When it comes to easily-obtained information, the world of sapphire engagement rings is not as well-documented as that of diamond rings, for example. However, as the popularity of this precious stone continues to experience a second wind, more and more people are becoming savvy to the terminology used by experts in the field
One distinction, however, continues to baffle those less in the know that between a natural and an untreated sapphires. And with good reason: at first glance, the two would appear to be the exact same thing. There is, however, a very subtle difference, which it is important to be aware of when shopping for sapphire engagement rings.
On what, then, does the distinction between a natural and a untreated sapphires hinge? The answer lies with commonly used heating and clarity-enhancing processes. These are mostly well-accepted and rather common procedures, whereby a naturally mined gemstone is submitted to certain laboratory measures in order to enhance its look, clarity, brilliance, and other parameters customers often look for when purchasing sapphire engagement rings.
The hitch, then, lies with the fact that, by definition, these treatments automatically make any stone they are applied to cease to be an untreated stone. As such, a sapphire can only be called a untreated' when it combines the requirements of having been obtained from nature and never having been subject to any type of artificial enhancement treatment undertaken in a laboratory.
Stones that do come from nature but have been chemically treated to enhance smoothness or brilliance are often referred to as a natural. When compared to untreated sapphires, these will often have fewer imperfections or inclusions, much richer colors and added brilliance, making for an overall more attractive appearance.
As far as which of these variants is better, or even acceptable, the sapphire market is actually divided. While most jewelers and industry professionals have an accepting stance on chemical treatments in sapphires, there are, of course, those who advocate that the only stones of this kind worth having are those who are sold as they were plucked from the earth, entirely untreated. To those with this point of view, a natural sapphires are tantamount to synthetic ones, as they have been altered in a laboratory setting.
Couples buying stones for their sapphire engagement rings, however, are likely not to be too fussed about the distinction between untreated and natural sapphires. For them, it will be all about the brilliance and beauty of the stone. Still, this is an important subtlety to know about - as they say, the more you know...