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How to Identify Neelam (Blue Sapphire)?

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harry_sandha
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How to Identify Neelam (Blue Sapphire)?

How to identify blue sapphire whether it is real or not ?

Himanshu
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In market both natural and synthetic blue sapphires are available. Separation of natural blue sapphire from synthetic by naked eye is nearly impossible, even gemologist fail at certain level to separate them visually. The natural sapphires that we get in market are mostly treated (heat & diffusion). It is again difficult to identify these treatments with naked eyes.

First, never ever separate a blue sapphire from other blue gemstones only on the basis of shade, since blue sapphire comes in all shades of blue.

There are basically 5 gemstones that appear (replicate) as blue sapphire. These are Synthetic Cubic Zirconia (a.k.a. C.Z, American Diamond), Iolite, Tanzanite, Benitoite and Man-made blue glass.

Separation of Blue Sapphire from:

  1. Blue Synthetic Cubic Zirconia (C.Z.): Blue C.Z. is the most common substitute for Blue Sapphire. An experienced gemmologist or trader can easily separate Blue C.Z. from Blue Sapphire even by weighing these stones on hand; because if we take same volume of Blue Sapphire and Blue C.Z. then Blue C.Z. will be heavier as its specific gravity is more. Also, C.Z are often eye clean but sometimes have zirconium oxide “powder droplets” which can appear as rows of dots.
  2. Iolite: If Iolite is rotated from different direction it will show a shade of yellow which doesn't appear in blue sapphire. So if your blue sapphire doesn't show yellow shade then you can be certain that it is at least not Iolite. Note: Sometimes iron staining in blue sapphire can be the cause for yellow shade. So this is not conclusive evidence.
  3. Benitoite: Benitoite is a rare gemstone and it is less likely that you will encounter it. However, you can separate Benitoite with "doubling test". When you look through facets of Benitoite towards culet, culet will appear as two. Even inclusions inside Benitoite will sometimes appear as two. This is a confirmatory test as there is only one natural blue stone with doubling effect.
  4. Tanzanite: Tanzanite shows three shades of blue when looked through dichroscope whereas blue sapphire will show only two shades of blue. You can also separate it with instrument called refractometer. Eye separation of tanzanite from blue sapphire is difficult. It requires certain instruments to get it separated.
  5. Man-made Blue Glass: Glass is a good simulant for all gemstones. All man-made glass has "gas bubble" inclusions which appears as round or oval or elongated. New people might find it difficult to identify & separate "gas bubbles" from "crystal fingerprints" but with few practice one can easily separate between "gas bubbles" and "crystal fingerprints".

Blue sapphire (variety of corundum) is generally heavier than all these stones (Iolite, Tanzanite, Benitoite & Man-made Blue glass) except Synthetic Cubic Zirconia (C.Z.). That is, if the same volume of these gemstones are weighted blue sapphire will weight heavier.

Refractometer is an instrument which checks the R.I. (refractive index) of gemstones. It is a "life saver" for many people involved in gemstone trade. One can separate more than 50% of the gemstone solely on the basis of this small instrument. I personally suggest everyone involved in this field to buy this instrument.

A word of caution: If you are even 1% unsure whether your gemstone is genuine or not then it is highly recommended that you get it certified from a reputable/trusted gemological lab.

Updated On: December 14, 2012: Added Synthetic Cubic Zirconia as a substitute for Blue Sapphire and made minor correction to the post.

harry_sandha
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Thanks for valuable information.

harry_sandha
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Hi..

I am sending you a ebay web link of the gem which I bought from a seller and could you please tell me by judging from pictures whether it is real or fake gem.

Thanks

UPDATE: Link has been removed as ebay has removed the listing page.

Himanshu
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The gemstone shown in the above link should be blue sapphire.

Since this gemstone is very clean it is not possible to make out whether it is natural or synthetic under the basis of picture.

Sapphires (mostly yellow and blue) which comes from Bangkok (Thailand) are mostly heat treated. Even "natural colorless sapphire" are converted to "natural blue sapphire" with heat treatment.

harry_sandha
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Thanks....you mean to say that it could be synthetic ?

Himanshu
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Generally, heat treatments are done in "natural gemstone" but heat treated "synthetic gemstone" are also available in market. Since your blue sapphire is said to be heat treated so it should not be synthetic but this should not be taken as confirmatory. Only a gemological lab or expert in gemological field can ascertain whether your stone is natural or synthetic after instrument testings.

