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Gem of the Month: Sapphire

Posted August 31, 2005 By AussieSapphire

kashmir_sapphire_ecut.jpgAussie Sapphire hopes you enjoy this article on sapphire – our speciality and the birthstone for the month of September. Along with diamond, ruby and emerald, sapphire is regarded as one of the premier gemstones. Known as the ‘celestial gemstone’ by the ancient Persians who believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire with its blue reflection colouring the sky. This “Gem of the Heavens” with blue ranging from the deepest of evening skies to the azure of a summer’s day is a rare treasure that will never go out of style.

Photo: Kashmir sapphire from Pala Gems

Gemmology Matters: Sapphire is the gemstone variety of the mineral corundum Al2O3 – sapphire can be any colour except red. Gem-quality red corundum is called ruby – gems falling outside the relatively narrow spectrum of colour defined by ruby are pink sapphires. Corundum in its pure state is colourless but naturally formed specimens are usually coloured very dark blue, green or brown and almost opaque. The transparent gem varieties show a wide range of colours; titanium causes the typical blue colour of sapphire while varying amounts of iron and chromium result in yellow, green, pink or orange sapphires. Some sapphires contain unusual tiny needle-like inclusions, and are cut in a cabochon shape to display a six-rayed white star.

The hardness of the sapphire is second only to that of the diamond (9 on the Moh scale) making it a very durable and beautiful gemstone for everyday wear. Major sources of sapphire include Thailand, Sri Lanka, Australia, USA (Montana), China and Madagascar. The most desirable source for fine sapphire is Kashmir. Kashmir sapphire has a rich velvety color that is quite unique but due to extreme rarity, is very expensive and hard to find. Until the late 1980’s Australia produced over 70% of the worlds commercial grade sapphire – much of this from the Queensland Gemfields resource. This has resulted in Australian sapphire developing a reputation for being over dark and of low quality. Even though most commercial grade sapphire now comes from other resources such as China, this reputation has persisted. The fact that for many years, overseas buyers have re-labelled our best sapphire as coming from more desirable sources has not helped this situation but Aussie Sapphire is doing as much as we can to correct this misconception and let everyone know that Australia does produce fine quality blue sapphire.

dog_tooth-sm.jpgPhoto: Dog tooth crystal rough and a briolette cut from a similar piece of rough. Note the zoning and lighter colour at the tip of both stones which is typical of these types of crystals.  Stones such as these are often sought after by gem collectors looking for something unusual or crystal healers.

Mythology and Lore: Symbolic of divine favour, sapphires were once reserved for the use of royalty and the priesthood. Up until the late 17th century, anyone else caught wearing them would be punished. Cardinals of the Catholic Church wear sapphire rings and sapphires are prominent in the British Crown Jewels. Sapphire represents truth, sincerity, commitment and fidelity making it a particularly appropriate choice for an engagement ring. In ancient times, lovers gave sapphires in the belief that the stone would not shine if the wearer had been unfaithful. It has been said that sapphires are a reflection of the soul of those who wear them. It was also widely believed that sapphires had magical healing powers and were used as a poison antidote, to stop bleeding, and to cure eye problems and other ailments. Sapphire is the anniversary gift for the 5th, 23rd and 45th years of marriage.

Alternatives in Blue: Nothing really matches the deep rich blue of a top quality sapphire, however, probably the most commonly used gemstone in blue would be Blue Topaz. While Blue Topaz is very affordable, those looking for a more natural alternative should note that the blue colour derives from treatment with radiation. Iolite is an excellent semi-precious gem with deep blue colour – the name of “water sapphire” for iolite indicates its similarity to sapphire. At the other end of the price scale is diamond – very occasionally, Blue Diamonds are found although the colour of most blue diamonds now available results from enhancement treatments. There are interesting blue tones available in Tourmaline but these often have green tones as well. Fine Aquamarine can have good blue colour but is usually much lighter. Nothing can really compare to a fine sapphire. People looking for the best in Australian sapphire are encouraged to discuss their requirements with us.

aussie1.jpgPhoto: Fine blue sapphires from the Reddestone Creek – source of our own Aussie Sapphire gems (left stone cut by Michael Edgett – USA).  These are now available in a range of sizes and shapes from our online shop.

Links of Interest:
International Colored Gemstone Association – article on sapphire
Bernadine Fine Art Jewelry – Sapphire facts, information and description
“Sapphire Connoisseurship” by Richard Hughes
Aussie Sapphire – virtual mine tour, information about sapphire in NSW, etc.

Thats all for now from Aussie Sapphire – remember to check out our upgraded website.

Another way to buy – Ebay Shopping with Aussie Sapphire

Posted August 24, 2005 By AussieSapphire

Aussie Sapphire is pleased to announce that we have opened an ebay store. We will still be operating our main online shop on the Aussie Sapphire website but in order to reach a wider market, we will be operating this additional outlet for those customers who feel more comfortable buying through Ebay. Some items will be more suited to the online shop and some to the Ebay store but we will keep both stocked with some fantastic and unique pieces so you can be sure of always finding some good bargains in cut or rough gems wherever you choose to shop with Aussie Sapphire.

As an opening special, we have some great small parcels of stone (Parcel 1 and Parcel 2) on offer in the Store and an amazing parti coloured sapphire with a unique yellow triangular patch within the blue. This one is up for auction with a starting price of just $0.99 – dont let it get away.

