Let’s talk about heated and unheated sapphires! What heat treatment is and all the questions you may have about it. Heat treatment is a very common and accepted practice in the world of jewelry. Gemstones are exposed to high temperatures to enhance their color and clarity.
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What is heat treatment?
Heating gemstones generally enhances their color. They can be lightened, darkened, saturated, through heat treatment. Heat treatment is applied to all shades of sapphire, but mostly to achieve the highly sought-after Royal Blue color as it is extremely rare to find that color in nature.
It is also used to enhance a stones clarity. Think of it as if by heating the stone you are melting the imperfections down to a more translucent stone.
Are heat treated sapphires real?
Yes! Heat treatment only enhances the color of a natural stone, which is why the treatment is widely accepted and has become an industry norm. Although other treatments may be frowned upon within the jewelry industry, heat treatment is a common practice! Instead of thinking of it as a treatment, think of it as an enhancement. When buying a sapphire, it is expected that the stone you purchase has been heated, unless specifically stated that it hasn’t.
However, when buying an unheated stone, it is always safe to have a certification for it and have it appraised by a third party just to make sure you are getting what you are paying for.
Are heat treated gems less valuable?
Heat treated gems are not less valuable because 95% of sapphires and rubies are heated treated. It is only when a stone is unheated with a nice color, will it be worth more because to find that color naturally occurring with ought any enhancements is very rare, thus fetching higher price points.
For example, we have a heated 2.6 ct sapphire that values $9568, whereas a non-heated and slightly lighter sapphire in almost the same size is worth $9250. The reason for that is because it was naturally found in this extremely sought-after color. Comparably, a paler heated sapphire also in the same size is valued at $1220. This jump in the price is due to the heat treatment.
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Are Unheated Sapphires Rare?
Unheated sapphires become increasingly rare and hard to find the larger the carat weight and the closer to royal blue you want. Finding them within the 1-2ct range is allot easier especially in less popular colors such as pinks, greens, teals and in less saturated shades. Finding good quality stones over 2cts are highly desired and few are readily available. This is why we always suggest clients be prepared for longer delays, to source them and be lenient on the exact shade.
Do heated sapphires fade?
No! When a sapphire is heat treated, the color it reaches remains permanent. There are treatments such as radiation which are not permanent and can fade over time, which will decrease the value of your stone but for heat treatments this is not the case.
Are heat treated sapphires less durable?
Heat treatment does not affect the durability and strength of a sapphire, it simply heightens its color.