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Thoughts on the price of unheated Burma blue sapphire?

WaveOperator6

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 16, 2020
Messages
3
Hi all,

I'm sharing a bit of update on the unheated blue sapphire search for the engagement ring.

My fiancée and I decided to go straight to the source and work with a gem dealer from Asia through some of our friends who got their engagement ring stones through this route.

The dealer is showing us some unheated Burma blue sapphires. (Don't know if I can share pictures here, so I will have to ask the dealer first then probably add in the comment section)

May I know the price per carat for top quality unheated Burma blue sapphires from gem dealers?

We are currently looking at a 10ct unheated burma stone (with Gübelin & SSEF), and the gem dealer's price is $70000.

Also if you bought from gem dealers before and would like to share some tips to us, please do so and we will very appreciate your insights and can't thank you enough!

Thanks and wish you all stay in good health.

Sincerely,
WaveOperator
 

MollyMalone

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Messages
3,169
Question for you: would you be able to return the stone, for a full refund, if the stone doesn't captivate you in person -- and if so, how much of a hassle, and how expensive, would it be to return the stone? E.g., would the dealer provide a prepaid label for insured, return shipping back to him/her, with you paying the cost of the return; even if the dealer is willing-able to do that, would the means of transport be difficult for you to arrange on your end?

You can't count on the sapphire looking the same in real life as it does in photos-videos. Returning the stone back to the dealer in Asia could prove more complex and pricier than you'd be willing to pay (you won't be able to simply take it to your local FedEx) -- and some countries have tight restrictions on gem stones coming in.

P.S. For those who didn't see @WaveOperator6 's first thread last week, here's the link so you can see the previous discussion there:
 

Bron357

Ideal_Rock
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Jan 22, 2014
Messages
4,599
If you’ve received plenty of photos / videos in different lighting conditions you should find the gem is as it seems in person.
The main issues with any sapphire are
1. colour and tone - is this your desired colour?
2. Clarity - as unheated it may seem a little “hazy” on some angles. Check the “looking down at arms length” and “looking down at a slight angle” to ensure what view you’ll be mostly enjoying is still appealing.
3. Cut- most sapphires are cut as a modified oval to preserve carat weight. This isn’t necessarily are problem but does it have a “window”? A window is the centre part being see through to the finger underneath. In a saturated sapphire this isn’t usually a problem but for some people its a definitely unappealing or worse very annoying.
4. Payment and Delivery.
how are you paying and what recourse do you have if no sapphire arrives? Ditto shipping, how is it to be shipped. Will it be insured? And most importantly what taxes and import custom fees will you have to pay to receive your sapphire?
5. a 10ct sapphire is big. It May sit very high up off the finger. What size finger is your fiancé? If she is petite with petite fingers a 10 carat sapphire plus diamonds (if that’s your intention) may be too much.
just be cautious and prudent.
How exciting for you.
 

Bron357

Ideal_Rock
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Jan 22, 2014
Messages
4,599
As for carat price?
How long is a piece of string?
An unheated Burmese sapphire is considered a premium sapphire but don’t be paying for the “label” if it’s not “true to type”.
You should be expecting peacock or royal blue, thats a “vivid” colouration, that’s what Burmese are desired for.
Unheated is desirable because it completely rules out any human interference to change or improve the sapphire. Unheated though can cause clarity issues or make zoning more noticable (There can be variations in the blue colour as crystal growth occurs a very long period and the environment may have altered during that time)
Burmese sapphire as a guide,
Unheated top colour, excellent clarity to $16,000 (maybe more) a carat for over 4 carats gems. This drops to less than $5,000 a carat for fair colour and included / noticeably zoned gems. So the price per carat varies considerably depending on colour and clarity and the difficulty for a novice consumer is knowing is $7,000 a carat is a great price or too much.
this is the colour you should be aiming for. D0CA6803-1FBA-47C2-9B88-B5A10AD357C0.jpeg
 

LilAlex

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Mar 3, 2018
Messages
577
We are currently looking at a 10ct unheated burma stone (with Gübelin & SSEF), and the gem dealer's price is $70000.
Not in a million years. Anyone could find you ten stones that check every one of those boxes and still are mediocre. You need to see this stone next to a bunch of others. Experts can barely do the mail-it-to-me routine.

