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About our Sapphires

 

 

 



Our sapphires.

 

Most people would be totally unaware that today a good percentage of the worlds sapphires originate in Australia. Sapphires are aquired in Australia and marketed worldwide by more familiar names such as "burmese" or "thai" sapphires. You can read much more on this in the articles below.

 

Sapphiresforher.com's sapphires are natural and sourced from the sapphire fields around the towns of Sapphire, Rubyvale and Emerald in central Queensland  and the famous fields around the towns of Glenn Innes and Inverell in New south Wales Australia.

 

If neccessary some of our sapphires, but not all, have  been subjected to a minimum amount of heat treatment , simply to remove any silk ,which is more than accepted as quite standard in the market today. No other treatments have been used to enhance the quality of our natural sapphires. Once again , please read on to gain a better understanding of some of the treatments used on sapphires today.

 

We are dedicated to honesty and integrity in the market place and as such we only source sapphire from Austraila where we know of it's definite origin. Many companies/shops will nominate a country of origin from which they claim their sapphires originated. Gemoligists the world over will tell you that it is near impossible to identify a sapphires origin. Customers buying from us have the peace of mind of definitive authenticity and origin of their sapphire as we don't try and claim our sapphire is from somewhere it's not. Sapphires marked as "Untreated" on the website indicates that there has been absolutely no treatemnt whatsoever carried out on those particular stones. Sapphires not marked as "Untreated" are subject to mild heat treatment as stated above.


We also source from other smaller mining operators around Australia, but we always only source directly from the miners and or cutters in the industry so we can guarantee the sapphires origin and treatments if any applied. We have built up our supplier base from being personlly involved as miners in the Opal indusrty for over 40 years. http://www.opalstop.com

Every sapphire on the website , whether already set as sapphire jewellery or just loose sapphire is carefully selected by us to be presented to the public for sale.  Our loose sapphires are extremely popular for that personal touch as many customers like to purchase that special sapphire and have it made to their specifications as a sapphire ring , sapphire pendant or sapphire earrings. An everlasting piece of sapphire jewellery to be handed down from one generation to the next.

 

 

ALL OUR SAPPHIRES COME WITH A GUARANTEE OF AUTHENTICITY IN THE FORM OF A SIGNED CERTIFICATE DETAILING THE SAPPHIRES PARTICULARS ISSUED BY SOUTHERN GEMS OF AUSTRALIA.

 

Our appreciation to:

 

 http://www.australiansapphire.com/ an authority on Sapphires for the following content.

 

Australian Sapphire

 

Sapphire has been mined in Australia for over 100 years and Australian mines have produced commercial quantities for at least 50 years. For several decades recognition of the quality and quantity of sapphire produced in Australia has been concealed by many international vested interests in an effort to control the supply and price of sapphire gems.

 

As a result the best Australian sapphire has often been sold as being "Ceylon" or "Thai" material and this has concealed the very high quality and outstanding colour range of Australian Material.

 

The history of sapphire gems in Australia stretches back over 150 years. One of the first reports is from 1851 when sapphire was recovered during gold mining on the Cudgegong and Macquarie rivers in New South Wales. In 1854 sapphire was reported from the New England area of New South Wales and in 1875 Sapphire was discovered in Retreat Creek, Central Queensland. Numerous small deposits have been found up and down Eastern Australia.

 

The discoveries near Inverell on the New England tableland in Northern New South Wales and at Sapphire and Rubyvale in Central Queensland lead to the development of a commercial Sapphire Mining Industry in Australia. The much later discovery of sapphire at Lava Plains in North Queensland further complemented this industry.

 

Most of the early production from Australia went through German jewellery agents and was sold into other European countries. The reason for for early export into Europe came from Russian Miners who worked the Central Queensland gem fields in the late 1800s. A good number of Australian sapphires found their way into the crown jewels of the Russian Imperial family and other Russian nobility. After the collapse of this market because of the Russian revolution, the impact of wars and the depression, sapphire mining saw hard times until the advent of machinery mining and the arrival of Thai Buyers in the 1970's. 

 

In 2002/03, miners have witnessed an almost complete boycott of Australian rough sapphire by the Thai buyer. The boycott is in retaliation against efforts by some of the Australian producers to achieve viable prices that will at least cover the increased costs of mining the rough sapphire.

