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First Montana Sapphire purchase help

melowely

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 13, 2021
Messages
8
Hello everyone! I’m new around here. I’ve been doing a lot of reading the past couple months about Montana sapphires for an anniversary ring. I really fell in love with one from Gemfix and ordered it. I immediately loved it, but a couple days in I’m
starting to second guess & wonder if I should have looked at more gems. (I am still within the 7 day window.) My husband thinks I’m overthinking or having perceived fomo, or analysis paralysis (he’s probably not wrong, I can really overthink things to death. )

Wondering what you all think.

There is also an inclusion off one side (looks like a stripe), but it mostly blends in & is only visible in certain angles. It doesn’t bother me, but is there anything I should be concerned about with it?

Link to gem:

Pictures in different lighting (hopefully I attached these right)

9AE229A2-0364-4A7F-8B46-DACACDBBB6AA.jpeg 8B1165C1-E759-4E77-A023-051475A443F5.jpeg C69FC0C2-7D70-4A72-81A1-1CB430E5C9FA.jpeg 658D15BD-D32D-4688-B577-C732B51C1D51.jpeg 2961CA1B-2A6E-45BD-802D-3D696D172C48.jpeg
6FCD31CE-718E-479C-A499-EA292562345E.jpeg
 

distracts

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 11, 2011
Messages
5,888
What is it about the stone that is causing you to second guess? It looks like a pretty typical Montana sapphire in terms of color, with excellent cutting. Montana sapphires shift color a lot in different lighting environments, as you've probably found out. I think this one has nice colors in all your pictures, but it really depends if you like the colors it shifts to.

I don't think the inclusion is anything to worry about. You could ask Andrew if it poses any structural integrity issues but I think anything that survived cutting is probably fine. I have quite a few gemstones with some kind of inclusion or other because it's just a lot harder to find super clean ones in the color you like than with diamonds.
 

melowely

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 13, 2021
Messages
8
What is it about the stone that is causing you to second guess? It looks like a pretty typical Montana sapphire in terms of color, with excellent cutting. Montana sapphires shift color a lot in different lighting environments, as you've probably found out. I think this one has nice colors in all your pictures, but it really depends if you like the colors it shifts to.

I don't think the inclusion is anything to worry about. You could ask Andrew if it poses any structural integrity issues but I think anything that survived cutting is probably fine. I have quite a few gemstones with some kind of inclusion or other because it's just a lot harder to find super clean ones in the color you like than with diamonds.

Thanks for replying! Honestly I think I’m just a little nervous because it’s the first time I’ve purchased one so it’s kind of uncharted territory. I think my mind is playing tricks on me and playing the “but what if tomorrow you came across a color you loved even more” game.

The color is really lovely to me, it’s right up my alley. It reminds me of the many colors of the ocean which is really significant to us & what I was going for. :) The only part of it I was slightly unsure how I felt about in person was the steely gray version of it. But then I’ve seen some beautiful all gray stones with accent diamonds that I thought were really lovely. I think that’s the other part of it is just trying to envision the whole picture.
 

distracts

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 11, 2011
Messages
5,888
Thanks for replying! Honestly I think I’m just a little nervous because it’s the first time I’ve purchased one so it’s kind of uncharted territory. I think my mind is playing tricks on me and playing the “but what if tomorrow you came across a color you loved even more” game.

The color is really lovely to me, it’s right up my alley. It reminds me of the many colors of the ocean which is really significant to us & what I was going for. :) The only part of it I was slightly unsure how I felt about in person was the steely gray version of it. But then I’ve seen some beautiful all gray stones with accent diamonds that I thought were really lovely. I think that’s the other part of it is just trying to envision the whole picture.

The only way to defeat the "but what if I find a better color" game I've found is to visit the gem dealer you are purchasing from and view trays of dozens if not hundreds of gems. Out of three or four trays, there will maybe be two in each tray that I actually like. And then when I line all those up, I can pick my top favorites. That's not something you can do when buying online though, so I can see why that would cause concern.

If you really like the color, then that's it! The steely gray is VERY typical of Montana sapphires. I have one that is significantly more blue than yours and it still goes a steely gray in some light. I think it's a pretty color so I don't mind. It will be really hard to find a Montana sapphire that doesn't turn a steely gray, and I don't know if it's even possible if you want that kind of seafoam green color.
 

