Montana Sapphires Part Two

Montana Sapphires Part Two

After six months of anticipation, I am now the proud of owner of 11 stunning Montana Sapphires. You may have read the first part of this story back in April. Since it’s been many months, let me catch you up.

At the end of March I ordered a “Mega Jug” of sapphire gravel from Gem Mountain in Montana. I sifted through the 9 lbs of gravel using a homemade sieve and make-shift water trough, eventually uncovering over 160 carats of rough sapphire gemstones. I returned the 19 largest rough stones to Gem Mountain to determine if any were gem quality and worthy of cutting. Eleven of the stones passed for gem quality, while eight were rejected for being too flawed.

On April 12th I gave the verbal go-ahead and paid Gem Mountain $279.00 to have the 11 rough stones (weighing a total of 20.48 carats) heat treated, faceted and eventually transformed into jewelry worthy gems. The women on the phone taking my credit card said expect 6-9 months for my finished gems to be returned. A few days later in the mail I received the 8 rejected rough stones along with my receipt.

Instructions on the receipt said “Be Patient. Heat-treating and faceting takes time.” Also, it was explained that there is no guarantee what color or size the final gems will be. Heat-treating improves the color of most stones and the final gem may weigh approximately 20% the weight of the original rough stone. In other words, if you have a rough sapphire that weighs 1.00ct, expect the final faceted gem to weigh approx. 0.20ct.

Fast forward six months and on Monday October 10th, I received the call I had been waiting for. A representative from Philipsburg, Montana said my sapphires were complete and they wanted to verify my shipping address before putting the stones in the mail. Since the gems were all packaged up, the woman was only able to tell me I had round, pear shape and princess cuts. The rest of the details I would know when I received my box of gems, hopefully before the week’s end. So exciting! I had no idea what shape, size or color I was going to be unwrapping. It was Christmas in October!

The wait is finally over. On Thursday October 13th the gems arrived via USPS in a padded priority mail envelope. Inside was a blue box with a red ribbon. The stones were all wrapped in silver tissue paper. Each gem was secured in an individual plastic bag with handwritten details on the outside including: quantity, carat weight, shape and measurements.

I had sent off 11 rough sapphires weighing 20.48 carats and received back 11 faceted sapphires weighing 5.21ct. total, yielding 25.4% of the original weight. This seemed pretty notable considering Gem Mountain set expectations at 20% of the original rough weight.

The finished gems included 2 pear shapes, 6 rounds and 3 princess cuts:

Pear ShapesRoundsPrincess Cuts



I am currently unsure what to do with all eleven exquisite Montana sapphires. If you have any ideas, I’m open to jewelry design suggestions. For now, I’ll be holding onto the faceted gems and the remaining rough sapphires until I have a moment of inspiration.

You don’t have to be a gem geek to enjoy “mining” Montana sapphires. If you’re interested in uncovering your very own treasure, check out Gem Mountain. It’s a great activity for adults, children and families.


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