"Rule of Thumb" - If a gemstone is very clean and price is very low then chances are that the stone is synthetic / fake.

adiamore07
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To identify the original sapphire easiest way is to verify through Magnifying glass. If it is original the inner structure of sapphire is little messy but the synthetic sapphire looks very straight and ordered.

Similarly the easiest way to identify the synthetic Loose Diamonds is same but we cant relay only on magnifying glass.

Akumar
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I have purchased this stone and the vendor has given me the certificate also they have given in writing through official email that this stone belongs to Ceylon. I have tested through a local lab and they have even mentioned that it is a natural one.

But when I see it in light i do not find any inclusion. When spoken to the dealer they mentioned that they cut in such a way that the inclusion part is in the corner any due to cutting the small inclusions get hidden in the shadow. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks.

Himanshu
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@Akumar,

Not all natural blue sapphire will show you inclusions. A lapidary cuts a stone in such a way that inclusions are hidden near girdle and culet making top facets part clean and clear.

If your gemmological lab says it is a natural gemstone then it can be but it is very diffcult for even gemmological lab to verify the origin of gemstone.

ADK
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I inherited an oval blue sapphire from my grandmother who received as a gift from grandfather sometime between 1935 and 1954. It's a rich blue color, about 2+carats with six small diamonds flanking (3 each side), set in 14k white gold. From what I know, grandfather was a jeweler for some time during that period in Philadelphia, located in Jewlers row.

I don't know if it is a natural stone and my question is, were lab created stones prevalent back then? The stone is very brilliant blue and seems to be very well cut. Any insight would be appreciated. 

Himanshu
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@ADK,

The first lab created gemstone was made during 1890's using a flame fusion process. Initially it was only used to make ruby and all color of sapphires but later it was used to create many other gemstones.

Though, there were significanly very few lab created gemstones available in open market at the time of 1940's but I would suggest you to get your gemstone lab tested.

jwisan
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Hello, I am looking at this Ceylon Blue Sapphire Ring and would like your opinion on the price. I believe the website provides appraisal service as well. The sapphire is eye clean and about 2 ct.

Thank you!!!

UPDATE: External link has been removed as it is not working anymore.

Himanshu
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@jwisan,

In ZeeXchange website it is written Gemstone as Natural/Enhanced this means that gemstone is Natural but it is treated (enhanced). The treatment is not mentioned there but most likely it is either heat treated or diffusion treatment. These kind of treatment can even turn white sapphire into blue sapphire, so paying $3,200 for a treated 2 carat stone is not worthy.

And, if someone is selling Ceylon Sapphire from Thailand then it is most likely heat of diffusion treated. Ceylon blue sapphires are actually mined in SriLanka so when you are purchasing Ceylon sapphire it should be untreated and its origin should be Ceylon, SriLanka, otherwise there is no use in buying a Ceylon blue sapphire.

I would suggest you to go to ebay.com to search for your blue sapphire and please avoid sellers from Thaliand (Bangkok).

I don't know how trust worthy these ebay-sellers are but their blue sapphire looks pretty good for the price & quality:

Push
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Thanks a ton for answering so many people . . . .

I am one of them :) and have recently brought a blue sapphire which cost me Rs. 3,200 ($60) I too see color zoning in it. Please let me know if the original Neelam (blue sapphire) would cost so less.

Regards,
Push

Himanshu
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@Push,

You haven't mentioned the carat & clarity of your blue saphire. But however, natural blue sapphire can come as low as Rs. 100 ($2) per carat but their quality would not be appropriate for wearing on a ring.

So, don't worry about the price if you can afford it, worry about whether it is natural and untreated or not because the open market of sapphire is very complex as their are many treated, duplicate and fake stones in the market and many traders fail to identify themselves.

Sunil G
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Hi, This is very useful Information. In India everyday thousands of stones are sold but there is no regulatory board which checks the quality. We just have to "TRUST" the jeweller.

Thanks Once Again....

 

Azznaz
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Hi!

I was wondering if you able to help me out on this one. What to do you think of this stone? Thanks!

Yours Kindly,

A.

  • which-gemstone-is-this.jpg
Himanshu
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@Azznaz,

Looks like blue sapphire but cannot confirm unless instrument tests are performed.

