Gemstones and Birthstones: Montana Sapphires
Big Sky Country, Montana. Mountains. Prairies. Cattle. Movie stars. Sapphires.
Yep, some of that big blue sky has fallen to earth.
ABOVE: 2.26 ct. purplish-blue sapphire from Montana. Photo by Mia Dixon, courtesy Pala International.
Montana sapphires are not a particularly well-kept secret. The mines have been producing for years, with more or less commercial success. And some jewelers have now committed to showcasing them, like Green Lake Jewelry Works in Seattle, Washington, which features the stones in engagement rings. Don’t get the idea that because these sapphires are not from Kashmir or Sri Lanka that they are not as desirable. These are by no means second string stones. They are beautiful, affordable, and come in a wide range of lovely colors: green, blue, lavender, purple, yellow, pink. Go crazy and put one of each in a bracelet.
You can find Montana sapphires that have not been heat treated. However, as with sapphires from other parts of the world, the stones may be heated to intensify their color. I have a small Montana sapphire that I dug myself (some sites offer tourists the chance to get their hands dirty) that was a ho-hum gray blue when it came out of the ground. It’s a lovely bright blue now after heat treating. (And exquisite cutting by Coast-to-Coast Rarestone’s Michael Gray.)
A lot of people like Montana sapphires because they are conflict free (if you discount the possible encounter with a disgruntled steer). That makes a difference for Millennials who tend to make socially conscious purchases.
Montana sapphires tend to be small—under five carats–so you may not find one to rival Princess Di’s big blue beauty. But who knows? By the time those little royals grow up, they could be searching out our home-grown Big Sky gems. And I don’t mean Robert Redford.
For more on sapphires, see these other articles by Sharon:
Gemstones & Birthstones: Smokin’ Sapphires, Just the Facts
Gemstones and Birthstones: Star Sapphires, a Gem with Stars for the Stars
Gemstones and Birthstones: Sapphire — Beautiful Blue and All Colors of the Rainbow
Sharon Elaine Thompson is a GG and FGA who has been writing on gemstone and jewelry topics for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 1987. She also writes a line of Birthstone Romances under the name Liz Hartley.
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