The Allure of the Montana Sapphire
Montana sapphires – hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered. First discovered by gold panners in Helena, Montana around 1865. These gems have been found deep in the ancient river gravels or in the clay layers of the Montana mountains for over 150 years. Montana sapphires – or corundum, weren’t initially sought after due to the pale colors of the natural stones. Luckily time has changed things and brought us the invention of heat-treating as well as the growing appreciation for the natural colors of the Montana sapphire.
One of the beautiful things about the Montana sapphire is that you can choose whatever color you prefer. These gems come in every color of the rainbow, including color change and parti-color(multi colors in one stone) varieties. A pale blue or pink sapphire accented by a halo of white gems can be absolutely stunning!! Or choose a contrasting color to really bring out the color of your stone.
Durability of the Montana Sapphire
Intriguing, lasting and ready for you to love forever! Being rated 9 on the Mohs hardness scale scores points for this fabulous gem. Although diamonds win top spot here, their inflated prices and controversial mining techniques have some people looking for alternatives. Montana sapphires are mined on a relatively small scale, often by individual miners working their private claims. Depending on the location, these miners have to dig deep past the overburden to access the gem rich gravel layers. They then run these gravels through a wash plant to sort the gem concentrates from the boulders and dirt. From there, they hand sort the sapphires from the surrounding material. Buying a Montana sapphire supports our local economy and as well as healthy mining techniques.
Size of your Montana Sapphire
Montana sapphires can range in size from miniscule to over 50 carats in the raw but typically you’ll find finished sizes in the 1/4 ct to 2 ct size. A one carat finished sapphire is a very nice size to build a promise ring or alternative engagement ring around. Smaller fingers will have a harder time wearing a really large sapphire – like over 2 carats. You can have a Montana sapphire cut in any shape. Rounds are most popular but fancy cuts are a fun way to show off your stone.
Where did they come from?
These colored gems formed millions of years ago and about half of the deposits in Montana do not have a known original geological source. One theory is that the sapphire bearing mountains have weathered away and the sapphires were carried downhill via mountain streams. These ancient streambeds are now weathering away and the water movement is carrying them to modern riverbeds. Nonetheless, these sapphires are somewhat concentrated into 4 main sapphire deposits of Montana. One near Philipsburg – the Rock Creek Deposit, one near Helena – the El Dorado Bar, one near Deerlodge – Dry Cottonwood Creek, and the Yogo Deposit located near Utica, Montana.
There are 3 gemstones that are traditionally considered the “precious gems”: Sapphire, Ruby and Emerald. Ruby’s are also sapphires but due to the rarity of the color, they’ve been given a separate name. These gems were commonly used by royalty to adorn their crowns and garments. They have long been sought after for their value and personal collections.
No matter what draws you to the Montana sapphire, you’re not alone. These dreamy gems have a true allure for many. They are rarely the same color and they tend to change or shift colors depending on the light. Take your gem outside and view it in the daylight – see the light dance through the facets. Enjoy the yellow flashes you can see in your teal stone – or the purple hues of your blue stone. Mother nature really outdid herself with this beautiful creation.