SARO-Gem Jewellery Watch Co., Bettlach, Switzerland, has found a new use for synthetic sapphire in watches. SARO, which stands for Sapphire Round Over, uses synthetic colorless sapphire not only as the crystal over the dial but also as an overlay on the bracelet itself, making the entire watch scratch resistant. (Sapphire rates 9 on the Mohs’ hardness scale.)
In a process called physical vapor deposition (PVD), transparent sapphire plates are coated with particles of white or yellow gold, palladium, or a pigment (sapphire blue, emerald green, ruby red, aubergine, or black). The sapphire plates overlay the stainless-steel bracelet, with the coating toward the bracelet. A typical men’s watch has up to 100 cts. of synthetic sapphire, while the women’s version sports approximately 45 cts.
“Since all our watches are handmade in Switzerland, we have the ability to customize each watch at the time of manufacturing,” says Gerard Diffiné, executive vice president, North American sales. “For instance, if the customer wishes the entire outer edge of the dial face to contain diamonds, we can easily achieve this.”
To boost consumer confidence, the International Gemological Institute will certify the identification of these crystals. The IGI certificate is a standard jewelry report that includes an assessment of each watch and contains a description of individual and total sapphire and diamond carat weight, cut, finish, proportions, clarity, color, as well as content and weight of precious metals. An enlarged color photograph is included with each certificate.
“We chose IGI to certify our watches because of the very nature of the extensive sapphire content and the quality of diamonds we use,” says Diffiné. “We also seek to give our customers the added value of an independent company certifying the watch contains what we say it does, and also to give the customer an appraised value of the watch for insurance purposes. With the large amount of counterfeit watches being dumped in the market, we think it is important to our clients to have this assurance.”