What is an untreated unheated sapphire

Beauty, rarity and durability are the three factors that make a gemstone valuable and why we fall in love with them. 

Untreated sapphires means those that have not had any form of treatment to enhance their colour or clarity. This means these sapphires are in their purest form, they were mined and simply cut and polished to show their inner beauty. Most of the time untreated sapphires are referred to as unheated sapphires as the heat treatment is the most common enhancement. Unheated sapphires and untreated sapphires are one and the same as no treatment can be applied to a sapphire without the help of heat treatment. Unheated sapphires mean the sapphire is natural and it has not been enhanced by any form of heat treatment or any other treatment.  

Why choose an untreated unheated sapphire
Rarity of a gemstone

It is not just the beauty that makes us want to own something valuable. We all want something that is uncommon and scarce. Jewellery is also a symbol of wealth. Otherwise you would be wearing something you can buy from the corner shop but beautiful - not that there is anything wrong with it but it is not the purpose of having a valuable piece of jewellery.

Unless we learn, we are unaware that majority of the gemstones in the market are treated in some manner.

Treatments take away the scarcity, rarity and sometimes the durability. 

Treatments include heat treatment to alter colour of a sapphire or to improve its clarity. Heat treatment is a permanent treatment when it comes to sapphires and the gemstone will look exactly the same in years to come. These are known as heated sapphires or treated sapphires. Particular colours such as royal blue is near impossible to find in nature without heat treatment. This colour was first made famous by Princess Diana’s engagement ring and created a huge demand to replicate it. Therefore these particular colours even in heated sapphires can command a reasonably high value, however an equivalent untreated natural sapphire would be many times the price of a heat treated sapphire. This is also why the mid blue sapphires command a higher demand and value, because it represent natural findings.

There are also chemical treatments such as diffusion treatment and surface coating where colour is penetrated into the gem crystal or a layer of synthetic sapphire is deposited on to a lower quality natural sapphire. Other treatments include doublets where a layer of sapphire is glued on a to piece of synthetic sapphire or on to another type of gemstone. These type of treated sapphires are abundant and has a fraction of the value of an untreated sapphires. Diffusion treatment can be difficult to detect beyond heat treatment. 

However it is important to recognise the necessity of such treatment; for example not everyone can afford a natural gemstone and they still want to be able to wear something beautiful. It also reduces the wastage of some poor quality gemstones. 

We find it phenomenal how a natural untreated sapphire has survived weathering over thousands of years, be unearthed in magical colours and still be clean with so much sparkle. Such survival is phenomenal.

What is important is to recognise the value difference, what you want to wear and how you would feel about wearing it. Are you looking for something just beautiful or something that is beautiful as well as phenomenal?

Just to sum it up in a measurable number, on average 95% of the sapphires available in the market today have been through some form of treatment (source: GIA) and only 5% are unheated natural sapphires. At Deliqa Gems we have chosen to offer the cream of the crop to our valuable clients. What is available at Deliqa Gems are some of the finest sapphires nature has to offer.


Sasha Gammampila