How to buy sapphires online?
I am guessing that you want to buy sapphires or sapphire jewelry online but you want to know more about how to go about in selecting the best gemstone or the jewelry and from whom to buy. You have come to the right place. In this article, I am going to answer most of the questions (hopefully, all the questions) you have about how to buy sapphires online.
I will be covering following topics in the article
- What are the different types of sapphires available?
- How to determine the quality and the price of a sapphire?
- Natural, treated and synthetic sapphires
- What are the best online stores to buy sapphires?
- Who are the sellers you should avoid?
- An Important Tip For New Buyers
What are the different types of sapphires available?
Sapphires comes in a wide range of colors and some colors have got its own name. The most desired sapphire is however is the blue sapphire. Other varieties are pink, yellow, green, purple, white and black. (The color red is not called as a sapphire, it has its own trade name- Ruby)
Another rare type of sapphire is the Padparadscha sapphire which has a unique color similar to salmon pink. Star sapphires are also famous among gemstone lovers and it is also available in all sapphire colors. But high quality star sapphires are even rarer than normal sapphires.
Even though the most expensive sapphire variety is the blue sapphire, the price of a sapphire varies significantly based on the factors which I am going to discuss next. Therefore, not all blue sapphires are expensive than other sapphire varieties and not all other sapphire varieties have to be cheaper than blue sapphires.
How to determine the quality and the price of sapphire?
When you are wondering how to buy sapphires online, the most important thing to learn is how to value a gemstone. This will immensely help you to buy a good quality gemstone for a reasonable price without getting ripped off.
Just like in the case of emerald, sapphires should also be analyzed using the 4 c’s system to determine the quality and price. The 4 c’s stands for, color, clarity, cut and the carat weight. I will go through these one by one.
Color of a Sapphire
For sapphires, color is the most important out of these 4 c’s, just like in the case of emerald. But since sapphires comes in a whole range of colors, the correct analysis will sometimes be even more important.
The color of a gemstone is analyzed under it hue, tone and saturation.
Hue describes the actual color of a gemstone.
It can be one of the primary colors such as red, blue or yellow or a secondary color such as purple, orange or green. (Secondary colors are the mixes of primary colors). The color can also be mixed with white, gray and black. Effect of Grey is discussed under “saturation”, and effect of black is discussed under “tone”. When there is white in the stone, the word “tint” comes in to play. For example, a blue sapphire with white spots is referred to as a blue sapphire with white tint and if the stone is predominantly white with blue patches, it is referred to as a white sapphire with blue tint.
Tone refers to whether the color of the stone is light or dark. For pink sapphire, it can be light pink or dark pink, if it is blue, it can be dark blue or light blue. The presence of black in the stone tends to make it dark.
Sapphires are less desirable when the color is either too light or too dark. Such stones will therefore be less expensive.
Saturation simply refers to how strong or vivid the color is. For example, a reason for quality blue sapphires to be so popular is the vivid blue hue you find in those are unlike any other blue you will find in nature.
Two colors that affect the saturation are Grey and brown. There are no gemstones with zero Grey or brown mixed in their color but the lesser the Grey or brown, the more intense and vivid the color will be.
In essence, when the stone color is more vivid, it will be more expensive. When you are going to buy sapphire online, good quality pictures will show the intensity of the color and ff it doesn’t, feel free to ask for more pictures or even a video.
The following image gives a good summary of what I explained above.
But how can you make use of all these factors when buying a sapphire online? When you are comparing all the options you have (I will recommend few online stores later in the article) , having this knowledge of color differences helps you to get an understanding of why certain sapphires are more expensive.
Here is a video which shows different colors of blue sapphires.
But, the color is not the only factor. Let’s move on to understand the rest of the 4 c’s as well.
Clarity of a sapphire refers to the inclusions and blemishes in a gemstone. It is common to have inclusions in sapphires and you have to be extra careful when the stone does not show any inclusion at all as those can be lab created synthetic sapphires. But unlike emeralds, sapphires with zero eye visible inclusions are possible to find but could be very expensive. ( But almost all sapphires will contain inclusions which are visible for the microscope at least)
In the presence of naked eye visible inclusions, the price of the gemstone will change accordingly. A clearly visible inclusion or a blemish to the naked eye right in the middle of the sapphire will significantly drop the desirability and hence the price. A small inclusion in a side of the stone will not be that much of a concern for many as it will not be visible when the stone is put on a jewelry.
When you are buying a sapphire online, high quality images are an absolute must. These photos will show you if there are any eye visible inclusions in the stone. If the store does not have enough pictures, please go ahead and ask for more pictures and also for a video.
You will be able to find seller who accommodate these requests and do not waste time with sellers who refuse to send you more pictures or a video.
The cut greatly affects the look and feel of any gemstone. The cut also helps to get the best possible luster from a sapphire.
If the cut is too deep, it creates the “window” effect where light will escape from the other side of the store and you will be able to see through it. When you are looking at the gemstone from the pictures of the website, see whether you can see through the gemstone. If you can, then there is a window. If the cut is too shallow, the stone will appear too light.
