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Are White Sapphires the Cheapest Alternatives to Diamond?

Recently there have been a few articles circulating around, depicting people's advices on the viability of white sapphires as engagement ring centerstones. Some of these talk about natural white (colorless sapphires) and their inherent rarity being a good basis of worth compared to other diamond imitations like cubic zirconia or moissanite. Earth-mined sapphires though typically have much more inclusions than synthetic or man-made sapphires.

Since the very late 1800's synthetic corundum has been produced by the Flame Fusion process invented by the French chemist, Auguste Verneuil. Many other processes and methods have also been developed since then, and virtually flawless synthetic corundum (the mineral species for ruby and sapphire varieties) are now easy to find at many jewelry and gemstone markets.

Lab-grown / synthetic colorless sapphire seems to be gaining a little bit of popularity, mostly as the "budget-goer's" choice for engagement stone alternative. Today you can find synthetic sapphires on many platforms for just a few dollars per carat. It can be very tempting to opt for a non-diamond stone due to diamond's relatively steep pricing index. Cubic zirconia is also a contender for the cheapest alternative gemstone choice for diamonds.

Regardless of whether natural or lab-grown colorless sapphire is used though, the gem variety does not have the same brilliance as diamond. It's luster is described as sub-adamantine, which while very good- directly means "just lower than diamond's". Likewise it also does not have diamond's color dispersion (fire) and hardness. These property differences may be seen by the naked eye, but according to some people not everyone notices by just glancing at the stone.

For our opinion, looking at a diamond versus a colorless sapphire will show you an obvious difference. Diamond's sharp color flashes, it's scintillation and luster are all superior in visual appeal to white sapphire's more mute optical properties. Colored varieties like blue sapphire can have a depth of color that presents its own vivid, eye-catching impact, but white sapphire does not have this advantage.

It really depends though if you would choose to opt for white sapphire as a center-stone, it is very affordable indeed. At the same time, natural white sapphire does hold that status of being a true earth-mined gemstone, which other alternatives like moissanite cannot claim. You can firmly say that your stone was created deep within the earth through natural geological events, and holds that rarity for all of its existence.

Sapphires rank at a 9 on the Moh's scale, second only to diamond in hardness. They are also extremely tough (durable) and resist splitting better than diamond (which has directions of atomic weakness called cleavage planes). Based on these traits, it does make for a practical stone to wear, even on an everyday basis.
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