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Can sapphires get abraded/scratched easily in a ring?

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FlowerGirl111

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I have a ring, it has alternating small diamonds and sapphires in a channel setting in white gold. I''ve had the ring for 6 years. For at least half the time I''ve owned it the sapphires have looked scratched.. basically when I look at it now, the flat faceted surface on the top of the sapphires are abraded. Not like you can see individual scratches for the most part - just abraded and dull. The diamonds (of course, being harder) look fine and so does the gold.

I showed it to a jeweler recently who said they shouldn''t do that and I should take it back to the store where I bought it. We did, and after some difficulties with them sat down to talk to the manager. (This is national chain). I think basically, they don''t believe me that I didn''t do anything to cause this. They say the wear is highly unusual, especially that the metal looks fine but the sapphires look so worn. I wear the ring daily. I have not had anyone clean the ring. When I clean it, I just use gentle soap, warm water, soft brush, soft cloth. If I''m doing something where I think the ring would get gunky or damaged, I take the ring off or wear gloves. I should mention, my engagement ring, which I''ve had for 17 years and wear daily, has a sapphire on either side of the diamond, and the facets of those are still as smooth as ever. Granted the setting is different, but my point is - if it were something with the way I clean it or some chemical I use (though I don''t use any strong chemicals for housecleaning) the other ring would show even worse wear.

The jewelry store where I bought it has (reluctantly perhaps) said they could send the ring away, have the tops of the sapphires ground and polished. However they feel that this would probably happen to the stones again (apparently I am very hard on them?) and of course are trying to talk me into trading up for something with all diamonds, which would mean spending more money with them. It is a compelling suggestion in that I don''t want to have this keep happening, but this ring was for my 10th wedding anniversary and has sentimental value. Plus, I love sapphires. And for various reasons I''d rather take my business elsewhere, to a local non-chain jeweler.

So my questions are:

1. Does this even make sense that the sapphires would be in this condition? I understand that diamonds are 4x harder than sapphires, but that sapphires are still among the hardest stones out there and should be durable enough to wear everyday in a ring. Am I wrong in this, though? Is this normal wear?

2. Does it make sense to have someone grind and polish the sapphires - I''m concerned that they would not fit properly in the channel. The ring does need some adjustment/work - several of the diamonds are a bit loose, and it probably needs replating. But I am apprehensive about the idea of doing something to the sapphires that would cause them to not fit properly in the channel.

I spoke to a local gemologist (has a graduate degree from the GIA) on the phone, and he thought this sounds odd and the suggestion to grind/polish the sapphires to be concerning. I am going to have him take a look at the ring sometime this week.

So I''m looking for any insight, and suggestions about what to do from here.

Thanks!
 

chrono

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1. Does this even make sense that the sapphires would be in this condition? I understand that diamonds are 4x harder than sapphires, but that sapphires are still among the hardest stones out there and should be durable enough to wear everyday in a ring. Am I wrong in this, though? Is this normal wear?
It could be normal wear and tear because sapphires aren''t as tough as diamonds. However, it is difficult to say with any certainty as you did not post any pictures. A picture will help greatly in seeing this "damage".
2. Does it make sense to have someone grind and polish the sapphires - I''m concerned that they would not fit properly in the channel. The ring does need some adjustment/work - several of the diamonds are a bit loose, and it probably needs replating. But I am apprehensive about the idea of doing something to the sapphires that would cause them to not fit properly in the channel.
My guess is that the stones are rather small, and depending on how bad they are, you really won''t lose a lot of size. Still, they are channel set so it is a concern. I''m glad you are bringing the ring to a GG to have him look at it. As mentioned earlier, it''s difficult to guess without seeing the ring and stones in person or in a picture. You are doing the right thing in having an expert look at it first.
 

FlowerGirl111

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Thanks for the input! Here is a picture - perhaps not the greatest, but you can see how the facets look dull/cloudy.

sapphirering4.jpg
 

FrekeChild

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Yikes! That looks like nothing I''ve ever seen before. Would it be a possibility to get a local jeweler to put in new stones or are you against that idea?
 

m76steve

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of the best stones for a ring because of the hardness of the material-they should be repaired easily if scratched or marred-the fact u have them in a ring puts them at odds because they can contact any surface your hand hits-just normal wearing can put some degree of scratching to the surface of the stone-some stones as appatite which are very soft need special care just to handle and are good for pendents or earings because of the softness-4-5 on the scale but look like tuff tourmalines-even diamonds can b scratched but all can b repaired at a slight cost to the stone-my 2 cents-hope this helps a little...
 

