addition of foreign elements to achieve the desired color alteration. We at Sosnagems will always disclose this treatment.

Sosnagems fully discloses any and all treatments to our gemstones.


For decades, the basaltic lava rocks and river sands and gravels of Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ceylon, Pailin Cambodia have been major sources of excellent quality gem sapphires. Other sources of loose sapphire are Australia, Brazil, Kashmir, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Montana, USA.

Today however, there is a new and important source of gem quality sapphires on the market - Madagascar. Its blue sapphire's are similar in appearance, quality, and material to those from Sri Lanka. Generally they are indistinguishable from Ceylon sapphires and are interchangeable in value.


Sapphire Madagascar                                                                            Madagascar Sapphire Mining

In the early 1990's, a new source of gem quality sapphire stunned the international gemstone market. Madagascar, a large island nation off the south-east coast of the African continent, became the hottest news in the precious gem industry. With just a few years of development, several new mine sources began producing commercial to top gem quality sapphires the likes of which had not been seen for over a century.
Buyers from around the globe flocked to the new finds. Once small villages of a few dozen mud huts soon became wild west boomtowns with 10's of thousands of new inhabitants. Most of the newcomers were itinerant miners looking to strike it rich in the pay dirt of the Madagascar wilderness. Dirt poor farmers could become instantly wealthy by local standards with the find of just one exceptional rough sapphire crystal.
These new African deposits have been a boon to sapphire traders everywhere in the world. There is now a whole new range of beautiful blue gemstones available to gem dealers, jewelers and collectors, many of which are often compared with Ceylon sapphire. The color saturation, clarity, evenness and purity of color occasionally rival the finest of Burma and even the elusive sapphires of Kashmir.
Production from Kashmir has been virtually nothing for the past several decades, making fine sapphires from this source nearly impossible to find. Burma however, does continue to produce excellent quality sapphires to this day, but in very small quantities.
The wonderful advantage to modern day sapphire lovers is the relative availability of Madagascar gems at affordable prices. Madagascar has made the dream of owning a Kashmir look-alike possible to a wide range of gem lovers around the world.
Ilakaka and Sakaraha are situated a little south of the island Madagascar near a place called Toliara or Tulear. Since its discovery in 1998, the mine has seen active mining and trading from all over Madagascar is conducted here. Go past the desert southwards and you will reach a place called Andranondambo. Known at one time as Fort Dauphin, Tolanaro is a metasomatic sapphire mining area for blue sapphires where, in 1994 the first sapphires of gem quality were found.
Sri Lanka
 Ceylon Sapphire Gem Mining                                                                                         
Mining on the island of Sri Lanka goes back at least 2000 years. This island has its own heritage in the mining arena. The island is called Gem Island or "Ratna Dweepa" because of the large variety of gems found here. You will find everything from peridot to moonstones to garnets and topaz. Today Sri Lanka is best recognized for it's the sapphires called the Ceylon Blue, and the sapphire called Padparadscha which has a beautiful and unique orange pink pastel soft color, very similar to the Lotus flower found on this island. The traditional Ceylon mines are near Ratnapura which is located southeast of Colombo about 100kms away.
Sri Lanka is still one of the world’s largest sources of fine quality blue sapphire. It is a place where one can regularly find excellent gems over the 100 carat mark. Many of the famous large sapphires in museums around the world came from this gemstone rich tropical island. Sri Lanka is also a very well known source for fine quality star sapphires.
The classic “cornflower blue” is what Sri Lanka is best known for. The finest of the sapphires from Ceylon are a very even and intense pure blue color, with a high degree of saturation. This bright and medium toned shade of blue is highly prized around the world, and is considered to be far superior to the often overly dark and inky colors commonly found in Australia and Thailand.
The area know as Ratnapura sits right in the middle of the gem producing area of Sri Lanka. Surrounding this town one can see hundreds of small to large hand dug pits where the gemming (Sri Lankan term for gem mining) is going on. The government has put a total ban on mechanized mining, thereby assuring a tight supply, stable prices, and a source of income for many future generations of poor indigenous laborers.
Burma, which is today called Myanmar, has several important locations that produce sapphire. The most famous is the Mogok gem tract which has a rich history of production dating back several hundred years. Sapphires from Burma were not recognized for their superior quality until the 1950's, after which their value and demand has risen dramatically. 
But what exactly is it that makes blue sapphires from Burma so superior to gems from any other location? In visual terms it is what is known as color saturation. Burmese sapphires possess some of the very highest concentration of blue color possible. The only way to properly understand this is to see the very best of Burmese sapphires side by side with the best from any other source in the world.


