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Q: Sapphire mining ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Sapphire mining
Category: Business and Money > Economics
Asked by: chrishaugen-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 11 May 2004 14:38 PDT
Expires: 10 Jun 2004 14:38 PDT
Question ID: 344819
I am in the market for an engagement ring.  I am looking for a
gemstone that is socially and environmentally responsible.  For
example, I would purchase a diamond ring, but the De Beers cartel has
a horrible human rights record and manipulates market prices that
even buying from a different supplier indirectly supports them.

We are thinking about buying a blue sapphire ring.  Are sapphires
controlled by a cartel?  Are they mined in an environmentally
responsible way?

Subject: Re: Sapphire mining
Answered By: digsalot-ga on 11 May 2004 16:17 PDT
Hello there

If you would still like a 'responsible' diamond, you should read this
answer to a previous question.  You may find much there which will be
of help. -

As for sapphires, they are mined in many parts of the world including
the US and Australia.  Sapphires are found in India, Burma, Ceylon,
Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Brazil and Africa.   Unfortunately, the
highest quality stones are from regions such as Burma and the Cashmere
region on the India Pakistan border both of which may have political
baggage you are trying to avoid.  The most valuable sapphires are real
Cashmere (Kashmir) stones.

The oldest Sapphire mines are situated in Sri Lanka, where these
gemstones were mined in ancient times.  Once again though, there is
political unrest and gem mining may fund some parts of it.

However if you want a high quality stone that does not have to be
"museum quality," most blue sapphires come from Thailand or Australia.

From Madagascar come not only blue sapphires but some magnificent
pinks and yellows.  And from Tanzania, blue, yellow and orange. 
Brazil exports blue, purple and pink stones.

These are all politically stable areas and you should be able to find
a good selection of stones from any of them.

While there does not seem to be a worldwide sapphire cartel, there are
still problems including bribery, political machinations, stone
quality questions and more.  You may want to read through the sapphire
sections of this website dedicated to colored stones.  Top quality
sapphires command a higher price than diamonds. - "Gemstone
Forecaster Vol. 14, No. 2, Part Two"

As with any commodity where there is such a concentration of wealth in
such a small, easily transported object, the creation of ethical
concerns is nearly universal.  Due to public scrutiny, it may now be
easier to find a "clean" diamond than it is to find a "clean" colored

My first suggestion when you approach a jeweler is to ask about the
provenence of the stone.  If it can be established with little
reasonable doubt that the stone is from a politically stable area such
as Australia or Thailand, Brazil, etc, you chances of buying a "clean"
stone will be enhanced.

As for the environmental issues in the mining of sapphires, some
regions may have environmentally sound techniques, some not.  Once
again, those stones from the more politically stable and advanced
regions would probably have a better environmental record than those
not.  Trying to chase down the environmental track record for all the
world's sapphire mines in a forum such as this would likely wind up
being a book.

Once again, I recommend you read my answer to the previous question
regarding clean diamonds, which this answer opens with, and you may
want to stick with tradition and purchase a diamond.  Canadian
diamonds are among the best found and are also among the most
environmentally conscious and ethically clean gemstones to be found
anywhere in the world.

While the De Beers cartel has an almost universal power when it comes
to setting prices, even in Canada, that does not necessarily mean the
mines or the stones produced are actually the product of a De Beers

Search - google
Terms - sapphire mining, sapphire mines, sapphire cartels, sapphire
politics, sapphire world trade

Websites used to compose the above include:  - Gemstone
Forecaster Vol. 14, No. 2, Part Two - An earlier GA answer. - A USGS site
covering mineral mining in general with some info about sapphire
mining inthe US. - "The
Great Inland Way Emu Family - Sapphire Gemfields Branch - A little
light reading about sapphire mines in Australia. - "Australian
Sapphire-Every Color of the Rainbow" - "Kashmir Sapphire
Mines" - history and a great photo of a Kashmir stone

If I may clarify anything, please ask.


P.S. My engagement ring to my late wife was an opal.  A wonderous
black opal with beautiful blue pinfire she found herself in Idaho.  I
had it cut and mounted for her.
Subject: Re: Sapphire mining
From: jci-ga on 06 Mar 2005 05:19 PST
When you buy a sapphire, it is important to know that the costliest
are those that are not heat treated, but rather have been mined at the
height of perfection, when the color is at its peak. Sapphires which
need heat treatment are less "ripe" than the rare ones that are a
perfect deep blue color straight from the earth. To appreciate the
quality of a non-treated sapphire, go to my blog Genuine Gems For
Pearl Girls

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