Look for the symmetry in the cut. The gemstone should look symmetric and facets should be symmetric as well. If the facets does not have proper margins, and if similar facets are not equal in size, the cut is not good. A symmetric cut with uniform facets is what you should be looking for. The culet, which is the end point at the bottom, should also be symmetric. If the culet does not align with the axis, to the middle of the gemstone, the stone will not look very nice.
Here again, good quality pictures are important to determine the quality of the cut.
This refers to the weight of the gemstone and carat is the standard unit for measuring a gemstone weight.
Since sapphires are a very rare type of gemstone, prices increases exponentially with the weight of the stone. Even stones over 5 carats are rare and stones over 15 carats are much rarer.
That is a summary of the 4 c’s analysis for sapphires. Main determinants of the price are these fours factors while the color being the most important.
Natural, Treated and Synthetic Sapphires
The natural sapphires found from mines are very often subjected to different treatment methods to improve the color. Heating, fracture filling, beryllium treatment and surface diffusion are some of these methods. Heat treatments are the most common for sapphires out of these.
When buying sapphires online, you have to check whether the stones have undergone any such treatment. Natural sapphires without any treatment will be more expensive. Heat treated sapphires are also quite expensive but not as much as natural stones.
Surface diffusion and Beryllium treated sapphires are much cheaper and the cheapest will be surface diffused sapphires.
Lab created synthetic sapphires are also available and these are super cheap.
To put all these into context, when you are buying a sapphire online, you must definitely ask for a detailed certificate which discloses the treatment type. Sometimes, you will come across crazy cheap sapphires and these will most definitely be either synthetic or surface diffused sapphires. As I already mentioned, fracture filled and surface diffused stones are also much cheaper compared to heated and natural stones.
What are the best online stores to buy sapphires?
Learning how to buy sapphires online is mostly about validating the quality and price of the options available. But, it is also important to know some trustworthy places to buy gemstones from.
Below are my three recommended places for you to buy sapphires online. (There are so many other sellers from whom you can buy sapphires online. If you already have a trusted seller or you found one online, you should absolutely go ahead and check what they can offer.)
This is a good option if you have a limited budget but still want to buy quality sapphires. Etsy is a trusted market place of sellers from all around the world. This is a great place to buy sapphires for really good prices as these sellers do not have a lot of cost overheads such as staff salaries, shop rents, marketing, expenses etc.
A detailed description of the process to follow when buying from etsy can be found here.
To summarize, look for a seller with good reviews. Definitely ask for a valid certificate from the seller to validate the authenticity of the gemstone. Also, do a comparison of prices between different sellers. (Reminder : You should ask for more pictures if the listed pictures are not enough and also for a video.)
2. James Allen
This is a good option if you want to buy from a highly recognized and trusted seller and with a purchase guarantee. A detailed review of James Allen can be found here.
In a nutshell, they offer great pictures, 3600 view, 30 day money back guarantee and awesome customer support. But the prices are definitely more expensive that what you can find from Etsy.
They only offer Blue, Pink, Yellow and Green Sapphires.
3. Leibish & Co.
Leibish is a more exclusive shop and they mostly sell only Blue Sapphires. Leibish also offers money back guarantee, free returns and great customer service. More details of Leibish can be found here.
Who are the seller you should avoid?
JamesAllen and Leibish are well-established and trustworthy sellers and it is highly unlikely that they will sell you a law quality sapphire. But if you are considering a seller on etsy on any other online store, following tips will be useful.
- Ask for high quality images
- Ask for a video
- Check the reviews
- Ask for a valid certificate
(Certificate includes the details of the certifying institute. Check whether that institute is a trustworthy place. If you cannot find information on that specific laboratory or institute, you cannot trust that certificate. There are so many fake labs all around the world who will create
Certificates with fake information)
If the seller is not keen on providing this information or have bad reviews, those are the sellers you should absolutely avoid.
An Important Tip for New Buyers
If you are new to buying sapphires online, it is always good to just browse through the internet and check for different options available. A good starting point will be Etsy. Check different prices and qualities available which will give you a decent idea of the approximate pricing. However, the prices will be significantly higher in stores such as JamesAllen and Leibish as those are premium online stores.
You will also come across crazy cheap sapphires but these will always be synthetic or treated with one of the inexpensive methods I mentioned above.
You can most certainly ignore these really cheap options. (e.g. Let’s say a good quality royal blue sapphire around 1 carat cost you USD 2000. The synthetic ones will be about USD 20)
Learning how to buy sapphires online might look like a daunting task but it is not that difficult when you follow the right process.
Pay attention to all points mentioned above and do not over think. Don’t feel stressful as there will be good sapphires available even if you miss one option. Some sellers might try to convince you to believe that you have found one in a lifetime opportunity to buy a great sapphire but that will never be the case unless it is a gemstone worth of few millions of dollars.
If you do not find the right sapphire for your requirement, wait for few days and check again. Don’t be in a hurry to make the purchase as that can lead you to make wrong decisions.
I hope I managed to give you good insights into finding the best way to buy sapphires online. If you think I did, it would be great if you can leave a comment and also let me know if you have any questions.