FrekeChild

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Does that really look like normal wear and tear to you steve? Because it doesn't to me. And I wore a sapphire ring 24/7 for 5 years, and I abused it--cringe worthy abuse--and it looked nothing like that. What sense I could make of your post, it seemed like it had absolutely nothing to do with the OP's questions in her post instead of just the thread title's question.
 

FlowerGirl111

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I can''t think of anything I''ve done that would have resulted in that kind of wear - but I have mostly worn it daily. I don''t do anything for a job or hobby that would put particular wear on it. If I''m working in the yard/garden either I take it off or I wear gloves. I did stop wearing it for a few months after I noticed this wear, but eventually just started wearing it again. So it''s mostly been worn daily for almost 6 years.

I wouldn''t be opposed to having the stones replaced. The issue is, is this the result of poor quality workmanship, and then should the jeweler who sold it to me be obligated to fix it at no cost to me? Or not. I don''t think I''ll get a satisfactory answer to that, really. The paperwork for the jewelry says a lifetime warranty, but the behavior of the sales person at the store when I showed them the ring indicated to me they will do everything they can to minimize their costs (of course). To the point of implying we were lying that we didn''t have anyone else clean the ring and outright telling me I must not care about the ring because I didn''t bring it in sooner.

So... I don''t know what kind of costs might be involved in replacing the stones, but I''m wondering if that might be the best option here.
 

FrekeChild

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I''m kind of leaning towards just getting the stones replaced. I''ve never seen wear on a sapphire like that before.

Do you mind sharing where you bought the ring?
 

zeolite

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Can sapphires get abraded/scratched easily in a ring?

No. There are 3 materials equal to or harder than a sapphire, that are capable of scratching a sapphire. The mohs scale of hardness is a listing of 10 minerals of increasing hardness. Sapphire is 9, silicon carbide, aka carborundum (gem name moissanite) is a man-made material at 9 1/4, and diamond is 10. The scale is logarithmic, not linear. A diamond is vastly harder than a sapphire (perhaps 100 times or more harder). Moisssanite is so rare, in reality,the only material that could have scratched your ring is a diamond or another sapphire. Sapphires have directional hardness, and a sapphire in the hard orientation could easily scratch another sapphire in the soft direction.

I think basically, they don't believe me that I didn't do anything to cause this. They say the wear is highly unusual, yes, extremely so especially that the metal looks fine but the sapphires look so worn. I wear the ring daily. I have not had anyone clean the ring. When I clean it, I just use gentle soap, warm water, soft brush, soft cloth.


I can't tell from your picture if the the sapphires are scratched, or merely coated with a soapscum film or dirt. You could have a jeweler steam clean the ring, and then polish the sapphires with two common jewelry abrasives: red rouge (iron oxide, mohs hardness 5 1/2) and then tripoli (silica, mohs hardness 7) to cut the dirt/scum from the sapphires.

After the cleaning, the sapphires could be examined with a loupe or microscope for scratches. I just don't believe that your sapphires are scratched.
 

FrekeChild

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zeolite--is there a possibility that these aren''t even sapphires?
 

m76steve

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the gems & the ring pictured are pretty-a nice setting-again, what do you want for 2 cents!-enjoy...
 

m76steve

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my input was a little vague before-as you said the picture is not quite close enough to really see the stones-the blues look a little muddy or not well defined-im going on what i see-the item seems well made and maby need a little cleaning-part of the enjoyment is showing what you have and getting input that will help you enjoy what you have. try some more pics a little closer after a mild cleaning of the ring-my 2 cents...
 

FlowerGirl111

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I would think that if cleaning was the issue, the jeweler would have tried that - better to clean it and show me it''s just soapscum and have a happy customer, than how they dealt with the situation, I would think.

I did clean it myself (as described before) and it didn''t make a difference. Besides, I have another ring with sapphires, that I''ve had for 17 years, and it''s never looked like that.