In the U.S., the Yogo Gulch in Judith Basin Co. has produced choice, deep blue Sapphire crystals. Not far from the Yogo Gulch, near Helena, waterworn Sapphires stones are found in the Missouri River throughout its length in Lewis and Clark County. Montana is also the claim to a few other localities: Salesville, Gallatin Co., Rock Creek, Granite Co., and Cottonwood Creek, Deer Lodge Co. Other famous occurrences are at Hastings Co., Ontario; Corundum Hill, near Unionville, Chester Co., Pennsylvania; and several scattered areas in southern California and North Carolina. Large deposits of Emery were worked near Peekskill, Westchester Co., New York.
Rubies can be found in the U.S. in the Cowee Creek District, Macon Co., North Carolina. A few scattered finds were reported in Sparta and Ogdensburg, Sussex Co., New Jersey.

The production of gem-quality sapphires in the United States is not new or recent. In 1865, the first U.S. sapphires were found in the gravels of the Missouri River in Lewis and Clark County, Montana. This was followed by subsequent discoveries on Dry Cottonwood Creek in Deer Lodge County in 1889, on Rock Creek in Granite County in 1892, and in Yogo Gulch in Judith Basin County in 1895. Additionally, small amounts of sapphire are recovered from Quartz Gulch in Granite County, Pole Creek in Madison County, the Missouri River in Chouteau County, and Brown's Gulch in Silver Bow County. Furthermore, corundum crystals, from which star sapphires have been cut, are found in Beaverhead and Madison Counties. Also, in 1895, the first sapphires were produced from the Cowee Valley in Macon County, North Carolina. But until very recently, with the exception of Yogo Gulch material, the commercial gemstone industry has had limited interest in U.S. sapphires.

Montana.--Mining of Yogo Gulch sapphires began within a year of their discovery in 1895 and continued for 39 years. In 1923, the mine was damaged so badly by rain that it could not economically recover. Other attempts have been made to commercially mine the deposit, but to date, all of these attempts have ended in economic failure.

Yogo's are unique among the world's sapphires. They lack the color zoning so prevalent in other sapphires, their uniform "corn-flower blue" color is natural (not the result of heat-treating), and their clarity is uniformly high. These features rank them among the world's finest sapphires. Unfortunately, the rough is both small and flat, wafer-like in shape. The majority of the crystals or pieces of crystals recovered are too small to be cut, most are less than 1 carat and finds of over 2 carats are rare. Reportedly, the largest crystal was a 19 carat stone found in 1910 that was cut into an 8-carat stone. The size of the cut stones greatly restrict the market for Yogo's, they are beautiful, small, very expensive sapphires.

Currently, Yogo sapphires are produced from three sources: Rancor lnc., produces material from the original Yogo Gulch deposit; Vortex Mining produces from a recently discovered extension of the Yogo dike; and material is produced by individuals from privately owned lots in Sapphire Village. The first two producers market only cut stones and finished goods and the third is comprised essentially of hobbyists.

Historically, the amount of sapphires produced from the Missouri River and Rock Creek areas greatly exceeded that from Yogo Gulch. However, the value of the material produced from Yogo, reported to be in excess of $30 million, is significantly greater than that of the combined values of the other areas. This relationship is rapidly changing.

The combination of large volume commercial operations on the Missouri River, and to some extent Rock Creek, plus the advent of successful heat-treating techniques for the material has greatly enhanced the acceptance of these sapphires by the gemstone industry. This enhanced acceptance has resulted in a significant increase in the market for and value of U.S. sapphires. Unconfirmed reports have circulated that a parcel of select 3- to 10-carat material, suitable for heat-treating, was sold for as much as $40,000 per kilogram. A more realistic price for 3- to 10-carat, sorted mine-run material is in the range of $5,000 per kilogram, with many kilograms of mine-run rough selling for $1,000 per kilogram.

The sapphires from the Missouri River gravels in Lewis and Clark County are a mixture of rough and pitted crystals showing well defined faces and completely rounded and smooth-surface highly stream worn pebbles. The majority of the material is pale blue or blue-green, with deep blue stones quite rare. Stones also are found in pastel blue, green, pink, pale red, purple, yellow, and orange. Most of the stones recovered are less than 6.4 millimeters in diameter, but material 6.4 to 12.7 millimeters in diameter are not uncommon. Material greater than 12.7 millimeters in diameter is rare.

Currently there are seven operations on the Missouri River that commercially produce sapphires and/or operate a dig-for-fee area. Not all of these may be active in any one year. It is the author's understanding that one operation, currently inactive, (a self-propelled floating 16-inch suction dredge) is for sale. The mines operate from about the last week of May through the first week of September.