Once you name your budget like that (and you did on your prior thread), you are screwed, imo. Everything costs $70K. I feel like you walked onto the used car lot and asked what can $10K get me?
 

MollyMalone

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Messages
3,169
If you’ve received plenty of photos / videos in different lighting conditions you should find the gem is as it seems in person. * * *
This suggests to me that you think the OP should feel comfortable forking over $70,000 even if the sapphire cannot be returned for a full refund, but I'm not sure if that's what you really meant to convey?

I always enter into an online stone purchase with the expectation that I'll be returning the stone once I have it in hand (altho' I've ended up rarely returning a stone). Here's why:
  • Even assuming the vendor is conscientious about posting photos that -- on his/her display -- accurately depict the stone, I have no way of knowing if the color calibration on my desktop, laptop, or iPad is in sync with theirs. And although I re-calibrate the displays a couple of times a year (color calibration "drifts" over time), I'm relying on the "native" (built-in) calibration feature -- I've never made the investment in, e.g., a colorimeter that my brother, who's a real photography buff, has.
Check out this article if you'd like to find out if the browser you're using is "color-managed"; if not, switching to another browser could be useful:​
  • Photos are 2-dimensional; even videos kinda "flatten" a colored gem imo.
  • Colors don't all "register" the same way with each of us. E.g., I know from her comments here on PS that @chrono is more sensitive to brown in rubies & red spinels than I am.
You might find it fun to do this free variation of the Farnsworth-Munsell 100-Hue test for color discrimination:​
  • Gems perform differently in different lighting situations. And that's even more of a concern of mine for you, @WaveOperator6 , in this particular scenario because a vendor in SE Asia is much closer to the Equator than anywhere in the continental US, so the natural lighting there isn't the same as where you live.
 
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voce

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 13, 2018
Messages
4,060
Lots of considerations. I want to ask if you're in a geographic location with lots of sunlight. If you buy a stone from SE Asia, I guarantee that it's not going to look the same as in the pictures (just won't look as good) if you're not along the same latitude.
 

Bron357

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Messages
4,599
This suggests to me that you think the OP should feel comfortable forking over $70,000 even if the sapphire cannot be returned for a full refund, but I'm not sure if that's what you really meant to convey?

I always enter into an online stone purchase with the expectation that I'll be returning the stone once I have it in hand (altho' I've ended up rarely returning a stone). Here's why:
  • Even assuming the vendor is conscientious about posting photos that -- on his/her display -- accurately depict the stone, I have no way of knowing if the color calibration on my desktop, laptop, or iPad is in sync with theirs. And although I re-calibrate the displays a couple of times a year (color calibration "drifts" over time), I'm relying on the "native" (built-in) calibration feature -- I've never made the investment in, e.g., a colorimeter that my brother, who's a real photography buff, has.
Check out this article if you'd like to find out if the browser you're using is "color-managed"; if not, switching to another browser could be useful:​
  • Photos are 2-dimensional; even videos kinda "flatten" a colored gem imo.
  • Colors don't all "register" the same way with each of us. E.g., I know from her comments here on PS that @chrono is more sensitive to brown in rubies & red spinels than I am.
You might find it fun to do this free variation of the Farnsworth-Munsell 100-Hue test for color discrimination:​
  • Gems perform differently in different lighting situations. And that's even more of a concern of mine for you, @WaveOperator6 , in this particular scenario because a vendor in SE Asia is much closer to the Equator than anywhere in the continental US, so the natural lighting there isn't the same as where you live.
I was meaning more you should buy with the intention of keeping rather than buying to “have a look and then decide”.
If you have seen sufficient quality photos and videos and seen the lab report the sapphire is more likely than not to be as expected.
I think that if you can’t be 90% committed to the purchase on the basis of the supplied information and photos, it’s not wise to proceed because if you are buying internationally, apart from the costs and hassles of return shipping and insurance, often times import fees and taxes you paid to receive the gem are non refundable. Bank or Escrow fees related to the money transfer/s are also non refundable.
 

