Australian Teal Sapphires Vs Montana Teal Sapphires
Currently, Montana and Australia are two of the most well recognized sources of teal sapphires globally. Due to their certified ethical norms and sustainable mining practices, many buyers consider sapphires from these two sources to be of the highest standards. A common misconception amongst buyers is that these two teal sapphires are one and the same. Apart from their sellers being caucasians, these two teal sapphires have nothing in common. Although both follow eco-friendly mining under strict regulations, the two sources yield very different sapphires in terms of their properties. Let’s explore how these gems differ from each other:
The key difference in the color of Teal Australian sapphires and Teal Montana sapphires lies in the distribution of the blue and green hues that make up the teal tint. Australian teal sapphires are predominantly green with a bluish tinge whereas Montana teal sapphires are predominantly blue with a greenish tint or teal blue sapphires. Another notable difference lies in the amount of saturation – Teal Montana sapphires are generally pale in comparison to the highly saturated Dark Teal sapphires from Australia.
Australian teal sapphires also exhibit a phenomenon called color zoning wherein the blue and green hues are distributed in distinct bands. One such gemstone with 50:50 color zones of blue and green is the ‘mermaid’ sapphire, which is very rare and highly valued. Montana teal sapphires, on the other hand, lack predominant color zoning.
Both Teal Montana sapphires and Teal Australian sapphires are recovered from alluvial deposits. Some of the abundant deposits include Rock Creek, Dry Cottonwood Creek and Missouri river. Australian teal sapphires are found in the regions of Anakie, Queensland and the New England district of New South Wales.
Most of the mining is carried out without any chemicals or the production of toxic byproducts. The mining processes are carried out with small scale equipment which do not cause any heavy damage to the environment. This makes the excavation of these gems extremely low impact and sustainable in the long run. Apart from being environmentally friendly, the mining processes are also executed in an ethical manner, adhering to all necessary guidelines.
Australian sapphires exhibiting color zones, Source: Navneet Gems and Minerals
Montana teal sapphires are substantially higher priced compared to Australian sapphires due to limited supply and resources. Most Montana sapphires weigh less than a carat, with the majority of them being just 0.5 carat, which explains their higher prices. Typically, a Montana sapphire may cost between 250 USD to 1500 USD per carat for a gem under 0.5 carat. Larger gems may cost up to 7000 USD. On an average, a Teal Montana Sapphire ring may cost anywhere between 500 USD to 4000 USD, depending on the cut and ring setting.
Australian sapphires, on the other hand, are available in larger sizes which makes it more affordable as they can be mass produced. An untreated 2.74-carat oval-cut Australian sapphire costs around 1900 USD.
Age of the Operations
Montana Sapphires were first discovered in the 1860s gold rush, in the gravels of the Missouri river. Yet, they were largely ignored as they had to be faceted and polished to make them marketable and gold was easier to mine and sell. Years after their discovery, after being ignored by the Americans, these sapphires gained a renewed interest from London gem merchants, who then went on to acquire 3900 acres of the major sapphire bearing sites.
By the 1950s the mines were back in American hands where they reorganized as the “New Mine Sapphire Syndicate”. Unfortunately, the production costs turned out to be higher than the profits and the operations had to be ceased. With subsequent ownership changes and extensive mining operations, most of the Montana sapphire mines are now largely exhausted. The Rock Creek region is one of the areas that still has rich deposits of natural sapphires and is being mined responsibly.
Although Australian Sapphires were discovered in the 1850s, mining of these gems only began 40 years later. However, the mining operations came to a standstill with WW I, only to resume later in the 1960s when the opening of the Asian markets led to its increased demand. With the mining operations being carried out for almost half a century, Australia is currently one of the leading contributors in the global sapphire and colored gemstone industry. (Read more on Australian sapphires on our blog posts)
Traditionally, Montana sapphires exhibit exceptional clarity and uniform coloring along with being free of cavities and inclusions. As a result of their high clarity, their natural appearance surpasses heat treated stones. However, most of the Montana teal sapphires that are mined these days are typically pale and have light to moderate amounts of silk in them. Montana sapphires need to be heat treated in carefully conditioned temperatures and the correct ratio of oxygen and hydrogen to bring out their blue-green tones. Montana sapphires are highly versatile and lend themselves to a variety of cuts. Some of the preferred cuts for Montana teal sapphire rings are round, oval and cushion. Another popular cut in teal sapphires is the emerald cut, which brings out the stone’s characteristics and clarity.
Unlike Montana sapphires that have an inherently open color, Australian sapphires need to be cut carefully to not make them dark and opaque. Therefore, it should also be remembered that there is significant loss of weight in Australian sapphires. As these are inherently dark gems, the girdle should be kept thin to prevent the gems from appearing black. Round is the most preferred shape with these gems as this shape maximizes light return. To overcome the dullness, Australian teal sapphires are heat treated to a temperature of 1400 ℃ or more to dissolve the inherent impurities. Here’s more to know about how to cut teal sapphires.
Australian vs Montana Teal Sapphires – Key Differences
|Montana Teal Sapphires||Australian Teal Sapphires|
|Color and Appearance||
Pale Green to Greenish Blue
Bluish Green, color banding may be seen.
Rare bicolored blue-green sapphires in 50:50 ratio may also occur.
Quite expensive due to limited resources
More Affordable, owing to larger sizes and mass production
|Age of the Operations||
Over a 100 years
Nearly 60 years
Regulated mining, environmentally friendly
Small scale; uneconomical
Sustainable mining, ethically sourced
Mass produced with limited machinery to prevent environmental damage
|Processing||Versatile – variety of options in cuts
Round, oval, cushion, emerald – common cuts
Rock Creek sapphires need heat treatment under careful conditions to bring out their colors
Cut with expertise
Significant loss of weight while processing
Round and Emerald – preferred cuts
Heat treated to enhance colors
For the longest time, Montana sapphires have been the most sought-after sapphires in the market. Their charm is almost unparalleled owing to their high clarity, pastel tones and brilliance. However, of late the yield from these sources comprises smaller gems that weigh just under a carat, which makes them unfeasible economically. A great alternative for these sapphires are the Australian teal sapphires, which are found in abundance and are mined ethically and sustainably. Sapphires are, in general, a better investment than diamonds in this economy. Being just as good as the Teal Montana sapphires in terms of their color, characteristics and versatility, Australian Teal sapphires are the gems to look out for!