Tariq Umar
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Dears,

I have a light blue sapphire given to me by my mother. She brought this one while migrating from India (64 years back). The size is around 8mm dia x 5~6mm pyramid height. Can anyone tell me how to identify if its' a real one and of how many carats would it be. Have no idea whatsoever about in originality, though I am 80% sure that its' original (Must be atleast 70 years old). I am asking it on the forum as I do not trust the so called gem-specialists sitting in the market. SGS is the only company which is supposed to varify its originality but still I am not sure if they have this facility and expertise in this part of the world. If its' original what would be its cost (experts on this forum may give me some idea) and above all its safe.

Looking forward to gentlemens' and ladies expert opinion. I will proceed for SGS certification after your comments or send it overseas for certification. Can anyone help me.

Tariq  

Abdul
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I wish to buy an original true blue sapphire of around 3 - 3.5 carat for astrological purpose...but I am afraid that I may not be able to judge a true and a fake treated one... Most of the stones here are from Ceylone, Sri Lanka. Can you please guide me somewhere from where I can purchase a true original one. I am living in Dubai. The following website of a seller in Dubai claims that he has some certified gemstones by International Gemological Institute, I am not sure if you have an idea about it and its authenticity? Kindly visit www.ceylonmastergems.com and then to certified gemstones to see them. I would be grateful if you would give me a rough idea of how much it should cost? Thanx

Himanshu
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@Abdul,

I went through the website which you have suggested and I think it is authentic. However, I would also suggest you to look for your gemstone at ebay.com

Satish Rawat
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Dear sir,

In local method it is said that if we put an original neelam into cow's pure milk the colour of milk becomes blue. How true this is? 

Himanshu
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@Satish Rawat,

This saying is very untrue and rubbish. I can confirm this as I am gemologist. :)

However, if you put cow's pure milk on blue sapphire (neelam) and if it turns blue then consider your stone being dyed (treated). So, please don't bother about these old sayings which we frequently encounter in India. What one should do is, to get their gemstone certified from a trusted gemological lab.

Muhammad Sajid
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Thanks alot for your help. This is definately very useful info. Thanks again. May All Beings Be Happy you.

vivek16professional
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Hi roxeen!

Firstly, thank you for providing very analysed information and suggestions.

I live in Delhi, India. I want to buy blue sapphire for astrology purpose (natural, unheated). I prefer 4.35 carat. My first choice is Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Kashmiri Blue Sapphire. Please let me know from where can I buy them?

On ebay.in, I found many blue sapphire rings at economical price (below $50). Is there any catch on this?

Please help me buy a genuine blue sapphire. My budget is around INR 30,000 for 4.35 carat.

I will be very grateful to you.

Regards,

Vivek

Himanshu
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@Vivek,

Generally untreated Ceylon Blue Sapphire is quite expensive. For 4.35 carat it would cost around $3k - $5k. Please note that it is difficult to identify origin of gemstone even by using gemmological instruments. So, even if someone is selling you a gemstone (blue sapphire) saying it is from Ceylon (Sri Lanka); it might not be actually from Ceylon and no one will be able to identify its origin.

Since, your budget is okay for a blue sapphire, I would suggest you to go for blue sapphire of any origin as long as it is untreated and natural. But please get it verified from gemmological lab.

I would also suggest you that, if you are buying from local gemstone shop then ask the shopkeeper to first get it verified before making the payment and always check the certificate thoroughly if the size, picture mentioned in the certificate matches with the gemstone or not.

Chirya
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Dear Roxeen,

Thanks for the valuable information you have shared with us. I am looking for a blue sapphire these days because somebody has told me that I should wear a blue sapphire which is my birthstone. I find the piece attached here very attractive only I think it is overly priced. But they are the only ones who offer untreated natural blue sapphires on the internet.

http://www.thenaturalsapphirecompany.com/Sapphires/Blue/B4579/Oval/stone...

Do you think this stone is worth its price?

Please do reply.

Himanshu
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@Chirya,

Sorry for delayed reply. The stone has been sold on the website. I was unable to see its price, however seeing other blue sapphire on the website, I can say that the gemstones are OVER priced. If you're looking to wear a blue sapphire for astrological purpose then it should be between 4.5 - 5.5 carat. I would suggest you to buy from ebay.com but just avoid Bangkok (Thailand) gemstones as most of them are heat and diffusion treated. Most importantly, from where ever you buy a gemstone always ask for a certificate from a reputable gemmogical lab.

Chirya
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Thanks for the reply. I am sorry that you can't see the stone online anymore because I bought it. 

I thought they were expansive that's why I asked your advice. But what's done can not be undone. 

The sapphires on eBay do not offer an authenticity certificate but they have sent a certificate validating its natural untempered state.

 

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