T L

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 20, 2008
Messages
23,924
Is it just me, but the cutting seems shallow on the gem. Perhaps the original rough was flatter, and he did the best he could as a skilled lapidary. However for a precision cut gem, I see a “fisheye window” which is a small window that occurs when the stone is only very slightly tilted. A well cut stone shouldn’t show a tilt window at such a tiny angle. I would also prefer a slightly smaller table. Normally I wouldn’t mind this, but if you’re paying precision cut prices, you should get a perfectly cut stone.
 
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Cerulean

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 13, 2019
Messages
2,472
Yes it does look a bit shallow - it has quite a large spread for a sapphire this weight.

But compared to many sapphires, it’s still very well cut, but that’s what I’d expect from this seller.

Overall you have to decide if you like the gray. I just helped my sister select a Montana, and even with much brighter saturation (it’s also greenish blue) it still goes gray. This is to be expected in Montana sapphires.

If gray isn’t your cup of tea, don’t sweet talk yourself into liking it. Look at the stone in front of you instead of comparing to gray stones online - it can be helpful for inspiration but you don’t know if they grays are similar, undertones could be different, lighting, etc. Are you looking at photos of silver spinels with a high refractive index? Just some food for thought. You have to like the gray that your stone shows!
 

melowely

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 13, 2021
Messages
8
Is it just me, but the cutting seems shallow on the gem. Perhaps the original rough was flatter, and he did the best he could as a skilled lapidary. However for a precision cut gem, I see a “fisheye window” which is a small window that occurs when the stone is only very slightly tilted. A well cut stone shouldn’t show a tilt window at such a tiny angle. I would also prefer a slightly smaller table. Normally I wouldn’t mind this, but if you’re paying precision cut prices, you should get a perfectly cut stone.

I noticed it seemed shallow compared to some others that were similar. I’m still learning though, what would an ideal cut for these dimensions? I am looking to do a custom ring with it, would there be any issue with setting it?
 

melowely

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 13, 2021
Messages
8
Yes it does look a bit shallow - it has quite a large spread for a sapphire this weight.

But compared to many sapphires, it’s still very well cut, but that’s what I’d expect from this seller.

Overall you have to decide if you like the gray. I just helped my sister select a Montana, and even with much brighter saturation (it’s also greenish blue) it still goes gray. This is to be expected in Montana sapphires.

If gray isn’t your cup of tea, don’t sweet talk yourself into liking it. Look at the stone in front of you instead of comparing to gray stones online - it can be helpful for inspiration but you don’t know if they grays are similar, undertones could be different, lighting, etc. Are you looking at photos of silver spinels with a high refractive index? Just some food for thought. You have to like the gray that your stone shows!

Thanks for the advice! Very true and good points to think about. I did know from the description that it would read gray in some lights. But I think the opposite is actually happening, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it because I never considered gray before but it’s grown on me a lot. I feel like the picture makes it look a lot more flat than in reality too.
 

T L

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 20, 2008
Messages
23,924
I noticed it seemed shallow compared to some others that were similar. I’m still learning though, what would an ideal cut for these dimensions? I am looking to do a custom ring with it, would there be any issue with setting it?

Ideal cut depends on the gem. For example, stones with a lower refractive index look better with a deeper cut, higher crown and smaller table. I’m not sure of the specific optimal cutting proportions of a sapphire, or corundum in general.

As I stated before, lapidaries can be highly skilled, but some recut poorly cut stones, or oddly shaped gems, and you’re not truly gettting an optimal cut. If cutting is extremely important to you, and you’re paying a premium for it, you should get an gem that’s cut optimally. The exception is a very rare gem, but in this case, Montana sapphire isn’t particularly difficult to find IMO.

If this stone was cut optimally, I suspect he would have ended up with a much smaller gem. I have a sapphire that is cut a bit shallow wish a fisheye window, but it doesn’t bug me because I paid a non precision cut price.
 

distracts

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 11, 2011
Messages
5,888
I noticed it seemed shallow compared to some others that were similar. I’m still learning though, what would an ideal cut for these dimensions? I am looking to do a custom ring with it, would there be any issue with setting it?

If the tilt window doesn't bother you, I wouldn't worry about the shallowness. The benefit of a shallow stone is that you get a bigger faceup size for the carat weight - and likewise for a deeper stone you get a smaller faceup size for the carat weight. And it is usually carat weight rather than face up size that correlates more strongly to price.

