The sapphire is the second hardest substance on Earth, after the diamond. It is also a popular jewelry gem stone, much like a diamond, so it might seem obvious that the two could be interchangeable in some ways. Indeed, this is true, but you can’t really just swap out one for the other. Still, there are many reasons why you might prefer a sapphire over a diamond.
First of all, it is important to note that no gem can really achieve the shimmer and brilliance of a diamond. This has to do with the way the stone is shaped and cut—and a sapphire does not have “cleavage” like a diamond does. That means, of course, that one of the main attractions of the diamond can never be matched by any other gem and there are new trends in vintage engagement rings and art deco diamond engagement rings.
However, there are other reason why you might choose a sapphire over a diamond. You may be aware, for example, that diamond mining is often associated with civil wars. In fact, the term “blood diamond” is used to describe a gem that is mined in an active war zone and then sold to finance insurgency or the activity or a warlord, or an invading army’s war efforts. As such, then, when you buy a diamond, you may want to learn more about how it was harvested and sold.
That is, of course, if civil rights matters to you.
Sapphires, on the other hand, can only be mined from a few locations in the world. And none of these regions are particularly war torn.
Additionally, about 15 percent of diamonds are mined by artesinal diggers who tend to work in abusive conditions and even live in poverty (despite how much a diamond can sell for). Thankfully, most diamonds come from countries with strict labor and environmental standards that ensure high standards and community benefits.
Sapphire mining, though, appears to involve much less violence. And since the gems are found in a few regions across the world, it is easier to regulate labor efforts. Still, as much as 25 percent of the world’s sapphire supply comes from Madagascar, where conditions are dangerous and where some abusive practices may be observed; and where nobody requires the rehabilitation of the land after a mining operation is completed.
Finally, one thing you should consider is price. While morality comes into play, sometimes it is simply a matter of price. To put it simply, a 1.5 cwt diamond could cast upwards of $15,000 while the same sapphire carat weight could cost $1110 and its can be a challenge to find a natural sapphire ring on a budget, real sapphires are hard to find, top sapphire rings on a strict budget, even more so.
Of course, this is just an example, and there are other variables to consider. Diamond pricing adjusts according to not only its weight, but also its clarity and cut. Sapphires are not necessarily judged by these characteristics.