 

The marketing of Australian sapphires has for most of it's history been handled by agents and interests outside Australia, to the detriment of Australian producers.

 

As far back as 1902, Mr B Dunstans (Government Geologist) reportedly quoted from a letter written by a firm of lapidaries in Geneva " Fine sapphires, equal to those from Burma have been found amongst the Australian gemstones. Most of these are sent to Germany by dealers, where they are sorted. The best gems are afterwards sold separately under another name, and the inferior lots sold as Australian". This misrepresentation still continues today.

 

Today buyers from Thailand are a major consumer of Australia's sapphire production. Invariable the better grade is processed in the Thai cutting factories and sold on as stone from Thailand , Burma or Sri Lanka. Only the lowest grades are sold as Australian.

 

This has to be seen as a deliberate ploy to undermine the value of Australian sapphires and to perpetuate a widely held but false perception about Australian stones. To even further misrepresent the quality of Australian sapphire the budget jewellery market has witnessed very low grade stones sold as Australian Midnight Blue. These stones do not come from Australia. The most likely source is Vietnam or China.

 

Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka are still widely perceived as major sources of Sapphire. The truth is that most of the commercial deposits in these countries have been depleted for years and stone that is sold as coming from these sources is really renamed material for other countries with Australia and Madagascar being the most probable sources of the better quality material.

 

Recent years have seen Australian producers start to take a more active role in the marketing and promotion of the quality Sapphires that they produce. This site is just part of the effort to correct the misrepresentations of the past and strive to provide a true picture of the quality of sapphires produced in Australia.

 

This approach by the Thai buyers is very short sighted. If it continues it will cause a cessation of large scale sapphire mining in Australia. There is no point in producing sapphire if the mining costs are not covered.

 

The longer term consequences of this could well be that the only large scale sapphire mining will be from the lower quality deposits of Africa and China. Once the Thai's have exhausted their stockpiles of quality rough where will the quality sapphire come from ? Will the Australian sapphire boycott remain in place ?








 

AnchorHEAT TREATMENT OF SAPPHIRE



Anybody who wishes to gain more technically correct or detailed information on the treatment process can do so by visiting the website of Gemlab Inc., whose principal, Mr. Ted Themelis has been a world leader in such technology testing. His website is



Coolamon Mining Pty. Ltd guarantees that no chemical treatment of any kind is used in the production of our sapphires, and that all information is disclosed.



The above article was extracted from a talk given by Mr. Jim Elliot, Coolamon Mining, at the Central Queensland GEMFEST - August 2003

 

www.themelis.com.

 

( A layman's simplified explanation of the various levels of treatment)

 

Sapphire is formed deep down below the earth's surface, some 65 kilometres down, and comes to the surface in a volcanic explosion in a 'formation tube' or vent. The sapphire comes up at the forefront of a volcanic eruption and is expelled with the pyroclast, or volcanic ash. This is typical for all Australian sapphire occurrences.

 

If the temperature in this formation tube is hot enough, and the residence time is long enough, the sapphire is clarified, on its journey to the surface. The main contaminant in sapphire is rutile (Iron - Titanium Oxide) and if the temperature/time relationship is sufficient this is volatilised and expelled from the sapphire or it is reabsorbed add reconverted within the crystal.

 

However, if the temperature is too low, or the rate of travel of the sapphire and pyroclast up the tube too rapid, the sapphire may be left with inclusions such as the "silk" veils which often cloud natural sapphire crystals.

 

The Thais developed the practice of commercial heat treatment many years ago to remove these silk veils to produce stones of improved clarity and brilliance This process has always been considered quite acceptable as no chemicals were added, and the holding of the sapphire at high temperatures to bring about this improvement was essentially only mimicking nature and was just finishing off what nature had started.

 

However, the heat treatment technology has been greatly extended in man's quest to turn lower quality material into brighter stone in the endless search for more profit - and some quite dubious if not actually false practices have resulted in recent years!!

 

A simplified explanation of the levels of heat treatment is as follows :-

 

a. Natural Untreated Sapphire.

 

This may be totally clear or may have small inclusions or silk bands. Whilst it was once the accepted practice to heat treat to remove all "silk', this is now not always done as a small quantity of silk is considered acceptable, if not actually desirable since untreated good quality material usually commands a premium price. We try not to heat treat wherever possible.

