Kate Middleton sports an engagement ring of natural sapphires surrounded by diamonds. The ring had belonged to princess Diana and was given to Prince Harry after his mother’s death. Harry gave it to William as a gift, reputedly believing it should be worn by the future queen of England.
The stone in the royal ring, worth about $500,000, is a natural sapphire. Natural sapphires are rarer than diamonds but less in demand, therefore less valuable. Natural sapphires have flaws called occlusions that occur when gases and minerals in molten rock are trapped within the stone during formation. Synthetic sapphires can be built as specific colors and are flawless. Gemologists can tell the difference between a natural or lab-produced sapphire due to variations that occur in natural stones.
Most consumers prefer the traditional deep blue sapphire, and, for this reason, most synthetic stones do not vary much in color. Lab-created stones can be flawless but are usually less expensive then natural gemstones.
Natural sapphires can be blue, violet, purple, pink, orange or yellow. Some sapphire sources have greater prestige than others, and origin has been known to influence price regardless of quality. For example, blue sapphires from Burma are the most sought after by collectors.
The Natural Sapphire Company uses only natural sapphires. Established in 1939, they specialize in fine, untreated natural stones that are mined in a non-exploitative manner. The company supports the community and environment where the gems are mined.
Sapphires are among the most sought after stones for nontraditional engagement rings and there are a variety of options and settings available to individuals looking for a statement piece they can cherish a whole lifetime.