Australian Blue Sapphires.
by Gary Hocking
Sapphires are found in five Australian states but predominantly in NSW and Queensland. Sapphires and rubies are essentially the same thing. They are both varieties of the mineral conundrum which is an aluminium oxide. When sapphires are red then they are called rubies. So rubies are only red and sapphires are never red.
Most sapphires are blue because of the presence of titanium and iron. Blue sapphires are mostly found in the New England region of NSW in Australia.
Good quality blue sapphire is cut into facets which enhances the stone. Poor quality sapphire not suitable as gems is often carved into ornaments and other items. For instance, there is a series of portraits of four US presidents which have been carved from Australian blue sapphire.
Blue sapphires like most gemstones often heat treated in order to enhance the colour.
Thailand has traditionally been a rich source of blue sapphire and Australian sapphire has been exported to Thailand as rough stone and cut and polished in Thailand. As the Thai deposits decreased the Australian deposits became more plentiful and consequently Australian blue sapphire was cut and polished in Thailand and then sold as a product of Thailand. The undesired result of this is that the lower quality blue sapphires have been attributed as coming from Australia and the Thais have claimed the best quality as coming from their own country and so the Australian sapphire has been misrepresented. Australia has got a reputation for producing very dark and almost black sapphire.
Sapphire is a much loved gemstone and as it is very hard, second only to diamond, it is perfect for making all kinds of jewelry. Many people prefer it to diamond for their engagement ring. It is different, more colourful and is durable enough to be worn all day every day for life. It will rarely cleave or break apart.