LilAlex

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Mar 3, 2018
Messages
577
I guarantee that it's not going to look the same as in the pictures (just won't look as good) if you're not along the same latitude.
This.

In equatorial locations, for much of the year you can look right down at your ring mid-day and it's lit by an overhead spot-light. At my "typical" North American latitude, the sun is at most 68 degrees above the horizon at mid-day in summer and only 20 degrees above the horizon in winter. Even in Miami (latitude: 25 degrees), where the sun may be 80 degrees above the horizon (i.e., almost overhead) in summer, it's still only 40 degrees up in the winter.

You can check me with this calculator from NOAA: https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/grad/solcalc/azel.html. It seems almost hard to believe.
 

Skyjems

Shiny_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
118
As for carat price?
How long is a piece of string?
An unheated Burmese sapphire is considered a premium sapphire but don’t be paying for the “label” if it’s not “true to type”.
You should be expecting peacock or royal blue, thats a “vivid” colouration, that’s what Burmese are desired for.
#1: Bron knows more about gems than 99% of jewellers I have known, listen to her/him.
#2: I would like to add that 'velvet' blue is also acceptable.
#3: Although VIVID is better, if a gem is peacock/royal/velvet or even closer to cornflower, from Burma and unheated, with Strong/Very Strong OR Vivid saturation, the origin still carries a premium.

********VERY IMPORTANT*********
I was telling someone on Thursday about origins because a client had recently bought a slightly bluish green (teal green) from Burma and WAY overpaid for it because of the origin. ORIGIN MEANS NOTHING if the gem is not within the 'trade ideal' range for that origin.

A very light and heavily included Colombian Emerald is not worth $1 more than a similar coloured Zambian, Pakistani, Ethiopian stone.
 

Ionysis

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 1, 2015
Messages
213
That seems remarkably expensive to me. I just saw a GRS certified 100% clean, royal blue, unheated Ceylon of just over 10ct sell here in Dubai for $40k. One of the most lovely stones I’ve ever seen in person.

Have you considered a Sri Lankan Stone? I know a vendor who buy from regularly in Beruwala who has a stunning selection.

A bit of caution however, buying sapphires online is quite difficult because the colour fluctuation in different lighting and at different angles is so significant. I’d buy a tourmaline online no problem. You need to be a lot more experienced with sapphire to get what you expected from the videos and photos.
 

Ionysis

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 1, 2015
Messages
213
One other question - are you SURE 10ct is the size you want to go for for a stone you’ll wear every day. I have a 10ct Colombian emerald and a 13ct cabochon ruby both of which which I adore but I would struggle to wear them daily. I even have a lower set five diamond ring to replace my 4ct diamond engagement ring sometimes as it’s high set and can get in the way.
 

Skyjems

Shiny_Rock
Trade
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Jul 9, 2020
Messages
118
A note about the size:

I have made several 10ct plus emerald and sapphire engagement rings, 'too big' depends on the wearer, 10cts can be a perfect size for the right person.

On the other hand: I have advised people to choose 3ct stones over 5ct stones because the bride to be was a teacher and a 5ct emerald on a school teacher's hand isn't reasonable because she is always dealing with kids and blackboard etc.
 

Rfisher

Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Oct 19, 2013
Messages
2,739
A note about the size:

I have made several 10ct plus emerald and sapphire engagement rings, 'too big' depends on the wearer, 10cts can be a perfect size for the right person.