The closest similar color I could find on Gemfix in a deeper cut but similar faceup size was this, and this would be more than $1k more expensive: https://gemfix.com/gems/sapphire-montana-12-646

So it's definitely something you have to balance. Do you want the perfect cut, and to pay more for it? Or are you fine with a not absolutely perfect, but still very good, cut. I personally am usually fine with the latter as long as the color is what I want, but everyone has different priorities.
 

distracts

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 11, 2011
Messages
5,888
**a reminder that trade members may not comment on prices of other vendors**

Yep - in the past two years I know multiple people who have bought Montana sapphires for engagement rings who I could have sworn up and down were diamond people but they really wanted something "ethical." (word in quotes because it's a much more complex issue than people make it out to be.) And the prices some people are showing me - $10k for a yellow gold solitaire with a one carat heated Montana sapphire? Like ok sure I GUESS you can pay that if you want but - anyway I've sent several people to some of the vendors here (including Gemfix) who've got much nicer Montana sapphires at much more reasonable prices than a lot of the popular instagram engagement ring companies.
 
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T L

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 20, 2008
Messages
23,924
**a reminder that trade members may not comment on prices of other vendors**

Yes, I was at a tiny gem show recently and bought two 4mm stones weighing around 80-something points. It was $105, which I thought was decent for untreated material (if I’m to believe the dealer), but I’ve seen it for much more.
 
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Alnitak

Rough_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jan 16, 2013
Messages
95
Showing pictures of mining equipment does not in any way make any argument for "ethical" vs. non-ethical. NOTHING you use in the modern world is possible without some environmental impact or mining impact. The computers or phones you are using to browse this site require vastly more mining and toxic chemicals than small-scale mining does.

I know Potentate Mining very well and have visited their site numerous times. Their permit allows them to disturb and mine five acres at a time and then they have to rehabilitate and replant it. They are mining land that was clearcut of trees by the previous landowner, who BTW didn't have to rehabilitate or replant--there's vastly more regulation around mining than logging, for example. The average farm in the United States is 435 acres; many of those acres (probably a majority) are plowed up year after year, leading to the loss of billions of tons of topsoil each year, and pollution of streams and oceans with fertilizers and pesticides. Is farming unethical?

My personal view on ethics in mining accepts that fact that our very existence means that we will disrupt our environment. That said, we can make choices to minimize that disruption. An ethical mine is one that understands that and does its part to reduce it's environmental impact. That means land rehabilitation, minimization of water pollution, etc. I also look at things like employment: Is the mine providing good-paying jobs for people? In many areas without mining many people would go unemployed.

Having personally visited many of the mines in Montana, I am perfectly comfortable with them. All of them are very small-scale, and disrupt vastly less land than even the smallest farms. All of them provide local employment and local income to people. All of the mine owners I know out there take their commitment to the environment seriously, and they are also all vastly more regulated than almost any other industry you can imagine.

More ethical than a diamond? Well, I don't think so as most diamond mines fit these same criteria. But that's partly a messaging issue for the diamond mining companies, an partly personal choice.
 

T L

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 20, 2008
Messages
23,924
So this is basically what a fisheye window looks like. This sapphire is slightly too shallow. The stones on the side are slightly tilted away due to how they’re set, but their tilt windows aren’t as large as the fisheye window in the center sapphire. Those side stones are more optimally cut. If this bugs you, I would consider a different stone. 83499409-D1A1-4691-83FE-E9B83666E25E.jpeg
 

MissouriRiverSapphireCo

Rough_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jan 3, 2016
Messages
15
Jeff has addressed the Gem Mountain/Rock Creek deposit. Missouri River Sapphires are my specialty so I want to talk about that deposit and ethics/sustainability for a moment. The deposit, concentrated around Hauser Lake, is entirely alluvial, meaning these Sapphires are already free from their host rock and laying mixed in with the river gravels in a relatively barren area along the riverbed. This makes mining easier and lower impact than an in-situ deposit like the Yogo Mine. These are very small plots conscientiously worked by local people who, frankly, love their work.
Part of ethical, sustainable mining practices involves paying miners a decent price for their wares. I buy a lot of MT rough from them, and the going price this year is 100$ p/ct + for *fine* rough over 3ct. At that price they sell in seconds flat. I have even payed as much as 200 p/ct for rough of exceptional color. It seems some vendors have an axe to grind but that won't change the reality that the market has shifted and prices have risen steeply in the last few years, along with the cost of most everything else.
 

