The marketing of Australian sapphires has for most of it's history been
handled by agents and interests outside Australia, to the detriment of
As far back as 1902, Mr B Dunstans (Government Geologist) reportedly
quoted from a letter written by a firm of lapidaries in Geneva " Fine
sapphires, equal to those from Burma have been found amongst the Australian
gemstones. Most of these are sent to Germany by dealers, where they are sorted.
The best gems are afterwards sold separately under another name, and the
inferior lots sold as Australian". This misrepresentation still continues
Today buyers from Thailand are a major consumer of Australia's sapphire
production. Invariable the better grade is processed in the Thai cutting
factories and sold on as stone from Thailand , Burma or Sri Lanka. Only the
lowest grades are sold as Australian.
This has to be seen as a deliberate ploy
to undermine the value of Australian sapphires and to perpetuate a widely held
but false perception about Australian stones. To even further misrepresent the
quality of Australian sapphire the budget jewellery market has witnessed very
low grade stones sold as Australian Midnight Blue. These stones do not
come from Australia. The most likely source is Vietnam or China.
Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka are still widely perceived as major sources
of Sapphire. The truth is that most of the commercial deposits in these
countries have been depleted for years and stone that is sold as coming from
these sources is really renamed material for other countries with Australia
and Madagascar being the most probable sources of the better quality material.
Recent years have seen Australian producers start to take a more active
role in the marketing and promotion of the quality Sapphires that they produce.
This site is just part of the effort to correct the misrepresentations of the
past and strive to provide a true picture of the quality of sapphires produced
In 2002/03, miners have witnessed an almost complete boycott of Australian
rough sapphire by the Thai buyer. The boycott is in retaliation against efforts by some of the
Australian producers to achieve viable prices that will
at least cover the increased costs of mining the rough sapphire.
This approach by the Thai buyers is very short sighted. If
it continues it will cause a cessation of large scale sapphire mining in
Australia. There is no point in producing sapphire if the mining costs
are not covered.
The longer term consequences of this could well be that the only large
scale sapphire mining will be from the lower quality deposits of Africa and China.
Once the Thai's have exhausted their stockpiles of quality rough where will the quality sapphire come from ?
Will the Australian sapphire boycott remain in place ?