On the other hand: I have advised people to choose 3ct stones over 5ct stones because the bride to be was a teacher and a 5ct emerald on a school teacher's hand isn't reasonable because she is always dealing with kids and blackboard etc.
I remember a post on here not that long ago about a big gem and it being on a professors hand while she taught class and it would hit the whiteboard.
True!
:))
 

partgypsy

Ideal_Rock
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Messages
6,491
Honestly I would work with denver appraiser orcwinknjones to source a stone for you. Too much money at stake.
 

DauphineMucha

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 13, 2010
Messages
385
Honestly I would work with denver appraiser orcwinknjones to source a stone for you. Too much money at stake.
Does Wink Jones source more than diamonds? I thought they are diamond dealer only, HPD?

I do however remember a long time PSer got her gem from Wink way back.
 

WaveOperator6

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 16, 2020
Messages
3
Thanks to you all, I'm well into the search process and learning a lot from this forum, appreciate each one of your posts and cannot thank you guys enough.

I'm currently interested in setting on buying this stone, unheated Burma, would like to hear your thoughts.

Thanks,
WaveOperator

#1.jpeg #2.jpeg #3.jpeg
 

JackTrick

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 23, 2019
Messages
267
Looks dark. Is that to your taste? I wouldn’t judge it as omg top color Burmese, so I hope it’s priced accordingly.

Do you have pictures of it looking straight through the table?
 

minousbijoux

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Aug 5, 2010
Messages
12,428
I concur - please pay an appropriate price for a not super saturated, slightly greyish, medium dark toned blue sapphire. Do not pay a Burma price tag, because that color is not what top Burma stones are known for.
 

chroman

Brilliant_Rock
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May 18, 2015
Messages
1,026
Given my color prefetences and your budget, it looks meh to me.

And maybe windowed in the second photo, though its hard to say
 

voce

Ideal_Rock
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May 13, 2018
Messages
4,060
I don't like the cut of that sapphire.
 

Ionysis

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 1, 2015
Messages
213
Neither cut not colour are great and for that money I’d expect it to be flawless and this has a few tiny inclusions. Keep looking.
 

Beautiful-disaster

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 14, 2020
Messages
281
I’m wondering if you would consider buying an already made piece with the appropriate stone and paperwork from a reputable auction house?
I have seen some truly amazing rings with insanely beautiful sapphires in that budget.
 

demantoidz

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Messages
61
Correct me if I'm wrong. It seems like the factors you are set on are: Budget, origin, unheated status, reputable lab report. But it seems like the factor of the exact color you are after is not clear (to me, from reading these posts). I don't mean the romantic 'cornflower/royal blue' that labs or dealers designate - sometimes VERY generously.

If I were you, before buying, I'd first decide on a more precise color I was after, after seeing blue sapphires of varying colors, preferably IRL, as that is a major factor in subjective beauty, pricing, value and rarity. More or less, what tone, hue and saturation level are you looking for? If you don't know how to articular this, you can post images of sapphires you/your SO like most color-wise. I agree with the others that that particular stone seems to a little too dark compared to trade ideal, slightly grayish, and overall the color just doesn't pop like the sapphire Bron posted earlier in this thread. Hopefully, this post isn't redundant (at least to future readers), even if it may not be helpful to OP.
 
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partgypsy

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Yes Wink Jones sources gemstones as well, in fact I think he started in colored gemstones. He would be able to tell you if he could help you. I feel he has a good eye and good value.
 

DauphineMucha

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 13, 2010
Messages
385
Yes Wink Jones sources gemstones as well, in fact I think he started in colored gemstones. He would be able to tell you if he could help you. I feel he has a good eye and good value.
Good to know. I don’t recall seeing gemstones from his site. Guess I have to ask him. Thanks
 

canuk-gal

Super_Ideal_Rock
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21,162
HI:

Leon Mege may have something.

cheers--Sharon
 
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