Are Montana sapphires expensive?

     The answer to this question cannot be a simple yes or no because sapphires mined in Montana, like sapphires mined elsewhere, come in a large variety of sizes and qualities. Large stones of good quality cost more than poor-quality small ones.  

      Most Montana sapphires that have been mined from alluvial deposits ( excluding the hard rock mined Yogo) are inexpensive because most are small and contain significant inclusions. Stones with many internal inclusions cannot reflect light, and so appear relatively dull and lifeless. Small and lifeless would describe approximately 95% of typical mined production. Small, in this case, refers to polished sapphires that weigh less than one-half carat. Stated otherwise, if a miner recovered 1000 stones, perhaps at most 50 would be marketable and weigh more than 1/2 carat.

Montana sapphire color effects on pricing   

     Color is A third variable affecting price, but it is much harder to quantify. It is harder to quantify because, unlike size and quality, beautiful color is in the eye of the beholder. For example, some people may prefer green to blue. People differ concerning their preference for lighter as opposed to darker shades of a particular color. Nevertheless, fancy colors are more expensive than blues and teal Montana sapphires. Pink, purple, lavender, orange, and saturated yellow are fancy colors. These unheated Montana sapphires are more expensive because they are more rare. But fancy colors also come in various sizes and qualities, so their prices will vary accordingly.

          Most of the sapphires mined in Montana are blue and green. The blue-green or teal-colored Montana sapphires are in most significant demand. They are the most expensive, all other things being equal.

Heat treatment: A key factor in Montana sapphire expense     

A fourth variable is whether or not the sapphire has been heated. Nearly all Montana sapphire is heated before it is polished. Heating sometimes improves color. It also enhances clarity. Some people prefer to buy a sapphire that has not been heat treated. Because unheated stones are so rare, their treatment status will affect how expensive their Montana sapphires will be.

 Montana sapphire pricing  

One half-carat, good color, high-quality Montana sapphire might cost 400-700 dollars. Three-quarters-carat stones with good brilliance and color cost 1,000-1,500, and the asking price for one-carat sapphires with similar characteristics is 1,500-2,500 dollars. Larger stones with an average weight of approximately two carats cost 2-3X more than the one-carat sizes. Sizes over three carats with exceptional clarity and color are so rare that they could be classified as collector material.


     Suppose the question, “Are Montana sapphires expensive?” was about whether sapphires mined in Montana are more or less expensive than sapphires mined elsewhere. In that case, the question has not been answered in this article. That form of the question is best addressed in a separate article because it would involve an entirely different set of exciting issues that deserve its own dedicated space.

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