Do Sapphires Scratch Or Chip? What To Do When That Happens?

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Sapphires are harder than every other stone, except diamond. This can make you wonder if it’s possible to scratch or chip a natural sapphire. We have taken the liberty to research this, as well as what you can do if it happens.

Yes, sapphires can be scratched or chipped. However, because they are such hard gemstones, they can only be scratched by specific things. If your sapphire is getting scratched easily, it’s not a real sapphire.

After learning that a sapphire can get damaged, you probably want to know what can damage it. In this article, we will go over that as well as how to repair it. We will also talk a little bit about how to tell if your sapphire is real or fake.

Three sapphire gems cut for jewelry, Do Sapphires Scratch Or Chip? What To Do When That Happens?

Can A Real Sapphire Be Scratched?

The only crystal harder than sapphire is a diamond. This means the only things that can scratch sapphire have to be harder than or equal to the hardness of the sapphire, which is 9 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. Basically, natural sapphire cannot be scratched by anything but a diamond or another sapphire. If you have a genuine sapphire, it will only sustain scratches if you have it rubbing against other sapphires or diamonds.

Loose round sapphire

How Do You Get Scratches Out Of Sapphire?

There are a couple of ways to get scratches out of your sapphire. One of them is by hand and the second way involves special equipment. If those two ways fail, you can also use a sealer to seal the scratch.

By Hand

This method only works for scratches that are shallow, meaning scratches that are less than 1-millimeter deep. First, you need to get some diamond powder that is 100,000 to 200,000 grit. You will also need olive oil and a Dremel or other grinding tool.

Next, you mix a drop of olive oil with a bit of the diamond powder until it forms a paste. Then, you put the paste onto the scratch and buff the gem lightly. It is important to prevent buffing too much, or you might ruin the symmetry of the gem. Finally, you rinse the paste off the gem and lightly polish it if desired.

Removal With Lapidary Equipment

Female lapidary at work on a grinding machine

When you have a deep scratch, the first method will not work. So, you will need to re-facet the gemstone in order to keep it symmetric. It is recommended that you take your jewelry to a professional who has experience with lapidary equipment. The reason for this is because this method can completely ruin the stone if done incorrectly.

The process for this method is really similar to the process for hand polishing your sapphire. However, there is a higher risk of the stone breaking because the scratch is deeper. As a result of this process, your sapphire will be smaller.

Sealer

If the scratch is so deep that you will need to use lapidary equipment, and you don’t want to make your stone smaller, sealing the scratch might be the best option. Sealing the scratch will make it invisible so that it’s not marring the beauty of the gemstone.

To find the best sealer, you will need to know the refractive index of your stone. A stone’s refractive index is the angle at which the light comes in or out of the stone, which is known as refraction. Have a jeweler help you find the proper sealant because improper sealant won’t hide the injury on the surface of the gemstone. If the filler isn’t correct, you will still be able to see the flaw in the gemstone when the light hits it.

Cedar Oil

In order to temporarily hide a scratch, you can rub cedar oil on it. However, this method isn’t very effective long-term because it requires that you periodically treat the stone.

Do Sapphires Chip Easily?

Natural sapphires are extremely durable. They do not chip easily. In fact, because of their crystalline structure, diamonds are more likely to chip than a sapphire.

Can A Chipped Sapphire Be Repaired?

Due to the nature of a sapphire, it is unlikely a real sapphire will chip. However, if it does, you can take it to a jewelry store and ask if they can repair it. Often they will have to use lapidary equipment to re-facet or buff the stone. Chips that are close to the edge of the stone can be polished until the stone evens out.

How Can You Tell If A Sapphire Is Real Or Fake?

Group of the blue sapphires on white background

One of the easiest ways to tell if your gemstone is fake is if it can be scratched or nicked. When you look at a stone, try to scratch it with a coin. If it scratches, it is most likely glass.

Look for flaws in the sapphire. A natural sapphire will have impurities and flaws. If the gemstone was grown in a lab, it will be flawless. If it has little bubbles, it is a sign that it could be glass.

Another test is to breathe on the sapphire and see how long the breath it takes to evaporate. If it is fake, it will take five or more seconds to evaporate. Real sapphires will be clear in less than two seconds because of the way they conduct heat.

Finally, if you aren’t sure, it doesn’t hurt to have an expert look at your stone. It is best to take it to a third party as the people who sell it to you may insist it is real when it isn’t so they can charge more.

Natural Vs. Lab Created Stones

Some people don’t consider lab-grown gems as real. However, they have the same makeup, visual qualities, and other properties. The only difference between lab-grown and natural gems is where they come from and the number of inclusions they have.

Sapphires found in nature are rare and mined from the ground. They are all different and prized because of this. When they are grown in a lab, they are put into manufactured conditions that simulate the high heat and pressure that form a natural sapphire.

Natural gemstones will have flaws and impurities. However, synthetic sapphires are nearly flawless. They are made to be ideal and to have only the highest grade. In order to tell the difference between the two, you need to be a gemologist. They are so similar that the differences aren’t obvious.

Synthetic sapphires are cheaper because they aren’t as rare and don’t have to cover the labor costs of mining them. However, they tend to be extremely high quality because they are grown to be flawless.

Finishing Thoughts

So, sapphires can be scratched and chipped. However, it is really difficult to get them to chip. If a stone chips or scratches easily, it isn’t a sapphire. We’ve covered how to fix any scratches that do happen, how to spot a real sapphire, and the difference between a synthetic sapphire and a natural sapphire.

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