Looking for the perfect place to buy sapphire jewelry online?
You're in the right place! In this Learning Jewelry guide I'll answer common questions like:
- What Should You Look For When Buying Sapphires Online?
- Are Sapphires Good For An Engagement Ring?
- How Do You Know You're Getting A Good Deal?
- What Are The Red Flags To Watch Out For When Buying?
Top 4 Best Places to Buy Sapphire Jewelry Online
If you need the list quick, here are my top picks for finding quality sapphires from reputable online dealers. Keep reading for more information about each of these shops.
What is Sapphire Jewelry?
Sapphire is one of the most recognizable colored gemstones in the market by customers. Sapphire is also the birthstone of September and is most known for its dark blue color.
Both sapphires and rubies come from the mineral called corundum. In fact, all red corundum is ruby and every other color of corundum is sapphire. You'll most likely see pink sapphire and white sapphire in jewelry stores like Zales and Jared.
There are many things to know when picking out the best quality sapphires. Let's get into it!
#1. Buying Sapphire At James Allen
James Allen carries a the largest selection of both loose sapphires and sapphire jewelry. You can find blue sapphires, pink sapphire, yellow sapphire, and green sapphire as loose stones in their catalogue.
They carry them in various shapes, tones, hues, and saturations. You can see their stones at 20x magnification via their 360 degree viewing technology. They all have received heat treatment, which means they have been altered to enhance their color. We'll talk about treated and untreated sapphires further down.
Unfortunately you aren't able to view your sapphire in the setting like you can with a diamond. It makes it a little harder to envision your blue sapphire engagement ring, but you can be sure that you know exactly what your stone looks like.
You can easily find blue sapphire jewelry on James Allen by going to their birthstones section. They carry a vast selection of blue sapphire rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Most of their blue sapphire jewelry is darker, but there are a few lighter pieces like these gorgeous sapphire and pearl drop earrings:
Lastly, James Allen has a fantastic free lifetime warranty that covers any routine maintenance your jewelry will need such as inspections, cleaning, retipping prongs, and rhodium plating white gold sapphire jewelry. You can even get it checked at select Jared stores.
Buying Sapphire Jewelry At Leibish & Co
If you're looking for both affordable and untreated sapphires, Leibish & Co is going to be your go to. Leibish & Co. will have treated and untreated sapphires with better cut shapes than you might find at James Allen.
Some of their sapphires are labeled as ceylon and have origins from Sri Lanka. They have 1 page of loose sapphires priced under $5000 and many in double digits, making it great for collectors and premium buyers.
You can see the loose sapphires through a 360 viewer as well and high magnification. They also have sapphire jewelry, but it's a small collection of under 100 pieces and they are mostly blue sapphires, with a few yellow and pink sapphires. Check out this beautiful pair of yellow sapphire earrings from Leibish and Co.
Leibish and Co offers a lifetime warranty on all of their jewelry covering rhodium plating, prongs, cleaning, and inspection. They also allow one free ring resizing within the first two years of purchase. They also repair outside the warranty for a cost.You always pay for shipping as well.
Why James Allen is better: Leibish and Co. offers some of the most prestigious sapphires on the market, but they're not readily accessible for the average bank account. With only a few choices under $5000, not everyone can afford. But they might be able to afford this gorgeous 1 carat oval pink sapphire and diamond engagement ring combo for less than $2000.
Buying Sapphire Jewelry At Brian Gavin
Brian Gavin is another online retailer that carries loose sapphires. Their prices are around the same as Leibish and Co. and so is the quality. These stones will be evenly cut sapphires that stay true to their exact shape.
I definitely like Brian Gavin's variations of sapphire colors, especially the purple sapphire. They have more variants in their collections that Leibish and Co's. But I definitely prefer the price of James Allen.
Brian Gavin doesn't allow you to create a sapphire engagement ring, unless it's through their custom design process. They don't have a 360 viewer either. But, they are so highly priced that anything you purchase from Brian Gavin will be an excellent stone.
For example, look at this breathtakingly rare untreated cushion cut padparadscha sapphire, which is a variety of sapphire that can cost up to $50,000 per carat!
Brian Gavin doesn't have any settings to put their loose sapphires in so you can only buy the stone. SInce it's just the stone, Brian Gavin won't have any warranties available. They also only want to entertain serious buyers, so if their stones aren't in your price range, you'll want to move along.