The Rock Creek sapphires are very similar to the sapphires from the Missouri River but differ in the general shape of the crystals. The stones are basically crude hexagonal plates about the same dimension in width and height, with a much higher percentage of the material being well rounded water worn pebbles. There appears to be more of the larger sized (greater than 12.7 millimeters) material. Additionally, it is reported that the Rock Creek material has a greater percentage of stones that can be heat-treated for color enhancement.

During the past several years, there has been only a single producer on Rock Creek. The producer operated both a commercial recovery plant and a fee recovery area. The fee recovery area sold buckets of gravel for washing and also offered, for a predetermined fixed fee, the output of one day's operation of the commercial wash plant. There is work underway which would result in a second, much larger producer, opening an operation on another deposit in the area. If things go as planned, the new operation on Rock Creek would be the largest sapphire producer in Montana.

There are a number of locations between Dillon in Beaverhead County and Ennis in Madison County that produce lavender, grayish-lavender, bluish-gray, and gray hexagonal sapphire crystals that, when cut, produce stones that contain four- or six-ray stars. At least one producer from the Dillon area is currently advertising the availability of this type of material. The remainder of the sapphire deposits in Montana appear to be operated by individual hobbyists.

The yield on treatment of Missouri River sapphires is lower than for Rock Creek. It is reported that 20% to 30% of Missouri River sapphires heat-treat from deep, well saturated blue to pale, pale blue. The corresponding treatment rate for Rock Creek material is in the range of 60%. Heat-treating also yields or improves the color of fancy colored sapphires. Bright yellows and oranges are the result of heat-treating, whereas heat-treating improves the color of some pinks by removing colors that can interfere with the desirable pink shades. Montana sapphires can be diffusion treated, but because of their high iron content they are not particularly well suited for this form of enhancement.

North Carolina.--North Carolina is well known for its hobbyist production of sapphire. Sapphire have been produced from the Cowee Valley in Macon County since 1895 when the American Prospecting and Mining Co. systematically mined and washed the gravels of Cowee Creek. Today a number of dig-for-fee operations are located in the Cowee Valley. Each year many people pay to dig or purchase buckets of gravel to wash in hopes of finding a sapphire, garnets, and other gem materials. Many of the dig-for-fee operations have enriched the gravels with gem materials from other locations.

Every year articles appear in magazines and newspapers about large and valuable sapphires found at one or more of the mines in Cowee Valley. No doubt large corundum crystals and pieces of corundum are found each year. By the same token, valuable sapphires may be found, but the number of large valuable gemstones are far less than reported, and the values are generally not as great as reported. During the period when the area was commercially mined, gem material was found that would cut fine quality 3- to 4-carat stones, but the amount of quality gem material available has greatly declined. It is doubtful that North Carolina will ever again boast of commercial sapphire production, or that the commercial gemstone industry will seriously consider the State's sapphire deposits.



The myths, legends, beliefs, superstitions, traditions and symbolism associated with sapphire have been numerous...

Legend has it that the first person to wear Sapphire was Prometheus, the rival of Zeus, who took the gemstone from Cacaus, where he also stole fire from heaven for man.

Known as the "Gem of Heaven", the ancient Persians believed Sapphires were a chip from the pedestal that supported the earth, and that its reflections gave the sky its colors.

Tradition holds that Moses was given the Ten Commandments on tablets of sapphire, making it the most sacred gemstone. Because blue sapphires represent divine favor, they were the gemstone of choice for kings and high priests. The British Crown Jewels are full of large blue sapphires, the symbol of pure and wise rulers.

The guardians of innocence, Sapphires symbolize truth, sincerity and faithfulness, and are thought to bring peace, joy and wisdom to their owners. In ancient times it was believed that when the wearer of a Sapphire faced challenging obstacles, the gem's power enabled them to find the correct solution.

In India it was believed that a Sapphire immersed in water formed an elixir that could cure the bite of scorpions and snakes. Alternatively, if it were worn as a talisman pendant, it would protect the wearer against evil spirits.

The following legend is Burmese in origin and highlights Sapphires‘ connection with faithfulness: “Eons ago Tsun-Kyan-Kse, a golden haired goddess with Sapphire blue eyes, presided lovingly over the temple of Lao-Tsun. Everyday, the temple‘s chief monk Mun-Ha, meditated before the golden goddess accompanied by his devoted companion, a green-eyed cat named Sinh. One day the temple was besieged by a group of terrible outlaws. When they threw Mun-Ha to the floor, Sinh leapt fiercely at the bandits, jumping up on his master‘s chest to protect him. The wrong doers fled screaming in fear, never to return and in gratitude for his courage, the golden goddess awarded Sinh with her Sapphire blue eyes. To this day, Sinh‘s ancestors guard over the temple.” The temple still stands and is populated by Siamese cat‘s with striking blue eyes (typically this breed has green eyes).

For hundreds of years Blue Sapphires were the popular choice for engagement and wedding rings.