Caring for Sapphire

Caring for Sapphire

Few sapphires that enter the gemstone trade are untreated. Many are glass filled or heat-treated to manipulate color, hide inclusions, and strengthen lesser-quality stones. There is nothing wrong with buying a treated stone. Treated stones are affordable and are beautiful, but they do require a little more care. Once you know how it's easy.

Never use ultrasonic cleaners, harsh chemicals, or steam to clean sapphire. Clean with warm water, a mild dish soap, not detergent, and a soft toothbrush. You may wonder why I say a mild dish soap and not a detergent, the difference is in the pH, presence of bleach, or the types of surfactants in detergent. Use a fine-mesh plastic colander, or a glass of water outside of the sink, when rinsing so you don’t drop your jewelry down the drain during washing or rinsing. Pat dry with a soft cotton cloth.

Jewelry should be placed in a protective jewelry pouch, the box it came in, or wrapped in a soft cotton cloth to protect it from scratches when not worn. This also protects softer stones and precious metal from being scratched by the harder sapphire stone. Jewelry boxes that feature individually padded spaces are also a good option for jewelry that is slow to tarnish or do not tarnish: gold, platinum, Argentium silver, ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, silver, osmium, iridium, titanium, and steel.

Most people are familiar with blue sapphires, but few are aware sapphires can be colorless and come in all different colors, except red, those are rubies. Outside of the US pink sapphires my be classified as pink rubies. White sapphires are called leucosapphire and are actually transparent and colorless. Sapphires can even have more than one color. Since leucosapphire is colorless, you would think it would look like a diamond, but that is not the case. They don’t have the same sparkle and brilliance as diamonds because diamonds refract more light. Sapphire and Ruby belong to the corundum gemstone family.

Durability and Stability

After diamonds, sapphires and rubies are the hardest gemstones. If you want a colorful stone and are looking for something that is more durable than most colorful gemstones a sapphire is an excellent choice for a ring. They rate 9 on the Moth’s hardness scale. However, if your sapphire is teated it still needs some extra care to keep it looking it's best. Even the most durable gemstones should be treated with respect, a diamond can break if it is hit at an angle of weakness.

A star sapphire is one that contains rutile. The star effect is called asterism and is caused by rutile, a mineral composed of mostly titanium dioxide, and has the highest refractive index or any mineral known, 2.417 to 2.419. Natural rutile is very rarely found in gemstones. Only about 3 out of every 100 corundum stones that gem grade has rutile and only one will have both good color and a good star. Fine stars are very rare.


Sapphires of high quality are quite rare. The most common gem-grade corundum is blue. Padparadscha Sapphires are one of the rarest hues. The word Padparadscha is Singhalese and means water lily lotus blossom, it has an unusual color that is a blend of both pink and orange. Color Change Sapphires are a rare variety of corundum that have the ability to produce different colors to the human eye under different types of lighting.


Sellers are required to disclose gemstone treatments, but many do not. And many jewelers don’t know the history of the stones they purchase. If this is an expensive purchase make sure the stone is certified. This will tell you what you need to know about treatments made to the stone. 

I highly recommend anyone purchasing high-end jewelry to contact your home insurance broker and have it added to your policy.


  1. Ruby:

  2. “Argentium sterling silver,” Wikipedia:

  3. “Sapphire Quality Factors,” GIA:

  4. “How Rare Is That Gem?” International Gem Society:

  5. “Tips on Caring for Jewelry,” GIA:

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