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Buying Diffused Sapphires

Updated on October 22, 2013

What is a Sapphire?

Diffused sapphire jewelry is becoming more and more popular as an economical alternative to a much more expensive natural sapphires. The gemstones are treated to create stunning blue colors that didn't exist in the original stone. The result is a stunningly clear blue stone that can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of an untreated stone.

Corundum, the crystal that makes up a sapphire is a mineral comprised of aluminum oxide with other trace metals. The composition of trace metals present in the aluminum oxide are what determine the color of a natural sapphire. When corundum is transparent, it is used as a gemstone. Red corundum is called ruby, orange-pink is called padparadscha, and all other colors of corundum are referred to as sapphire. The most common color of sapphire jewelry is blue.

The 423-carat (85 g) blue Logan Sapphire
The 423-carat (85 g) blue Logan Sapphire

Diffused Sapphires

Diffused sapphires are treated, lesser valuable natural sapphire stones. The diffusion process heats the corundum to near-melting point while the stone is in the presence of color-enhancing materials. The most common materials used in this treatment are generally titanium and beryllium. Depending on the processes used the diffusion results in either a surface diffusion of color into the original stone or a deeper level of diffusion. Basically diffusion bakes the trace materials into the sapphire that create the stunning color.

Because these materials were not originally present in the corundum, the resulting gemstones are not as valuable as sapphires that come out of the ground with the same color. This presents a value opportunity for the shopper who wants the beauty of a clear blue sapphire without paying the full price of one.

Diffused Sapphire Jewelry

Diffused sapphires are used in jewelry the same way as untreated sapphires are. There are a wide variety of rings, pendants, and earrings available. When buying diffused sapphires it is important that the retailer informs you of any treatment processes used in the creation of the jewelry you are buying so that you are aware of what you are really receiving.

Effy, a New York based jewelry designer famous for their craftsmanship and use of vivid gemstones, has recently released a new line of diffused sapphires through Macy's department stores. The Effy line is titled "Velvet Bleu" and is available at Macy's across the country and through their website.

Caring for Diffused Sapphires

Generally diffused sapphires can be cleaned the same way that other sapphires are cared for. Use warm water and dish soap or a detergent that has the ability to degrease. Do not use anything with an abrasive agent or a moisturizing soap. Use a soft cloth to clean the stone. Ideally one should use a cleaner that is specifically designed for use with jewelry such as Blitz brand jewelry cleaner. Because of the treatment involved in creating a diffused sapphire it is especially important to avoid anything that can scratch the stone as that can lead to wearing of the diffusion if the stone is only surface-treated.

If you are looking for natural sapphires at a more economical rate, diffused sapphire may be a great option to consider for your next jewelry purchase. When properly cared for, the gemstones remain beautiful for years to come.

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