PrecisionGem

Brilliant_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jul 27, 2004
Messages
1,786
My question is what makes the Montana Sapphire ‘ethical’, but the sapphires from say Africa not ethical? I have been to several mines in Africa, they are worked by local people who make more money mining than farming, they enjoy their work, and in most cases the impact on the earth is less than what‘s going on in Montana.

I don’t have an axe to grind, but I thing the cost of a finished stone should be based on the cost of the rough, and beauty of the stone. I understand people selling the rough now are asking and getting inflated prices, but please don’t tell me that rough I used to buy for $5 to $10 per ct. 10 years ago, the cost to produce is not $100 Per ct. This is simply charging what ever the market will tolerate. Almost all gems have gone up in price the 10 years, but I cant think of anything that has shot up the way Montana Sapphire has. I think it’s artificially inflated due to some good marketing and perceptions by the customer.
 

Ella

Brilliant_Rock
Staff member
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Jan 18, 2010
Messages
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Folks, a reminder that trade members may not comment on the business practices of other vendors, their prices, etc.

Please keep discussions to non-business related comments.
 

PieAreSquared

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 18, 2014
Messages
235
I don’t have an axe to grind, but I thing the cost of a finished stone should be based on the cost of the rough, and beauty of the stone.

So if you can buy synthetic rough for 10 cents per carat, is $75-$130 per carat a fair price to sell the finished stone for?
 

PrecisionGem

Brilliant_Rock
Trade
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Jul 27, 2004
Messages
1,786
So if you can buy synthetic rough for 10 cents per carat, is $75-$130 per carat a fair price to sell the finished stone for?

While some of the flame fusion material is that inexpensive, the pulled and hydrothermal is way more expensive. Actually this material cost about 5 times what good natural amethyst cost. Most of these lab stone are in the 2 to 4 ct size, so end up around $200. The total time, including sawing, cutting, maybe some correspondence with the client, photographing etc, can be around 4 hours. How much per hour do you think I should work for? Keep in mind as a self employed person, I pay all my own ’benefits’, and full 14% FICA. There is also the overhead, and all the equipment needed. What is the hourly rate when you call a plumber over? Cutting a lab stone I certainly don’t get the hourly rate of a plumber, furnace repair or even a cleaning lady around here. My wife called one once to get a price and it was $50 per hour cash in our area.
 

Aekimble

Rough_Rock
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
5
Hello everyone! I’m new around here. I’ve been doing a lot of reading the past couple months about Montana sapphires for an anniversary ring. I really fell in love with one from Gemfix and ordered it. I immediately loved it, but a couple days in I’m
starting to second guess & wonder if I should have looked at more gems. (I am still within the 7 day window.) My husband thinks I’m overthinking or having perceived fomo, or analysis paralysis (he’s probably not wrong, I can really overthink things to death. )

Wondering what you all think.

There is also an inclusion off one side (looks like a stripe), but it mostly blends in & is only visible in certain angles. It doesn’t bother me, but is there anything I should be concerned about with it?

Link to gem:

Pictures in different lighting (hopefully I attached these right)

9AE229A2-0364-4A7F-8B46-DACACDBBB6AA.jpeg 8B1165C1-E759-4E77-A023-051475A443F5.jpeg C69FC0C2-7D70-4A72-81A1-1CB430E5C9FA.jpeg 658D15BD-D32D-4688-B577-C732B51C1D51.jpeg 2961CA1B-2A6E-45BD-802D-3D696D172C48.jpeg
6FCD31CE-718E-479C-A499-EA292562345E.jpeg

Great choice on a Montana sapphire and with GemFix! We got our engagement stone there two years ago. Andrew has incredible stones and cuts. If you are unsure about this one, I recommended going back and looking at a couple more just to be sure. But I think your stone is gorgeous! 42EF44E2-2764-4091-9919-11EB4AB4A154.jpeg
 

melowely

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 13, 2021
Messages
8
Great choice on a Montana sapphire and with GemFix! We got our engagement stone there two years ago. Andrew has incredible stones and cuts. If you are unsure about this one, I recommended going back and looking at a couple more just to be sure. But I think your stone is gorgeous! 42EF44E2-2764-4091-9919-11EB4AB4A154.jpeg

Oh that’s really pretty! I even have a band like that with the marquise. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks everyone for weighing in. I decided to keep it. I put it it out of sight for a couple days & when I took it out again I had those rush of first impression awestruck feelings again.
 
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