Friday, August 27, 2010

Sapphire: Under the Microscope

I recently inherited my late grandfather's microscope and reacquainted myself with the wonderful world of gemstone inclusions. Of particular interest in the first week was the nature of sapphire inclusions. 95% of the world's sapphire supply has been heated and the process often leaves behind very distinctive features within the stone. Have a look sometime if the jewelry store you frequent has a microscope on the counter.

Why heat?

Why settle for this

when you can have this?

Discoid Fractures

Sapphires often have other minerals within them. After heating, these little crystals look a little melted and often display a tension halo. This feature is also called a discoid fracture. They're pretty easy to spot under 10-30x magnification.

Rutile Silk

Before heating, you might see shiny needles of rutile silk within the stone.

The heating process dissolves the needles which can improve clarity. This is an example of "broken silk":

In some cases, the process releases the titanium into the crystal which will intensify the blue color.

Sapphires from our talented artists:

The SATeam blog features artisan handmade creations by the etsy starving artists jewelry team. SATeam members create handcrafted jewelry and beads. More information about our team and its current etsy shop owner members can be found at



mcstoneworks said...

Great information on such a beautiful gemstone. Love Cat's necklace.

Distinction Jewelry said...

Nice article! Oh, and thank you very much for including my earrings :)

galadryl said...

I enjoyed that, very interesting. Thank you very much.

Cat said...

Very interesting post, I liked the comparing sapphire pictures in particular.
Thanks! Also for including my pendant :-)

BeadSire said...

I love learning more about the properties of a gems stone and your writings about sapphires was fascinating. Great pics and fabulous jewellery!

tjrjewellery said...

Very educational! You provided some good examples to back up the text.

MeredithHiltDesigns said...

Sapphires are one of my favorites. Thank you for the interesting information. I have to admit that I'd not known any of that!

Linda said...

Great article. I love knowing how the process of things work, and thanks for giving us a peek through the microscope.

Bonnie said...

Thank you for an interesting read. Very informative.

Stacie @ said...

Awesome! The rock loving nerd in me totally loves this post. Kudos to you & thank you. ;-)