Gold Sheen Sapphire Price Update – 2019

Prices for gold sheen sapphire have remained relatively constant over the last 12 months. The 2019 price chart and price reporting has been updated to bring it into line with the gold sheen sapphire grading system developed by T.M. Malik and S. Waddington.  The most notable change is the inclusion of the “commercial” grade to meet a market price point under $100 per carat.

The first half of the year saw prices ease, most likely as a result of general market conditions. However prices recovered somewhat in the latter half, sales from September shows (Bangkok and Hong Kong) reported as good, despite very unfavourable conditions in Hong Kong.

New cuttings of “exceptional” grade material were premiered at the September Bangkok Gem and Jewelry show and were readily sought by Japanese, Chinese, and European buyers.

Gold Sheen Sapphire carat price 2019
Gold Sheen Sapphire carat price 2019

Observed prices for Commercial grade stones were seen to range from $35 to $75 per carat. Good to Very Good Grade sales were reported ranging from $85 to $200, while Fine and Very Fine grade showed a wide variation with prices negotiated from $235 to $600 per carat for single, very fine grade collectors pieces.

The most marked variation was for Exceptional grade stones ranging from $800 to “over $1,500” reported in one case.

gold sheen sapphire exceptional colours
Exceptional grade Gold Sheen Sapphire displaying translucency and colour variations. Photo T.K. Malik 2019.

For more information on Gold Sheen Sapphire, see my information page here:

The Difference Between Gold Sheen Sapphire and other Corundum Varieties

What is Gold Sheen Sapphire, and why is it different from other varieties of corundum?

This is an important question because gold sheen sapphire can sell for $1,000 per carat or more, yet a Google search can reveal gems claimed to be gold sheen for under $10 per carat. Like separating any natural gem from its simulants, price is the first indicator that lets the buyer know the seller might be less than honestly describing the product.

Gold sheen sapphire is an industry recognised unique variety of corundum that came to prominence with an report in the Journal of Gemmology in 2015[1] and subsequent additional investigation by other gemological labs, including the Gemological Institute of America[2].  Major gem labs have independently tested gold sheen sapphire, and reached similar conditions. These include some of the most prestigious gemological laboratories, and the most respected gemologists in the world – no less than the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand[3], Lotus Gemology[4], Gem Research Swisslab[5], the Asian Gem Laboratory[6], the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences[7], and the Gemological Institute of America[8].

T. N. Bui et al of Gem-A[1], T. Thanapong et al of the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand[9], and W. Soonthorntanikul et al of the GIA[10], in independently assessing gold sheen sapphire differentiate it from other corundum varieties due to “… the golden sheen (set II) stones seemed to contain much higher amounts of platelets and needles intersecting in three crystallographic directions than those in the non-sheen (I) set”[11]. Which is to say, gold sheen sapphire is unique due to high amounts of microscopic platelets and needles that are not present in that quantity in other varieties of corundum. Therefore, as with identifying many types of gemstone, microscopic inspection is key to differentiating gold sheen sapphire from other varieties. However, since the abundant microscopic inclusions are responsible for the overall visual effect, the result is to produce a schiller or sheen that is obvious to the naked eye.

T. Thanapong et al also write “…  the combination of plentiful occurrence of exsolved reddish brown platelets plus short needles in three crystallographic directions in the basal pinacoid of sapphire is responsible for golden sheen star effects found in the set II samples”[11]. Meaning that all gold sheen sapphire should exhibit asterism in the form of a ‘golden star’.  This can easily be checked with any cabochon cut stone, and also for any faceted stone using the ‘water drop’ method to reveal its potential asterism.

The photo below illustrates the asterism and to some degree the sheen effect in gold sheen sapphire. Evident also are colour variations and translucency that further separate the variety and increase its value with buyers.

asterisim and colour variation in gold sheen sapphire - photo by TK Malik 2019
Asterisim and colour variation in gold sheen sapphire – photo by TK Malik 2019

In conclusion, both observation of an obvious sheen or schiller in the gem, combined with golden star asterism will enable the separation of gold sheen sapphire from other varieties.


[1]  Bui T.N., T.N.; Deliousi, K.; Malik T.K., T.K.; De Corte, K. (2015). “From exsolution to ‘gold sheen’: A new variety of corundum” ( from-exsolution-to-gold-sheen-a-new-variety-of-corundum-journal-of-gemmology-34-8-678-691/). Journal of Gemmology. 34 (8): 678–691.
[2] Update on Spectroscopy of “Gold Sheen” Sapphires Wasura Soonthorntantikul, Ungkhana Atikarnsakul, and Vararut Weeramonkhonlert
[3] GIT Gem Identification Report 150128130002
[4] Lotus GEMology reports No. 3350-0421, 3649-6150, 1317-8984
[5] GRS Gemstone Report No. GIRS2015-016808
[6] AGL Laboratory Report No. 0009471
[7] AIGS Gemstone Identification Report No. GF17092148
[8] GIA Gemological Reports 6222086838, 5223094814, 1229094877, 3225094890
[9] Nalin Narudeesombat, Saengthip Saengbuangamlam, Thanapong Lhuaamporn and Thanong Leelawatanasuk (2016). “Golden Sheen and Non-Sheen Sapphires from Kenya” (PDF). The Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (Public Organization), Bangkok, 10500, Thailand. July–August 2016: 283–284
[10] Update on Spectroscopy of “Gold Sheen” Sapphires Wasura Soonthorntantikul, Ungkhana Atikarnsakul, and Vararut Weeramonkhonlert
[11] Nalin Narudeesombat, Saengthip Saengbuangamlam, Thanapong Lhuaamporn and Thanong Leelawatanasuk (2016). “Golden Sheen and Non-Sheen Sapphires from Kenya” (PDF). The Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (Public Organization), Bangkok, 10500, Thailand. July–August 2016: p. 284

Ruby: Natural or Synthetic?