It''s from Shane Co.

That was the best picture I could get last night. Today I''ll see if we can get a better picture.

Thank you for all the input so far!
 

Pandora II

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I have seen sapphires that are scratched to bits - my sister''s e-ring that she never takes off, my grandmother''s e-ring that she thinks it''s okay to garden in and a couple of sapphire/diamond eternity rings that I own. One is in a terrible condition, but is over 100 years old (I was given it by a friend who knew I liked gemstones) and the other has some dulling to the table of some of the sapphires, but again it is a victorian piece and was my placeholder ring while my e-ring was being made.

So, yes you can scratch up sapphires - I dread to think what my sister does for hers to look the way it does...
 

Stone-cold11

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But, given that this is a channel set ring and the metal on top of the channel are relatively unscared, I have doubts about the sapphires are really sapphires... Just a consumer''s opinion...
 

DiamanteBlu

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Date: 2/15/2009 1:48:32 AM
Author: FrekeChild
zeolite--is there a possibility that these aren't even sapphires?
Interesting point! I can't imagine how those stones could have gotten so scratched by you given the lack of wear on the channel. That assumes they are really sapphires and that they were not like that when you got the ring [Am I correct in assuming that they were not?].

I could imagine how the sapphires could have gotten like that if some neophyte fabricator took a buffing wheel to it with with some polishing compound that contained a hard enough abrasive. If that had been the case, the stones would have looked like that when you got the ring and I'm sure you would have noticed. Or, have you had the metal polished after having purchased the ring?

When did you first notice that they looked "funny"? Are they getting worse?
 

vanessa_b

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I wondered if they could be something other than sapphires too. What kind of stone cold they be that looks like sapphire but would be so easily damaged?
 

DiamanteBlu

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Date: 2/15/2009 11:18:59 AM
Author: vanessa_b
I wondered if they could be something other than sapphires too. What kind of stone cold they be that looks like sapphire but would be so easily damaged?
Blue glass.

But that does not make too much sense to me. Why would somebody put something other than sapphire into such a ring? If they are not natural, I would expect that they would have substituted synthetic which can be gotten for very small money.
 

FlowerGirl111

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The gemologist I spoke to on the phone also mentioned the possibility of them not being sapphires. But.. while I''m not a fan of Shane Co. any more, I have a hard time believing they would sell a sapphire ring that really didn''t contain sapphires. As big of a chain as they are, you''d think if they were doing that, someone would have found that out by now.

Still... the thought crossed my mind as well, before I spoke to the gemologist.

The ring didn''t look like that when I bought it; otherwise I would not have bought it. I don''t recall exactly at what point they started looking like that. I''ve had it for 6 years and I know it''s been that way for a few years at least. (I recall taking a hiatus from wearing it about 3 years ago because of this). And I should have looked into this sooner, but with kids and a job and a busy life, it was always a back burner, "next time I''m at Shane or at a jeweler I''ll ask about it" sort of thing. I think it has gotten worse because I think if it was as bad 3 years ago or so as it is now, I would have felt a greater urgency in figuring out what is going on. I also did not have the ring checked every 6 months like they like you to, so the jewelry store hadn''t had an opportunity to see it before now. Perhaps my lifestyle is not befitting of owning nice jewelry, since I''ve been too busy to have it checked regularly.

Oh, and I''ve never had anyone polish the metal or anything like that.
 

K9

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I''m no rocket scientist, but could they have been treated sapphires - and by treated, I mean HEAVILY treated? I have seen how treatments in a stone will just "melt" away after heat exposure from things like sizing, etc, so maybe this is what''s happening?

Just a thought that popped into my head, but again, I''m not expert. Just tossing it out there as a possibility. ?
 

chrono

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It would be highly unusual to have something other than blue sapphires in that ring but who knows... I certainly cannot ID a stone by a picture. Also, looking at the picture I am unable to make out any details enough to guess if that''s a film of dirt or facet wear. Please share with us the result of the verification by the GG.
 

FlowerGirl111

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If it were simply a film of dirt:

1. Wouldn''t I be able to clean it off?
2. Why do the sapphires in my e-ring not look the same?
3. Wouldn''t the jewelry store have recognized that when we brought it back to them?