We also have a fantastic 6.3 carat blue sapphire up for auction – also starting at just $0.99 so dont miss this opportunity to grab a genuine Reddestone blue for way below market value.

We will be putting more stock on both website as soon as possible so remember to regularly check this blog for more announcements and both shops for new products.

Remember to check out the new Photo Gallery on our main website (we will be keeping a photo of the triangular parti on the Photo Gallery as this one is unlike any other we have seen). Let us know if you have any suggestions or comments about this or any other part of the various website we now operate.

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

Revised Shipping Charges

Posted August 21, 2005 By AussieSapphire

Unfortunately, we have to announce that we must impose a slight increase in our postage and handling charges. This is solely due to the increases in parcel post charged by Australia Post.

Australia Post will be increasing some of their charges from the 1st September – our shipping charges are based on cost recovery (not profit) so our new postage charges will not increase until that date. The changes are postage within Australia by Registered Post will now cost $6, an increase of $1. Postage overseas by normal airmail will increase to $15 AU for a registered parcel with minimum insurance of $100. This method of postage has the advantage of requiring a signature for pickup at the Post Office so parcels will not be delivered to your unattended mailbox where they may disappear before you collect it – a little bit more secure for very little extra cost. The cost of Express Courier International delivery remains the same at $45 AU – this method is slightly faster and offers some parcel tracking but is a little more expensive.

Additional insurance is available if required – just contact us for a quote and we can organise an electronic invoice or alternative method of payment.

cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

Mine Run parcels

Posted August 21, 2005 By AussieSapphire

Just a quick announcement for those interested in larger parcels of sapphire. We have just listed 3 parcels of mine run graded sapphire on our website. We are busy grading up our main parcels for buyers in Thailand and China over the next month or so – when these parcels are completed, the online parcels will also be offered for export. Therefore, buyers only have a short time to consider these larger parcels before they go off-shore.

Three parcels are currently on offer (EDITED 29/8/05):
NOW SOLD – Mine Run Parcel 1 – 500 carats of mixed size (1.75 – 30 carats) for total price of $3000 AU – New England sapphire of good blue, blue-green and parti colour.
NOW SOLD – Mine Run Parcel 2 – 2480 carats of small size and darker colour (1 – 6 carats) for total price of $2100 AU (discounted price due to size range) – Queensland sapphire.
Mine Run Parcel 3 – 3000 carats of mixed size (4 – 50 carats) for total price of $9000 AU. Excellent Queensland parti colour sapphire from the Subera mine.

Please contact us if you would like any further information on these parcels or any other item in our catalogues.

Remember we have a comprehensive catalogue of small cut sapphire in a range of shapes and sizes. Please see our “More Sapphire” pages to buy these.

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

Gem of the Month: Peridot

Posted August 18, 2005 By AussieSapphire

Havent had time to keep up with our planned Gem of the Week articles so shifting to a monthly format. As such, the obvious choice for August is its birthstone, peridot.

Gemmology matters: Peridot is the gemstone variety of the Olivine (Mg,Fe)2SiO4 mineral group and is a transparent lime or olive green. The green color is due to the presence of iron within the mineral. Peridot is found in Australia, Brazil, China, Eygpt, Myanmar, Norway, and USA – major commercial deposits are found in Arizona (USA) and Pakistan. Peridot is interesting for its ability to “glow like a coal” at night. This “glow” let prospectors spot deposits in the dark and mark them for digging the next day. Peridot has a hardness of 6.5.

Mthology and Lore: Peridot was thought to help dreams become a reality, and was often given as a symbol of fame, dignity, and protection. Peridot is said to help ward off anxiety and ensure success in relationships and marriage. Peridot is the anniversary gift for the 16th year of marriage. Legend has it that pirates favored peridot to protect them against evil. When the peridot was set in gold it also protected the wearer from terrors in the night.

Peridot was very popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans who coveted its brilliant green sparkle. This gem has been found in Egyptian jewellery from the early second millennium BC. Cleopatra reportedly had a fine collection of peridot. During their 600-year reign, the Ottoman Sultans gathered the largest known collection of peridot gems.

Alternatives in Green: While peridot is characterised by a hint of yellow within the green, there are a number of alternative gemstones in green. Emerald is the most well known of the green gems and in fact, peridot has been mistaken for emerald in the past – the nickname “Evening Emerald” for peridot has added to this confusion. Emerald is usually a much deeper green, is often quite included and much more expensive. Tourmaline is another gem with excellent varieties of green – the indicolite variety of tourmaline tends to a blue-green hue and the more common green tourmaline often has an olive tone. The other standout alternative is tsavorite (green garnet) which can be a neon green colour.

Links of interest:
ICGA Gem by Gem – article on Peridot
Bernadine Fine Art Jewelry – articles on Peridot as a birthstone and Peridot mythology

Peridot is an affordable gemstone with an attractive colour that lifts the spirits – well suited as the August gemstone when thoughts are turning to Spring. Aussie Sapphire does not currently have any peridot rough or faceted gemstones in stock but we have a very small selection of jewellery featuring this beautiful gemstone.
See photo at left for a sterling silver bracelet with 4 large (8.5 x 6.5 mm) oval gems – Amethyst, Peridot, Garnet and Citrine. This one is brand new so not yet priced and catalogued – please enquire directly for more information if required.

Hope you enjoyed this article and stay tuned for the next one on Sapphire – the gemstone for September. Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire