What are Montana Sapphires?
Sapphires have been mined for more than 100 years in Montana. As the only state in the U.S. with significant production of gem-quality sapphires, these stunning stones have become a highly sought-after commodity.
The sapphire is considered one of the “Big Three” precious colored gemstones, alongside emeralds and rubies. Their diverse array of colors and striking brilliance are not the only qualities that make Montana sapphires so popular. They are also valuable due to the way that they are ethically sourced and mined. Of course, a Montana sapphire's monetary value is based on its color, cut, clarity, and carat weight.
Montana sapphires can be found in three main locations: Rock Creek near Philipsburg, the Missouri River near Helena, and Yogo Gulch. Rock Creek sapphires, Missouri River sapphires and Yogo sapphires all are valuable types acquired through sapphire mining operations. Sapphires mined today were formed around 150 to 200 million years ago. They are created underground from shifts in pressure and heat.
Sapphires are made of corundum, also known as aluminum oxide (Al2O3). Corundum is considered one of the hardest known natural substances aside from diamonds. Due to their high resistance to weathering and extremely hard construction, sapphires can be found in both sedimentary rocks and sedimentary deposits. Montana sapphires are commonly used in jewelry and other ornaments due to their attractive hues and transparency.
Today, Montana sapphires can be found in a variety of jewelry, from custom engagement rings to stylish necklaces and bracelets. These beautiful sapphires are suitable for both casual, everyday wear, as well as for formal events that call for elegant pieces.
This year’s jewelry trends have brought us a variety of beautiful offerings, such as naturally colored diamonds, modern rustic stones, and memento mori-inspired collections. Each type of stone has characteristics that make it an optimal choice for jewelry wearers. Natural sapphires contain internal markings, known as inclusions, which make each precious gemstone unique. The sapphire clarity scale spans from “eye clean,” meaning no inclusions, to “heavily included.”
What Is Unique About Montana Sapphires?
It’s not hard to see why Montana sapphires have gained so much attention as of late. These stunning and sustainable stones are mined in the United States, are highly durable, and have superior color and clarity. What sets Montana sapphires apart from regular sapphires is their color, cut, clarity, and treatment.
Montana sapphires are generally lighter in color than their classic counterparts. They also have high clarity with many being deemed as "eye clean", meaning they have no inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. Montana sapphires are also not heated like other sapphires. While regular sapphires often have a heat treatment to correct inclusions, Montana sapphires are not heated.
What Types of Montana Sapphire Colors are There?
One of the most common questions regarding Montana sapphires relates to color variation. While many gemstones are limited to just a few select hues, Montana sapphires can be found in all colors of the rainbow. Some of the most popular stones seen in recent jewelry collections include the teal Montana sapphire, blue green Montana sapphire, green Montana sapphire, and yellow Montana sapphire.
While you may have a Montana blue sapphire, it may not have started off that way. Some Montana sapphires derived from the Missouri River deposit undergo color changes. A color change is typically the result of the trace element vanadium. These stones may appear to be a blue color in the daylight but violet or purple color when seen in incandescent light. Some paler stones may shift from a sky blue hue to light lavender.
The most common colors of Montana sapphires are green, lavender, and blue-green. However, you can also find these gemstones in yellow, orange, and pink hues. The Yogo Montana sapphire’s trademark color is ‘Cornflower Blue’, which refers to its medium-to-light blue shade that contains little green. If you want a Montana sapphire that has this unique and mesmerizing color, you’ll want a stone that has been mined out of the Yogo Gulch area.
Loose Montana Sapphires
Custom designed jewelry generally begins with a selection of a loose Montana sapphire. The custom design process can be a fun way to create a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry that reflects the recipient’s unique style and design preferences. During the custom design process, the buyer can choose the metal used, the style of jewelry, and the overall design of the piece. They can also look at and choose the size, shape, cut, clarity, and carat weight of the Montana sapphire to ensure a satisfactory result.
At Chinchar Maloney, all our diamonds and gemstones are natural, untreated, and derived directly from the earth in an array of stunning colors and characteristics. Schedule a visit to our showroom in Portland, Oregon to see some of our heirloom-quality, handcrafted fine jewelry for yourself and choose from a wide selection of Montana sapphires for your own custom-built jewelry. Create a classic piece that will last the test of time and provide countless years of enjoyment.
Rough Montana Sapphires
Rough Montana sapphires are the perfect option for buyers that value the rough and rustic look of gemstone jewelry. A rough sapphire has typically not been polished or treated, meaning it remains in its original state. The raw beauty and contour of these stones make each gemstone truly one-of-a-kind.
Mining regulations and guidelines in the United States are strict. Montana sapphires are more ethical than many other gemstones due to less harsh mining procedures. These stones are typically collected from the river, rather than dug from the Earth. They are naturally weathered and have little environmental impact.
While all sapphires are scratch-resistant and highly durable, Montana sapphires are superior in their formation. Their high level of resistance and hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale makes them suitable for everyday wear. In fact, their strength and durability are only second to natural diamonds, meaning you can count on these gemstones to last a lifetime.
How to Wear Montana Sapphire Jewelry
1. Montana Sapphire Ring
While there are many ways to wear Montana sapphire jewelry, a Montana sapphire ring is one of the most popular. Fancy-colored gems look incredible when set in gold. You may prefer the elegant look of a center stone, or perhaps the luxurious appearance of several Montana sapphires aligned on any gold (yellow, white or rose) band.
A Montana sapphire ring can be worn as an everyday ring with your casual attire or business wear. It can also be worn with sophisticated dresses or gowns to bring any formal ensemble to completion. While diamonds are timeless, many brides adore wearing their Montana sapphire engagement rings while walking down the aisle.
2. Montana Sapphire Earrings
Montana sapphire earrings add a touch of class to any outfit. These lovely gemstones can be found adorned with a variety of earring types, such as stud earrings, dangle earrings, drop earrings, hoop earrings, chandelier earrings, and cluster earrings. Some earring types have just a single gemstone for a hint of color, while others have multiple stones set in gold or silver.
While you may think that a pair of earrings won’t affect your look, the right pair of earrings can transform your appearance. A pair of dazzling Montana sapphire studs can take your ensemble to the next level, whether you’re wearing a pair of simple slacks or a designer cocktail dress. Pull your hair back to show off a pair of dangling earrings or sparkling hoops.
3. Montana Sapphire Necklace
No look is complete without a statement necklace and a Montana sapphire necklace is certainly the statement you want to make this year. Choose a Montana sapphire in your favorite color and have it made into a remarkable pendant that you can wear around your neck for a polished appearance.
Although Montana sapphire necklaces look incredible when paired with formal attire, such as a structured sheath or peplum dress, they can look just as good with your everyday clothes. A sparkling gemstone is a perfect way to dress up any outfit, while also boosting your confidence.