Why James Allen is Better: Not only does James Allen carry a rainbow of sapphire colors priced for both high and low end, they have many settings for you to put your beautiful sapphire in without a lengthy and expensive process.
Each of their settings come with a lifetime warranty that covers routine maintenance. If you're going to buy a high quality sapphire engagement ring, make sure that it has a warranty.
Buying Sapphire Jewelry At Jared
Jared carries a larger selection of natural sapphires than their sister store, Kay Jewelers. However, most of their collection is online. They offer a 360 view of their sapphire engagement rings, but you don't get to choose the stone unless you do a custom in-store. Their descriptions are also a bit lax and vague.
What bothers me most is that they have a disclaimer saying that their stones "might" be treated, or the color "might" not be what you see on the screen. The carat weights are estimated and not exact, and there is no information on the color or clarity of the sapphires.
They also carry lab-created sapphires for the most part. You can hear them called synthetic sapphires. There's a lot of confusion regarding lab created/synthetic gemstones being real.
Lab created stones are real, but they aren't mined out of the ground. The conditions in which the crystals formed are created in a lab in order to provoke the elements into crystalizing to create sapphire gemstones or others.
Lab created sapphires are the real thing, but much cheaper. You can find many lab created sapphire pieces from Jared under $150.
Why James Allen is better: James Allen gives you full disclosure on if your sapphire is treated or untreated, as well as exact carat points and exact clarity. There is no "close your eyes and hope for the best" kind of customer experience that Jared online gives.
FAQ When Buying Sapphire Jewelry Online
Are Sapphires Good For An Engagement Ring?
Corundum a rating of 9 on the Moh Scale of hardness. You actually see sapphires placed in diamond engagement rings quite often. You should be able to find at least one diamond sapphire engagement ring in a local fine jewelry retailer and many online.
You'll find more diamond rings with sapphire center stones online, however. Sapphire is a great option for an engagement ring. because it's durable enough for daily wear. Be wary of treatments as it could change your sapphires' appearance.
Is Sapphire Jewelry More Expensive?
In general, sapphire jewelry is going to be less expensive than diamonds. With diamonds, the value is based on how clear the diamond is, regarding both color and clarity.
Blue sapphires are going to be the most expensive of all the sapphires and they are valued by their color. If you have a diamond with lower diamond grades , it might be less expensive than a high quality Vivid sapphire like the one below from Leibish and Co.
Similarly, even an 8 carat pink sapphire might be more expensive than a 1 carat diamond. You can't really pit colored gemstones against diamonds in a fair fight, because the two have different qualifiers that deem them valuable.
There are always exceptions though. The rare Kashmir blue sapphire with its velvety blue color is more rare than a diamond. Only a few are wealthy enough to own such a rarity. There are museums that you are able to view a Kashmir sapphire.
What Should You Look For When Buying Sapphire Online?
You've probably heard of the 4Cs by now, a diamond grading system put forth by the Gemological Institute of America. With gemstones, they follow the same basic guidelines, but without the actual grades.
With diamonds, the cut is the most important of the 4Cs. But with colored gemstones, the cut doesn't affect the value as much. It's true, you do want a nicely shaped sapphire.
Sapphires come in all different shapes but are often found in round or princess cut. They are most often seen as faceted gems in the jewelry world, but also have a presence among cabochons.
The most coveted sapphire cabochon is the star sapphire. Star sapphires are the result of rutile inclusions in the sapphire crystal. Gem cutter cut the cabochon in order to create the star sapphire look.
There's no actual cut standard for sapphires. You'll want to make sure the table of stone is centered and the shape looks even and like it's supposed to. But overall, when it comes down to value and pricing, the cut has little impact.
Sapphires are most valued by their color and their color tone, hue, and saturation.
Tone is how is basically how dark or light the stone is. Colorless corundum would receive a 0. An gemstone color tone can be Very Light, Light, Medium, Medium Dark, Dark, and Very Dark. Medium to Dark is optimal for high quality sapphires.
Hue is the color that can be seen through the light in a gemstone. The GIA hue scale is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and purple. Sapphires can be green with secondary hues of either violet or green.
Colored Gemstone Hue Example
Sapphires have different names according to the intensities of their hue. You might find the different shades of blue sapphire named, such as ceylon sapphires from Sri Lanka, royal blue sapphires from Burma, steely gray sapphires from Montana in the United States, or the priceless Kashmir sapphires.
