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Sapphires « Back to Education

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    • History
    • Understanding Sapphires
    • Color
    • Mining Location
    • Clarity

      Clarity

      Blue sapphires tend to have more inclusions than most fancy-color sapphires. Gemologists use the term "inclusion" to define characteristics found inside a stone. Inclusions are often used as an indication that the gemstone is of natural origin. A "blemish" is a characteristic that affects the stone's surface.

      Sapphire Inclusions

      • Crystals - solid inclusions of various shapes and sizes. Extremely small crystals are referred to as pinpoints or grains.
      • Silk - fine fibers of titanium dioxide (rutile) or other minerals that resemble the look of silk. Well-formed silk indicates that the sapphire underwent no heat-treatment and is of natural origin. Silk is a preferred inclusions in sapphires.
      • Needles - long, thin inclusions of either crystals, or tubes filled with gas or liquid (growth tubes)
      • Cracks - feather-like inclusions also known as fractures or fissures
      • Parting - breakage along a plane of weakness
      • Twinning - two crystals grown out of one another or next to each other
      • Halos - circular fractures surrounding a crystal
      • Fingerprints - common in sapphire, these inclusions look like human fingerprints
      • Color zoning - uneven color distribution in the sapphire
      • Cavities - holes extending into the sapphire from the surface
      • Chips - broken off pieces along the girdle or on the culet of the sapphire

      Sapphire Surface Blemishes

      • Scratches - lines scraped on a gemstone
      • Pits - tiny holes on the stone's surface
      • Nicks - broken parts of a stone's girdle or facet
      • Abrasions - rough scrapings along the stone's facet edges

      Clarity Grades

      Gem Nation assigns the following clarity grades to its sapphires:
      • VVS - Very, very slightly included - minor inclusions that can be seen under 10x magnification, but invisible to the naked eye. No effect on appearance.
      • VS - Very slightly included - noticeable inclusions sometimes visible to the unaided eye, and very easy to see under 10x magnification. Little to no effect on brilliance.
      • SI1 - Slightly included - large or numerous inclusions that can be easily seen under 10x magnification. These inclusions are apparent/very apparent with the naked eye. Slight effect on appearance, little to no effect on brilliance.
      • SI2 - Slightly included - obvious inclusions that can be easily seen under 10x magnification. Slight effect on appearance and brilliance.
      • I1 - Obvious inclusions - significant effect on appearance, brilliance and transparency
      • I2 - Prominent inclusions - significant effect on appearance, brilliance and transparency
      • I3 - Numerous and prominent inclusions - severe effect on appearance, brilliance and transparency

      Transparency

      Sapphire Transparency Chart
      Sapphire transparency ranging
      from Transparent to Opaque.
      Transparent is ideal.

      The degree of visibility through a sapphire is known as its transparency. It is an often-overlooked characteristic when discussing sapphires. Transparency is designated as follows:
      • Transparent - objects look clear and distinct through the stone. These sapphires usually have excellent brilliance despite any inclusions they may have.
      • Semitransparent - objects look slightly hazy or blurry through the stone
      • Translucent - objects are difficult to see through the sapphire. Light can pass through, but it is somewhat diffused.
      • Semi-translucent or semi-opaque - a small fraction of light passes through the stone
      • Opaque - almost no light passes through the stone
      In Association with Amazon.com

      Buy Books about Diamonds and Gems

      Gemnation has partnered with Amazon.com to bring you
      the most relevant diamond, gem and ring buying books and guides.
    • Cut
    • Treatments
    • Gemnation Sapphires
  • BOOKS

    BOOKS

  • GLOSSARY

    GLOSSARY

Clarity

Blue sapphires tend to have more inclusions than most fancy-color sapphires. Gemologists use the term "inclusion" to define characteristics found inside a stone. Inclusions are often used as an indication that the gemstone is of natural origin. A "blemish" is a characteristic that affects the stone's surface.

Sapphire Inclusions

  • Crystals - solid inclusions of various shapes and sizes. Extremely small crystals are referred to as pinpoints or grains.
  • Silk - fine fibers of titanium dioxide (rutile) or other minerals that resemble the look of silk. Well-formed silk indicates that the sapphire underwent no heat-treatment and is of natural origin. Silk is a preferred inclusions in sapphires.
  • Needles - long, thin inclusions of either crystals, or tubes filled with gas or liquid (growth tubes)
  • Cracks - feather-like inclusions also known as fractures or fissures
  • Parting - breakage along a plane of weakness
  • Twinning - two crystals grown out of one another or next to each other
  • Halos - circular fractures surrounding a crystal
  • Fingerprints - common in sapphire, these inclusions look like human fingerprints
  • Color zoning - uneven color distribution in the sapphire
  • Cavities - holes extending into the sapphire from the surface
  • Chips - broken off pieces along the girdle or on the culet of the sapphire

Sapphire Surface Blemishes

  • Scratches - lines scraped on a gemstone
  • Pits - tiny holes on the stone's surface
  • Nicks - broken parts of a stone's girdle or facet
  • Abrasions - rough scrapings along the stone's facet edges

Clarity Grades

Gem Nation assigns the following clarity grades to its sapphires:
  • VVS - Very, very slightly included - minor inclusions that can be seen under 10x magnification, but invisible to the naked eye. No effect on appearance.
  • VS - Very slightly included - noticeable inclusions sometimes visible to the unaided eye, and very easy to see under 10x magnification. Little to no effect on brilliance.
  • SI1 - Slightly included - large or numerous inclusions that can be easily seen under 10x magnification. These inclusions are apparent/very apparent with the naked eye. Slight effect on appearance, little to no effect on brilliance.
  • SI2 - Slightly included - obvious inclusions that can be easily seen under 10x magnification. Slight effect on appearance and brilliance.
  • I1 - Obvious inclusions - significant effect on appearance, brilliance and transparency
  • I2 - Prominent inclusions - significant effect on appearance, brilliance and transparency
  • I3 - Numerous and prominent inclusions - severe effect on appearance, brilliance and transparency

Transparency

Sapphire Transparency Chart
Sapphire transparency ranging
from Transparent to Opaque.
Transparent is ideal.

The degree of visibility through a sapphire is known as its transparency. It is an often-overlooked characteristic when discussing sapphires. Transparency is designated as follows:
  • Transparent - objects look clear and distinct through the stone. These sapphires usually have excellent brilliance despite any inclusions they may have.
  • Semitransparent - objects look slightly hazy or blurry through the stone
  • Translucent - objects are difficult to see through the sapphire. Light can pass through, but it is somewhat diffused.
  • Semi-translucent or semi-opaque - a small fraction of light passes through the stone
  • Opaque - almost no light passes through the stone
In Association with Amazon.com

Buy Books about Diamonds and Gems

Gemnation has partnered with Amazon.com to bring you
the most relevant diamond, gem and ring buying books and guides.
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