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Legendary Gemstones

Legendary Gemstones

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Published by chrissypbshow

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: chrissypbshow on Nov 17, 2010
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01/22/2014

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LEGENDARY GEMSTONES...RUBIES AND SAPPHIRES
BY M.S. RAU ANTIQUES
For thousands of years, rubies and sapphires have been revered for their beauty and perceived mystical powers. It was thought that rubies heldthe key to serenity and peace and could secure eternal love andhappiness. The ancient Persians believed that the earth itself rested upona great sapphire whose reflection caused the sky to be blue. Rubies andsapphires continue to captivate with their unparalleled beauty, andquality stones have become excellent investments.Judging by their distinct color, it may be hard to believe that rubies andsapphires are actually the same stone, identical in all characteristicsexcept color. Both are corundum and each derives their rich color fromtiny amounts of different chemical impurities. These amazing corundumminerals are second only to diamonds in hardness, and in many cases,are a much better value.
Exotic Origins...Rich History
 Burma, Ceylon and Kashmir are the legendary names most associatedwith the world's finest sapphires and rubies, and their history is rich withintrigue. Burma was a bountiful source of both rubies and sapphires for 
 
more than 800 years, though the best stones were never allowed to leavethe kingdom. Until the middle of the 19th century, the Burmese Kingcommanded that any and all rubies weighing more than five caratswould become possession of the Royal Family. Miners, anxious to sell their gems, broke the magnificent rubies into pieces smaller than five carats soas to bypass the King's law. Thus, rubies weighing over five carats areexceptionally rare and precious. In 1962, the borders of Burma wereclosed and political unrest has all but shut down the mining of thesemagnificent stones.Kashmir, which lies in the Himalayas, is renowned for its rich, cornflower-blue sapphires. The stones were discovered by accident in 1881 when alandslide unearthed a rich cache of sapphire crystals. The pure deepcolor and velvety appearance of the stones so enamored theMaharajah, he soon took control of the mines and halted trade of allsapphires. By 1887, the initial mine was exhausted and other mines in thearea proved so difficult to reach and the climate so unpredictable andhazardous, that only a precious few stones were ever mined.Although origin is important, it should not be the determining factor whenchoosing a stone. Rubies and sapphires hailing form various locationsexhibit many different characteristics and each variety has a strongfollowing of admirers. In fact, the Gemological Institute of America doesnot rate corundum in quality because there is no universal agreement asto which origin or color is best. Rarity, cleanliness and beauty will alwaysdetermine the relative value of a stone.
Rarity, Size, Color, Clarity... Selecting a Stone
 Choosing a ruby or sapphire is, in part, a matter of taste, but there areseveral factors that will affect the value and desirability of a stone. As arule, both rubies and sapphires are at their best when surrounded or paired with quality white diamonds whose fire and white brilliance providethe perfect contrast to the rich colors of the corundum.Prices will vary greatly depending on the size, clarity, origin and relativerarity of the stone. Fine rubies are second in value only to fancy coloreddiamonds, and their value grows exponentially as their carat weightincreases. Indeed, rubies weighing more than 5 carats are extraordinarilyrare, and can cost as much as nine times more per carat than a 3- or 4-carat stone.
 
Larger, quality sapphires, though rare, are slightly more plentiful than their ruby counterparts. Look for stones that are cut with a large table, or topsurface, which makes the stone appear larger. A 5-carat ruby, cut with alarge table, can have the appearance of a 7-carat stone at a fraction ofthe cost per carat. Remember the price per carat increases exponentiallyas the stone's size increases. Look for clean stones with few inclusions.Flawless rubies or sapphires do not exist, though many have theappearance of being so. Clean rubies, in particular, are extremely rareand are the most desirable, and thus the most valuable of the corundums.Chosing a stone based on color is a highly personal matter. While Kashmir sapphires are heralded as the world's finest and exhibit a rich, velvetycornflower hue, many collectors prefer the luminous, lighter blue of theCeylon sapphire. Experts have argued for centuries over which variationof ruby is truly the best and to no avail, though the deep red hue knownas "pigeon blood" is highly desirable. If the stone's color is rich and even,the perfect hue and intensity of color depends on one's personal taste.
A Limited Supply... A Great Demand
 Sapphires and rubies are among the most sought after gemstones in theworld, yet the mines that have provided them for thousands of years havealmost been exhausted. Political strife, over-mining and simply the limitedsupply available from mother nature, have made high quality, stonesexceptionally rare. There are working mines today producing qualityrubies and sapphires, but these are more the exception than the rule.Laboratory-created stones, however, do flourish on the market andcollectors must be very careful as these seemingly perfect stones can bevery deceiving.The best stones are those which were found during the heyday of thelegendary mines of the East during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.These magnificent "second hand" stones are most often found throughantique dealers or experienced jewelers specializing in investment-qualitygems.For the investor, sapphires and rubies make excellent long-terminvestments. Unlike white diamonds, there are no stock piles of rubies andsapphires and there have been no new substantial discoveries indecades. The value of these wonderful stones continues to rise at asteady pace.

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