Heated or unheated sapphires! That is the question! Does it matter? Should you care?
We chatting about the difference between unheated and heated sapphires, reasons to love them, and things to consider with each type of stone.
Most sapphires are heated at extremely high temperatures to intensify their color, remove color-zoning, and improve their clarity. This practice goes back to when sapphires were first discovered and were held to the fire to improve their appearance.
How common are heated sapphires?
It’s the industry-wide norm for most sapphires. When shopping, you can assume every sapphire has been heated unless it’s specifically labelled as 'unheated'.
Does heat treatment affect the quality of the stone?
Definitely not. This is a standardized process that doesn’t affect the quality, longevity, or durability of the stone. It’s extremely common and nothing to be concerned about.
Why do heat treatment?
Only about 1% of all sapphires found are of gem-quality without heat treatment.
If we only used the 1% of sapphires that were naturally of gem-quality, 99% of the gems mined would be discarded. That would not be nearly enough to meet the world's demand. And that would be an incredible waste of Earth's precious resources.
So, while many sapphire aficionados love the untouched, natural beauty of an unheated sapphire, we also celebrate this natural treatment that allows more gems to be loved and worn.
Reasons to love heat-treated sapphires
Heat-treated sapphires are most sapphires, and we are devoted lovers of sapphires of every kind, both heated and unheated – the mesmerizing deep blues, the aquatic teals, the magical bi-colors. Sapphires are the single most versatile stone with so many color choices and a hardness only beaten by diamonds.
Compared to unheated sapphires:
- You will get a more vibrant, saturated stone for your budget if you choose a heated sapphire.
- Most heated sapphires are eye-clean, with no inclusions visible to the naked eye. Unheated sapphires will have whatever inclusions were naturally created within them.
Things to think about with heated sapphires
- They’re less rare than unheated stones and will likely not appreciate in value in the same way.
Natural Unheated Sapphires
These are sapphires in their most natural form – they’re mined, cut and polished into gemstones without any treatment or enhancements.
Why we love unheated sapphires
There’s something so magical about a completely untouched, nature-made gemstone that we just can’t resist. While some of these stones may have more inclusions, they mark that stone’s unique path over millions of years on this planet.
Unheated stones are also incredibly rare, making up only 1% of all sapphires, and who doesn’t love that? This rarity also adds to their value now and these stones will likely continue to appreciate as their supply decreases.
Things to think about with unheated sapphires
- Unheated sapphires are more expensive than their heat-treated counterparts. For a comparable-looking stone, you will pay quite a bit more.
- Unheated sapphires usually have more visible inclusions. Some people love and appreciate these marks of mother nature and others prefer a more flawless finish.
- Because they are much rarer, it’s more difficult to find a specific stone if you already have something in mind. Having said that, we have many stunning unheated loose sapphires available on the site!
non-industry-approved sapphire treatments - LATTICE DIFFUSION
In this treatment, a sapphire is heated alongside another material like beryllium or titanium. The combination of heat plus the beryllium or titanium changes or intensifies the color significantly. Sapphires diffused with beryllium will be pink, orange, or yellow, and titanium-diffused stones become a bright blue color.
This process is usually used to make low quality, unsaturated, inclusion-heavy stones into saleable gemstones. These sapphires will cost much less than heated sapphires. This process must be disclosed to the buyer before purchase. We don't sell any of these stones at Gem Breakfast.