It''s really just puzzling! If I can get some better pictures, I''ll post them. I''ll definitely post an update after I visit the gemologist.
 

zeolite

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I've waited for a number or your comments before replying. Hope this helps:

Here is a picture - perhaps not the greatest, but you can see how the facets look dull/cloudy.
In your picture, your diamonds don't look any shinier to me than the sapphires. I still think this is a cloudy film that can be removed by a proper cleaning.

When I clean it, I just use gentle soap, warm water, soft brush, soft cloth. I did clean it myself (as described before) and it didn't make a difference.
All you did was the most superficial, gentle cleaning.This makes sense on pearls, peridot, tanzanite and other soft gems. Diamonds and sapphires can easily withstand the vigorous cleaning I recommended, which you haven't done: steam cleaning and red rouge, tripoli polishing. And let me say again, you can only determine if the stones are hazy or scratched after proper cleaning, by examining with a microscope. Until you get this film off, you don't know if you are really seeing utra-fine scratching.

If it were simply a film of dirt:
1. Wouldn't I be able to clean it off? No, some films are quite difficult to remove.

If it were something with the way I clean it or some chemical I use. Diamonds and sapphires can take strong cleaning methods and chemicals. Did you know that some diamonds are boiled in sulfuric acid after cutting? An acid that would dissolve steel?



It could be normal wear and tear because sapphires aren't as tough as diamonds. You need to understand the difference between toughness and hardness. Toughness is the the resistance to knocks, banging and chipping. Sapphires are tougher than diamonds, since diamonds can cleave. Hardness is the resistance to scratching. Diamonds are much harder than sapphire.



I spoke to a local gemologist (has a graduate degree from the GIA) on the phone, and he thought this sounds odd and the suggestion to grind/polish the sapphires to be concerning. Yes, because that should not be necessary.



Does it make sense to have someone grind and polish the sapphires - I'm concerned that they would not fit properly in the channel. If the sapphires were removed, and only the table, not the sides of the crown, were polished, then the sapphires would not be any smaller in diameter. BUt removing them could make resetting again in the channel setting quite difficult.



is there a possibility that these aren't even sapphires? Yes, but the intense deep blue color of a sapphire is quite difficult to imitate

What kind of stone could they be that looks like sapphire but would be so easily damaged? In color, only tanzanite, or synthetic cobalt spinel, or cobalt glass, all of which are highly unlikely. And spinel is quite hard (mohs hardness 8).

given that this is a channel set ring and the metal on top of the channel are relatively unscathed, I have doubts about the sapphires are really sapphires.

I can't imagine how those stones could have gotten so scratched by you given the lack of wear on the channel.

Both of these statements show that the metal is not scratched, so I don't see how the stones can be scratched. I think you're seeing a haze, not a scratch.



could they have been treated sapphires - and by treated, I mean HEAVILY treated? I have seen how treatments in a stone will just "melt" away after heat exposure from things like sizing, etc, so maybe this is what's happening? Sapphire melts at 2050 degrees C (perhaps 3500 degrees F), about 7 times as hot as the hottest home oven. Sapphires are cut and polished, AFTER the heating, so they should be as shiny as an unheated sapphire. Using a setting torch during sizing could be a problem, but remember 14 kt gold melts at 1550 degrees F, whereas the sapphire can go almost 2,000 degrees F higher than the gold, before melting.



 

FlowerGirl111

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Zeolite,

Thank you, that is very helpful to know that a film could be something I couldn''t wash off. I will be sure to ask the gemologist about whether it could be a hazy film. I''m sure he should be able to determine that easily? I find it interesting, though, that those sapphires could have developed such a film, but not the sapphires on my e-ring. Maybe it is a difference in settings, though.

I was at Helzberg today buying a watch and mentioned this to the salesperson (knowing she''s not a gemologist and can''t give me an expert opinion, but they had microscopes right there and I was curious...). She looked at the ring and said (I had not suggested this to her), "is it possible they aren''t sapphires?" She felt looking under the microscope that it looked abraded, but she said more like a chemical damage. Which doesn''t seem to make much sense to me. Anyway she started looking at the diamonds and commented that the diamonds are very nice, that they look flawless to her and then asked what we paid for the ring. When we told her she said that seems low. She asked if she could test the diamonds with the diamond tester. I said sure. She tested it and they didn''t test as diamonds (but my diamonds in my other rings did). However I''ve done a little research on this site about diamond testers and I see these testers aren''t always reliable, so I am taking this information with a grain of salt.

