There are many sapphire varieties available, sourced from various countries worldwide. Sapphires are almost always synonymous with their origins, having distinctive coloration and characteristics that set them apart. These characteristics of sapphires make them prized and popular, perfect for those who love to indulge in these precious colored gemstones.
This blog post will cover the following topics:
- A Brief History of Montana Sapphires
- Origins and Mining
- Colors and Varieties
- Types of Montana Sapphire Jewelry
- Key Takeaways
A Brief History of Montana Sapphires
As the name implies, these stunning sapphires originate from Montana. But did you know Montana produces nearly all of the sapphire for the United States? They have been mined for over 150 years in Montana, making Montana a popular destination for gorgeous sapphires/gem-quality corundum.
Sapphires were first discovered in Montana in the Missouri River circa 1865, during the Gold Rush era, but weren't considered valuable or rare because of their small or unimpressive appearance. As gem-cutting technology and equipment became more widely available, Montana sapphires gained recognition for their show-stopping beauty and larger size specimens–some have been found in the 10s to 100s of carats!
Meanwhile, Rock Creek and Dry Cottonwood Creek offered pale to light-colored sapphires that are rough with good clarity. Did you know colorless sapphires are popular? Colorless sapphires are a natural diamond simulant or alternative for engagement rings or other fine jewelry creations. Although colorless "white" sapphires have a lower brilliance than diamonds with a cloudy appearance, they are still stunning in their own right.
Later, these colorless sapphires were enhanced with improved heat treatment technology to display vibrant color and richer saturations. Heat treatments bring forth the natural beauty of the stone touched by modern technology. Heat treatment can also remove unwanted color.
Origins and Mining
Montana produces high-quality sapphires sourced from four primary areas. These include the Rock Creek area, the Missouri River, the Yogo Gulch, and the Dry Cottonwood Creek.
The famous Yogo Gulch area produces high-quality blue sapphires. These specimens are found and sourced from igneous rock rather than sifting through sediments with long, hard labor. Yogo Gulch is currently an inactive mine, making specimens from this area very rare and expensive–more sapphires are waiting to be discovered in this mine as it is not yet considered depleted.
Ethics and Concerns
Montana offers ethical mining practices, making these sapphires conflict-free. Feel good knowing you are getting something precious and sourced through higher standards following certain codes of conduct for the earth and laborers.
Colors and Varieties
Montana sapphires offer a wealth of color, quality, and personality:
Sapphires are synonymous with the color blue, with Montana sapphires being no exception. Montana sapphires exhibit a cornflower blue, displaying an excellent saturated velvety shade overall. These blue sapphires are called Yogo sapphires.
Montana sapphires may change color, showcasing different colors in various lighting situations, such as incandescent light/candlelight and daylight. The sapphire may appear blue in daylight and purple in incandescent light or pale shades like sky blue to light lavender.
A Rainbow of Luxury
Montana sapphires are available in almost every color of the rainbow, including purple, which accounts for about 2% of what is sourced. Montana sapphires also come in other blue shades, such as teal, blue-green, green, and yellow.
Chatoyancy & Asterism
Montana sapphires may exhibit the characteristics of chatoyancy or asterism, such as star sapphires featuring the reflection of light on inclusions lying parallel inside the stone. These stones are faceted or cabochon cut, displaying the shimmering star of these special sapphires.
Durability & Identification
All sapphires are varieties of the mineral family corundum. Ruby is the red variety of corundum, making it a relative stone to sapphire. Ruby and pink sapphire are differentiated by the tone and saturation of the corundum. Some pink sapphires may be marketed as rubies when they aren't, hoping to command a higher price tag.
The Mohs scale helps identify minerals and their "scratch resistance" tendencies compared to other less or more durable objects, ranking them on a scale from 1 to 10. Corundum rates 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, after diamond which is a 10, and moissanite, which is 9.25. This makes sapphires and rubies incredibly hard. However, sapphire and rubies can chip, break, crack, abrade, or scratch if not treated properly or put under duress. Care and maintenance are always required with all jewelry and stones.
Types of Montana Sapphire Jewelry
Montana sapphires are available in engagement rings, wedding rings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, and other alternative jewelry selections. These sapphires are set into fine metals (yellow, white, rose gold, and platinum). Sparkling diamond sides may highlight the sapphire and mounting, adding luxury and prestige to any design.
You can feel good knowing you purchased a Montana sapphire. They are sustainable and ethically sourced from known origins. They remove the anxiety and stress accompanying a strenuous supply chain and workforce eroding the earth and polluting the environment often incurred with mining gemstones or diamonds.
Montana sapphires have been mined for over 150 years in various areas known for incredible specimens. This makes Montana a popular destination for mining sapphires showcasing incredible shades of blue, green, purple, yellow, colorless, a color-change phenomenon, and asterism varieties of gem-quality corundum.
Montana is the USA's leading source of sapphires, which keeps these gemstones in demand. Montana sapphires are set into fine jewelry designs with a higher price tag–sapphires are precious stones.
Not only are Montana sapphires alluring, but they are also durable and scratch-resistant, making them a practical selection for your next jewelry purchase.
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