A friend sent me a ruby to help assess the value a parcel they were considering as an investment. On first glance it looked like a very nice gem, but all that can be said about it at that stage is “it is a red transparent stone”.  The parcel was reported to have come from the Luc Yen mines in Vietnam, a source of exceptional rubies and spinel.

The first step is to determine if it is actually ruby. A minute or so with the refractometer revealed an RI of 1.762 to 1.77, as expected for corundum. It’s birefringent nature was verified under the polariscope, with a lovely uniaxial figure. No more testing needed here, it’s clearly corundum.

Next is to look under magnification. Under a 10x loupe, the gem is remarkably clean, there are no inclusions to be seen at all. This is either an exceptional natural ruby, in the order of $10,000 per carat, or it is a synthetic worth tens of dollars per carat. One point of note is that the girdle was not polished and many of the crown facets were misaligned. Generally I would expect a top value ruby to also have excellent facets and finish.

fig1: Misaligned facets on the crown

Under higher magnification, 30x, the gem was still essentially flawless. However, under diffuse lighting curved colour banding could be clearly seen.  Curves simply don’t appear in natural corundum, but are a common feature of synthetic gems made with the flame fusion process.

These photos were taken with a Canon DSLR and 100mm macro lens.  The ruby is 6.5mm in circumference and the optics are pushed to their limits to get an image at about 25x magnification.  Nevertheless, the features are clear enough to be made out, though they are much more obvious under a microscope.  The white spots are just specs of dust on the surface.

fig2: Diffused light shows curved colour banding

At this point there is no doubt it is synthetic ruby. A very nice gem, but worth maybe $30 at most.


A Diamond Story

The Request

Some people have a firm idea about the sort of ring they want, others, not so much. It is always nice to be able to find gemstones and design jewelry to match request, but it is just as pleasing to be given the trust to ‘make something beautiful, but I don’t want to spend too much’. So that what the brief – something truly beautiful and unique, for less than 7,500 Euro.

Mission accepted!

Finding the Diamond

It took three weeks, but it was worth it. We considered a number of round brilliants, from VS to VVS1 and G to I colour, all beautiful stones, and any one of them would have looked great in the right setting. And then we found this:

Emerald cut diamond 1.01ct angle view Emerald cut diamond 1.01ct front view

A 1.01 carat emerald cut, F colour, and, amazingly IF – internally flawless. We could hardly believe it, but the certificate doesn’t lie.

Emerald diamond cut IF GIA certificate

There really is something special about an IF stone that separates it from mere VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds. There shouldn’t be, right? VVS1 inclusion can barely be seen at 10x magnification, let alone with the naked eye, let alone from a few feet distance. Yet, when you see this stone, it immediately stands out out something very special. And the more you look at it, the more special it becomes.

Designing the Setting

The next question is what setting would best grace such a gorgeous diamond. A gemstone like this really speaks for itself, it doesn’t need any embellishment. Several designs were considered, and. like us, the customer prefered a simpler setting with an elegant, thin band.

Diamond ring custom design emerald cut

After the wax was made, there were a couple of small adjustments. We reduced the number of side stones by four, and thickened the width slightly for better durability.

The Result

And this is how it turned out:

Yes, we said ‘wow’ too.

Did we succeed?  Let’s see:

  • Beautiful – customer says a resounding “YES!”
  • Unique – A very rare IF emerald cut diamond in a one-off designed ring, that is also a “yes”
  • Less than €7,500 – after shipping and insurance, there was change of €130.

Most importantly though, the customer absolutely loved it.  A very satisfying result.

Mission accomplished!

Gold Sheen Sapphire Price Update April 2018

This update for Gold Sheen Sapphire pricing uses sales price point data from Tucson, Hong Kong and Bangkok exhibitions, as well as shop front sales from January to April 2018.

Gold Sheen Sapphire Price History 1st Half 2018

Prices have increased for all grades, most notably for grade 1 and 2. Increased pricing was a result of strong interest from Japanese buyers, which flowed over to grade 2 pricing as well. Grade three pricing was a more general result of broad buyer interest.  Most notably highest quality pieces reached $1,000 per carat – a significant milestone for Gold Sheen Sapphire.

If you would like information about how to invest in Gold Sheen Sapphire you can visit our wholesale page: or email


Exquisite Sapphire Ring

Making beautiful jewelry from top grade gemstones is always a great pleasure.  We recently had a long time customer request for a sapphire ring from a stone that had previously been set in a pendant.

Sapphire Pendant 3.5ct
Original sapphire in pendant.

This is a 3.54ct Ceylon sapphire that I bought in Sri Lanka a few years ago.  The customer requested if it could be made into a ring.  Originally it was set with white sapphire, but the customer request was to use diamond.

After a couple of design drafts, this is the design that was settled on, option ‘B’:

Sapphire ring design options.
Sapphire ring design options.


Consequently, this was the finished product:

Absolutely gorgeous.

And from the customer: “It is a perfect fit and I am the envy of the office. It is absolutely beautiful. Thank you!!”

Thank you Yin, thrilled that you love it and it was a pleasure to make it for you.