However I''m glad that I had her look at it because it brought up a few more questions I could ask the gemologist. This discussion has been extremely helpful too - I appreciate all who have taken the time to answer my questions!


 

vanessa_b

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Date: 2/15/2009 5:09:59 PM
Author: FlowerGirl111
Zeolite,


Thank you, that is very helpful to know that a film could be something I couldn''t wash off. I will be sure to ask the gemologist about whether it could be a hazy film. I''m sure he should be able to determine that easily? I find it interesting, though, that those sapphires could have developed such a film, but not the sapphires on my e-ring. Maybe it is a difference in settings, though.


I was at Helzberg today buying a watch and mentioned this to the salesperson (knowing she''s not a gemologist and can''t give me an expert opinion, but they had microscopes right there and I was curious...). She looked at the ring and said (I had not suggested this to her), ''is it possible they aren''t sapphires?'' She felt looking under the microscope that it looked abraded, but she said more like a chemical damage. Which doesn''t seem to make much sense to me. Anyway she started looking at the diamonds and commented that the diamonds are very nice, that they look flawless to her and then asked what we paid for the ring. When we told her she said that seems low. She asked if she could test the diamonds with the diamond tester. I said sure. She tested it and they didn''t test as diamonds (but my diamonds in my other rings did). However I''ve done a little research on this site about diamond testers and I see these testers aren''t always reliable, so I am taking this information with a grain of salt.


However I''m glad that I had her look at it because it brought up a few more questions I could ask the gemologist. This discussion has been extremely helpful too - I appreciate all who have taken the time to answer my questions!



Flowergirl, that sounds very worrying to me. I hope the stones all turn out to be genuine, but it sounds like something shady might have been going on.
 

LisaRN

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Flowergirl,

If the diamonds are not testing as real, and you think Shane Co is reputable....then perhaps they are coated and dirty and that is why they are not testing genuine. Zeolite''s theory sounds the most logical. Fingers crossed.

Lisa
 

FlowerGirl111

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So here''s the update. I took the ring to a graduate gemologist this week. He cleaned it and took a look at it. He couldn''t use the refractometer with the sapphires because of how abraded they are, or something. At any rate - the diamonds are real and he is fairly certain the sapphires are real. They are heavily abraded - he''s never seen anything like this before. The interesting thing is that some of the diamonds are slightly abraded as well. The gold, though, looks to be in pretty good shape. Essentially he was mystified and said the only thing that could cause this kind of abrasion is another diamond.

So we started talking about what I do with my jewelry - how I store it, clean it, etc. Couldn''t come up with anything that would cause this. The only thing that seems the possible explanation is this: on the adjacent finger I have a diamond band with 5 stones. It''s not exactly channel set; I don''t know how to describe it. It sits nicely and doesn''t ever seem to rotate, that I''ve noticed (and I''ve been paying attention to this the last few days, and I don''t notice it rotating.). However, the diamond and sapphire band always had a tendency to rotate slightly one way or the other (but not all the way around so the stones were on the palm side, however). He looked at my diamond band under the microscope and those diamonds are not abraded, though. It seems odd they aren''t, if those two rings are rubbing together sometimes, since the diamonds on the sapphire band show some abrasion. And the gold on both rings seems fine.

So, I don''t know for sure that this is the answer. But at least I know that the diamonds and sapphires are real. He seemed to think it''s possible the sapphires could be ground/polished (whatever it was Shane had said) and perhaps still fit in the ring. I am thinking of just having Shane do that, since they said they would. If the stones don''t fit, then I can replace them or have them put into some other jewelry, or something. I''m just not sure what else to do at this point.
 

Fly Girl

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Very interesting, Flowergirl. Thank you for the update. I have wondered about wearing rings on adjacent fingers, and have avoided it myself. I think I will continue to do so.
 

FrekeChild

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That is weird. At least they are real, but I''m still in shock that that happened...
 
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