The hues in a sapphire can range based on the color of sapphire. Valued blue sapphires may contain secondary hues of green and violet. While sapphires may be valued most at a pure blue color, the violet hues are very prized as well.
Hues on a grading report for a blue sapphire may be shown as Slightly Green, Strongly Green, Slightly Violet, or Strongly Violet. It will be displayed as slvB for slightly violet blue. The main color's initial is always capitalized.
Saturation is how intense the color is in the sapphire. Low saturations in colored gemstones make the stone appear either grayish or brown, depending on the color of the gemstone.
For cool colors like blue, violet or green, low saturation causes the stone to look grayish. For warm colors like yellow, red, and orange, low saturation will cause these colors to look brownish. You may see the saturation terms on a grading report from the GIA as follows:
The clarity of a gemstone refers to how transparent the stone is when the light is reflected through it. A sapphire with a darker tone won't show inclusions near as much as a lighter.
Eye-clean sapphires are hard to find and they are expensive. The clarity of a sapphire isn't a huge deal if you're not a collector. Just look for a sapphire whose inclusions may be deep enough or on closer to the girdle of the stone.
Clarities of colored gemstones are stated the same way diamonds are using the I2, I1, SI2 SI1, VS, VVS, and IF clarity scale, similar to diamonds. Type I is eye-clean gemstones, as in gemstones whose clarities are typically free of inclusions.
Type II is sometimes included, and Type III is almost always included. A sapphire that is eye-clean means that there shouldn't be any noticeable inclusions with the naked eye.
Internally flawless untreated natural sapphires are very expensive, so you should definitely check a grading report if you find one advertised as a deal. You can't cut corners with high quality sapphires.
Sapphires don't usually increase heavily in cost when they increase in carat weight. You're actually more likely to find sapphires over 1 carat than you are to find under it. It's easy to produce larger stones.
However, you won't usually find any sapphires over 5 carats in the commercial market. Larger sapphires increase in cost when their clarities are pristine and the color is fancy vivid. These factors in a larger carat weight will make prices skyrocket.
Red Flags When Buying Sapphires Online?
When you're scouring the internet for sapphires, you're going to come across many options.
You may also see jewelry being advertised as simulated sapphires or the word sapphire in the headline, but the fine print in the description says differently. Simulated sapphires are stones that are passed off as sapphires, but are either another gemstone, or man-made entirely.
Spinel, cubic zirconia, zircon, and colorless quartz that has been thermal shocked are all sapphire simulants. Look out for these words throughout any online listing. Here's an example of something you might see:
See, it says sapphire, but then says CZ right after. It's cubic zirconia, which is a man-made stone made to basically pretend like it's another gemstone. In this case, it's pretending to be sapphire. Make sure that when you're shopping online, you pay attention to these.
It's very common for sapphires to be heat treated or receive other treatments to improve clarity or colors. Untreated sapphires will cost more than treated ones. Heat treatments often remove rutile inclusions and improves tone and saturation.
A heat treated sapphire will of the same quality will cost 20%-30% less than an untreated sapphire. But, heat treatment are normal. Gem sellers are supposed to put heat treatments if known on their products, but not all do.
You can never know for sure if your sapphire is heat treated unless you have its certification or grading reports. A grading report will ensure you're getting what you paid for.
How to get the Best Deal When Buying Sapphires Online?
I'm going to leave you with three lasting tips to remember when buying emeralds online.
Make sure you can see the stone
If you choose a blue sapphire that's dark enough, you won't see inclusions, but it's still important to buy from a store (online or offline) that lets you see the stone in magnification.
This could be through a video clip, under gemscope magnification, 360 viewing technology, and showroom viewings at physical locations. The exception to this would be Brian Gavin, whose reputation is good for high quality sapphires.
Buy from a reputable dealer
Sapphires are in abundance, but a high quality untreated sapphire can cost a fortune. Many people turn to private dealers, Facebook, and more frequently, WhatsApp.
While it's very possible to find legitimate dealers on these sites, it's very hard to track unless they have a formal business. It's important to buy from someone you can trust. All of the jewelry stores aforementioned in this article and reputable and reliable jewelry dealer.
Don't compromise on Cut
Sapphire is right under the durability of a diamond, making it perfect for daily wear. Color may be the most important visually for a sapphire, but a Poor Cut will make your sapphire weak and vulnerable to chipping or breaking. Make sure you guard the cut with the same importance as sapphire color.