Debunking Teal Sapphires – Part Two: Origins
A gem that is all the rage of late is teal sapphire. These swanky blue-green jewels have become immensely popular due to their vibrant, one-of-a-kind color tones. They are also one of the more popular choices for engagement rings in 2021. Since these gems are relatively new in the market, many buyers are largely unaware of the fine details pertaining to these stones. The nomenclature for these gems is described in detail in part one of this article. In this article, we’ll look into their origins.
To understand the origins of teal sapphires, we need to understand the process in which they are formed. Sapphire formation can be mainly grouped into metamorphic and basalt related. The type of formation in turn influences the appearance of the sapphires. Traditionally, blue sapphires are metamorphic in origin and are widely sourced in Kashmir and Burma..
The hues of blue, green and yellow, which lead to teal, are seen with basalt related formation instead. Hence, teal sapphires are associated with basalt-related sources like Australia, Thailand, Madagascar and so on. Several other sources of teal sapphires that have been discovered lately are also slowly gaining popularity in the market.
To simplify the distribution of sources, we have categorized them in two – principal sources of teal sapphires that carry out large scale production of these gems and subsidiary sources with up and coming mines.
Category 1: Principal Sources (Ethically Sourced Teal Sapphires)
One of the reasons why teal sapphires are becoming increasingly popular in the market can be attributed to their responsible sourcing methods. These gems are hallmarks of ethically mined stones that adhere to all mining guidelines and regulations.
There are several sources of teal sapphires around the globe that follow ethical mining practices, with the most popular ones being Montana and Australia.
The principal source of teal sapphires is Australia. Some of the biggest mines of teal sapphires are found in Australia and the mining practices are done on a large scale basis. The mining is entirely mechanical and carried out according to the norms and guidelines, which is why it is highly ethical. Majority of the mines are found in Queensland and New South Wales. The sapphires found here are generally dark.
Features of Australian teal sapphires:
Montana, also known as the ‘treasure state of the USA’, has been associated with sapphire mining since the 1860s. Because of their potent mining practices, the sapphires found here are always responsibly sourced and eco-conscious. Most mined are found along the Missouri river, Dry Cottonwood Creek and Rock Creek. The sapphires found here typically vary from 2mm to 1 inch in size and are found in rare colors with good clarity.
Features of Montana Sapphires:
Artisanal Mines in Africa:
Ilakaka in Madagascar and Gombe in Nigeria are two hotspots for teal sapphires in Africa. Most mining excavations in these sites are carried out by family owned businesses. These local businesses benefit the local community and also enable the implementation of fair and ethical mining procedures.
Category 2: Subsidiary sources (Newer Mines)
Although the production of teal sapphires is relatively lesser, Srilanka is still considered to be a premium source of teal sapphire gems. The quality of the gems mined here is exceptional, which makes them equally expensive.
Nearly 80% of the world’s gemstone trade is conducted in Thailand. It is the biggest producer of green sapphires. Most of the sapphires found here are either green or greenish blue. Because of their geological origin, they resemble the sapphires found in other basalt deposits like Australia and Nigeria. The major sapphire mining was always done in the region of Chanthaburi, which is also the leading cutting and marketing centre. However, due to the overmining of these deposits, the region of Kanchanaburi was also mined.
Northern Madagascar is a rich source of teal sapphires. It is one of the best sources of teal sapphires across the globe. Due to its close proximity to Srilanka, the gems found in Madagascar may sometimes be indistinguishable from the gems found there.
Kenya is another upcoming mining reserve for teal sapphires in Africa. The sapphires found in this country are usually quite dark and bear resemblance to the gems mined in Australia. It can be quite tricky to pinpoint the origin of these stones due to their dark nature.
The gems mined in Ethiopia come with a lot of inclusions. The stones have an inherent “sleepiness” which makes them different from the ones mined in other parts of Africa. However, some of the Ethiopian teal sapphires may be comparable to the gems from Kanchanaburi in Thailand.
Apart from the artisanal mines in Gombe, there are several other sources scattered throughout Nigeria. The stones here are more towards the blue end of the spectrum and contain minimal green.
Teal Sapphire mines have been recently discovered in Tanzania. The gems found here are more bluish with a hint of purple and grey, which gives them a magnetic charm. They exhibit the same brilliance and fire as the traditional blue sapphires. These gems may also be indistinguishable from the deposits found in Australia at times.
Comparison of teal sapphires from Australia and Tanzania. Note the similarity in the saturation. Source: Navneet Gems and Minerals
Over the last few months of 2021, we realized that most of the nations where a majority of gemstone mining is done, have faced huge social, environmental and cultural losses. In a small initiative, we decided to be part of the change and have pledged to donate a part of our sales to One Tree Planted, a non profit organization focused on global reforestation. A small step, but that in the right direction makes all the difference.
Teal sapphires, being basalt in origin, are found in several parts of the world like Australia, USA, Srilanka, Thailand and Africa. Depending on the geographic region they are found in, their color tones, transparency and saturation may differ. The most important and biggest sources are found in Australia and Montana, where the mining practices are large-scale and highly ethical. Apart from the principal sources, there are certain up and coming mining sites like Nigeria, Madagascar, Thailand etc that produce premium gems of exceptional quality.