Fine Gems International, Helena, Mont., has launched what it is calling its “Montana Blues” campaign to promote the beauty of Montana blue sapphire—America’s only sapphire, the company said in a statement.
The campaign kicked off with a design competition held last summer by the Montana-Wyoming Jewelers Association. Although a category for jewelry featuring Montana sapphire had been in the planning stages for two years, it became a reality in 2002 when Robert Kane, the founder and president of Fine Gems International, decided to offer designers the chance to work with Montana blue sapphire exclusively.
Colorado Springs designer Paul Reilly, whose 14k pendant took first prize in the sapphire category, took advantage of the opportunity, as did 19 of his peers. Indeed, once designing with Montana blue sapphire became an option, this category became the most popular in the competition.
In the past, enthusiasm for Montana blue sapphire was confined mostly to their home state—thanks to its status as the Montana state gem as well as local pride and growing tourist awareness.
But Kane says aesthetic, economic and gemological factors are contributing to quickly widening demand for Montana blue sapphire.
“For years, consumers have been used to seeing predominantly inky-blue, overly dark sapphire from Australia and Thailand in jewelry stores,” he explains. “But with the surge in production of Montana stones in recent years, they are being shown sapphires with lighter tones and greater brilliance.”
Gemology is also bound to play a role in this decision. Montana blue sapphires, like nearly all blue sapphires, owe their beauty to heat treatment. “But the fact that Montana blues are heated without the use of controversial chemicals used by some treaters leaves them free from suspicion and the threat of future scandal,” says Kane.
Fine Gems International has the world’s largest stock of Montana sapphire—thanks to its 2001 acquisition of the entire inventory of American Gem Corporation, which mined at Rock Creek, Montana’s richest alluvial sapphire deposit, in the mid-1990s. Blue to green-blue are the most predominant colors in this large selection of sapphire.
For further information on blue and fancy color Montana sapphire, contact Bob Kane at Fine Gems International: 1-800-436-7687 or firstname.lastname@example.org.