Sapphires and why they are awesome.
I have been making Jewellery since I was a kid, mostly beading and costume type jewellery. A couple of years ago I decided that I wanted to learn to solder and start working with precious metals. Not knowing where to start, I enrolled in a short beginner jewellery course that ran for 8 weeks, one night a week and found that I had a knack and really enjoyed it. However, I wasn’t 100% satisfied until I started learning Wax casting and combining what I learned in both courses to create my label.
Since then, I’ve begun to feel that familiar itch of wanting to learn something new. Living in Melbourne, unfortunately I spent most of 2020 in lockdown and was unable to take a course to learn to set gems, so I took to self learning and self teaching as well as video tutorials and other blogs for help. There were and still are MANY failures but what I do love about wax casting is being able to cast some stones in place and having them come out the other side of the process all intact and the stone set for me.
I first started using synthetic stones just in case it was a disaster! Synthetic stones are great and highly durable but there's something nice about knowing you are wearing something special and made by the earth like a Sapphire. Lab created Sapphires are synthetically produced crystals whose hardness on the Mohs scale is second to diamond, making it extremely durable. It typically grows in cylindrical sticks called boules, and requires a slow, expensive and energy intensive production process.
Synthetic gemstones can be differentiated from natural gemstones because they are too perfect meaning the quality is too high. The synthetic gemstones being vastly superior in appearance due to the lack of impurities, often sell for lower prices when compared to natural gemstones.
I started doing some research into what stones I could cast in place that didn’t cost a bomb like diamonds. Diamonds are amazing and they are the hardest stone available which is why they are used to cut so many things. Sadly, good quality (and even the not so great quality ones) are expensive, more than I was willing to spend experimenting on something that might end up a complete fail.
And then I found that Sapphires were the ideal store for me! Sapphires can range in price starting from a couple of dollars, to over $11,000 per carat. The most expensive sapphire on record was sold for $135,000 per carat. The price of a sapphire is determined based on its quality, which means that a large, low-quality sapphire would be a lot cheaper than a small but very high-quality sapphire.
Although people often associate a sapphire with the color blue, sapphires come in a wide variety of different colors. Sapphires in colors other than blue are called - fancy sapphires. Yellow and pink Sapphire have become very popular, and are now often seen in jewellery. I love using things that are a little bit different and LOVE using pink, yellow, orange, red and green sapphires.
The most expensive colors are the highly saturated blues, the intensive pinks, and the padparadscha colors. The reason blue sapphires have always come with the highest prices is also due to their large sizes. A pink or a padparadscha can only fetch prices in a similar range if they weigh over 100 carats, but stones like that with exceptional color and clarity are very rare.
I started using Sapphires in my ‘Compass necklaces’ in a star setting by using my graver in the wax instead of metal still giving that clean cut finish. I’d love to be able to do it straight into the metal but sadly I’m not quite there yet!
I set the straight into the wax and when I get them back from casting they look exactly the same as they went in! Although they are quite small, the give the necklace an extra little sparkle and make them extra special.