How to purchase good quality loose blue sapphires
Natural sapphires come in a wide variety of shades, primarily different shades of blue. The sapphire stone is said to indicate loyalty and is the second hardest stone, following diamonds. Sapphires are comprised of aluminum oxide, iron and chrome, which give the stone its colouring.
While sapphires can be purchased as earrings, necklaces and rings at most jewellery stores, it is possible to buy good quality, loose sapphires as well.
Determine the size of the individual loose blue sapphires that you are interested in. They are readily available in sizes up to 1 carat weight, with larger stones costing more due to greater scarcity. Watch for the words "specimen grade," as these sapphires are low quality and have little to no value.
Inquire whether or not the sapphire is treated or untreated. An untreated sapphire has only been faceted (cut) and has not been chemically treated. These sapphires will have higher quality and value than treated sapphires, but they are less commonly available.
Find out about the country of origin. High quality sapphires are commonly imported from Sri Lanka, Madagascar and Myanmar (Burma). While origin alone cannot determine the quality of a blue sapphire, it can provide a good indication that the stone is of value.
Visit a jewellery importer to inspect loose sapphires in person, if possible. Find local jewellery importers by searching online and in local trade magazines. Contact the importers by phone to ask whether they sell individual blue sapphires and to set up an appointment to examine and purchase loose stones. During the appointment, examine sapphires for uniform colour, clarity and reflection of light. These are all important factors when finding a good quality sapphire. Ensure the seller has a refund, exchange or satisfaction guarantee before purchasing loose stones.
Look at online retailers who sell individual sapphire stones. A few websites include Alpha Imports.com, AJ's Imports.com and eBay.com. Before buying, carefully check to make sure the seller offers certification on the stones and has a solid return and/or exchange policy. Request several photos of the loose stones from several angles, including close-up images.