 

b. Simple Heat Treatment

 

This is considered quite acceptable in the jewellery trade as no chemicals are added and the sapphire is not changed chemically apart from the removal or conversion of the rutile and contaminant bonds.

 

This is a simple process brought about by a one-off heat treatment, and the resultant clarification of the sapphire is permanent and irreversible.

 

No radiation, chemicals or health risks are involved in this process.

 

EVERY SAPPHIRE WHICH ORIGINATES FROM THAILAND OR IS CUT IN THAILAND MUST BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE BEEN SUBJECT TO AT LEAST THIS SIMPLE HEAT TREATMENT AS NORMAL PRACTICE.

 

c. Multiple Heat Treatment - Colour Generation

 

In certain cases, the amount of included material is too great to be removed by the simple one-off heat treatment process, So a system was developed of multiple heat treatments, sometimes in the presence of fluxing agents, which eventually lead to a clearer or brighter stone of acceptable colour.

 

Much of the "Ceylon" sapphire on the market comes from Australia or from Madagascar and may have been subject to a simple treatment process, but a portion of it started off life as Geuda Stone from Sri Lanka. This very highly included stone looks like a "moldy potato" before heat treatment.

 

The geuda stone is heat treated as many as six or eight times in order to clarify it and produce the pale "Ceylon Blue" which is sold at quite high prices - but is essentially a heat generated colour.

 

d. Bulk Chemical Diffusion - Beryllium Treatment.

 

The chemical diffusion process is carried out by multiple heat treatments of the sapphire in the presence of artificially introduced elements like beryllium or titanium, which penetrate the structure of the sapphire.

 

The beryllium treatment is carried out to produce golden, yellow, orange, apricot, padparadschas and similar colours from lower grade rough sapphire or from sapphire of less desirable colours. The beryllium can penetrate the sapphire to a considerable depth and can be difficult to detect.

 

The chemically modified stone may have good colour and brilliance, but it is no longer a 'natural sapphire' and cannot be sold without proper and adequate disclosure of the treatment it has suffered. It is essentially a "fake", albeit sometimes a very good one!!

 

The titanium treatment is carried out to enhance the colour and brilliance of blue sapphires, but the depth of penetration is far less than that for beryllium treatment and consequently repolishing of a stone may remove part of the chemically imparted colour.

 

Concerns have been raised as to the possible health risks arising from the beryllium treatment process, and these concerns are very real for the operators of heat treatment furnaces as the beryllium vapour is highly toxic.

 

Beryllium treated sapphire has only been present on the world markets - in the last two years or so, and it is still too soon to know whether the process may result in any long term health problems for the wearer of such chemically treated stones.

 

Persons selling beryllium treated sapphires are required to disclose the fact clearly and adequately to purchasers. However, since some sellers have been known not to make the requited disclosure, buyers are recommended to seek a guarantee or statement of authenticity for their purchases.


 

 

 

 

Sapphire is the gem quality form of Corundum. It is second only to Diamond in hardness. The hardness of corundum is due in part to the strong and short oxygen-aluminium bonds. These bonds pull the oxygen and aluminium atoms close together. This makes the crystal not only hard but also quite dense for a mineral made up of two relatively light elements.



Chemical Formula: Al2O3, Aluminium Oxide

VARIETY OF: Corundum , Al2O3 .

USES: Gemstone (for high grade material) and abrasive

 

Birthstone for September.

 

Index of refraction: 1.76-1.78

 



BIREFRINGENCE: 0.009

HARDNESS: 9

Lustre is vitreous to adamantine.

Transparency: Crystals are transparent to translucent.

Crystal System is trigonal; bar 3 2/m

Crystal Habits include sapphire's typical six-sided barrel shape that may taper into a pyramid, and ruby's hexagonal prisms and blades.

Specific Gravity is approximately 4.0+

Cleavage is absent, although there is parting which occurs in three directions.

Streak is white.

Other Characteristics: Refractive index is around 1.77; pleochroic (meaning colour intensity is variable from different viewing directions); striations on parting surfaces

 

 

 

Main colours: Blue, green, parti(a mix of colours), yellow, bi-coloured

 

Rare Colours:

Golden Yellow, orange, apricot, purple, pink, red (Ruby)

The pink to red colour of ruby stems from its chromium content, whereas the sapphire's blue results from its titanium content. Yellow and green sapphires contain variable amounts of ferrous and ferric iron.

 

Source: http://www.australiansapphire.com/

 


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