Most (if not all) sapphires and sapphire jewelry seen online and in retail stores will be described as “natural” sapphires. These natural sapphires are usually not accompanied with proper disclosure regarding the treatments that they have undergone. The word “natural” is intended to identify a sapphire crystal that has come from the ground (not synthetically created). What is likely to be left out in the description is the fact that the color and clarity, indicated as “natural”, is really not just “natural”. In almost all cases the color and clarity of the sapphire will come from various treatments that you may very well not be aware of.
Yes, a natural sapphire is a sapphire crystal that has been created in the ground – but the color and clarity (what you are paying for in a sapphire) is created from a heating process that would have never occurred naturally in the stone that is being shown.
The truth is that almost everything you will see in sapphires anywhere is treated, and treating is not a simple process. It is a sophisticated procedure that has taken decades to perfect by experienced enhancement specialists. The stones are not just thrown in an oven and baked like cookies.
Treating and heating a stone is a very involved process that significantly changes the original appearance (and value) of the rough crystal that came out of the ground. Ultra-high temperature gas furnaces heat these stones for a period of 3-10 days, at or above the melting point of the crystal (1800°C). Additives such as glass and coloring agents can be included in the heating process in order to fill in natural cavities and cracks in the sapphires. Coloring agents are then diffused into the heating process in many cases, where the coloring of the sapphire is completely and radically altered. Trying to determine what you are buying is now a scientific research project in most cases.
Obviously, our business is all about the rare and truly natural beauty of “real” sapphires, so of course we can be a bit too direct when it comes to comparing the differences between a treated sapphire and a REAL untreated sapphire. We try to be fair, but we find disclosure and education is heavily undermined by most other companies selling treated stones.
A Natural Untreated sapphire is nothing more and nothing less – it is the stone from the ground as Mother Nature made it. The color and clarity is just how it came from the earth, all we do is facet it!