The Journey of the Gem


For millennia, humans have been drawn to the mysterious allure of sapphires. No two are alike and each is full of surprises! At Utopian Creations we specialize in Australian sapphires, with a dazzling rainbow selection from subtle pastels to bright blues. Our passion for this precious stone is lit due to its unique beauty and one-of-a-kind character.

By sourcing our gemstones close to their origin, we can guarantee that the environment is being cared for and miners have safe working conditions and fair compensation. Not only does this create a positive impact on local communities but it also allows us to share stories about the wonderful people behind these precious gems. These heartwarming tales of individual journeys from deep in the earth towards a future filled with love bring joy both to those who discover them as well as those giving them away - making an everlasting mark across many generations.

Australian sapphires are generally found in ancient river or creek beds. The depth of these can vary significantly, most being buried millions of years ago. Depending on the depth of the sapphires a number of different mining techniques can be used.

Hand tools and specking

This technique requires the sapphires to be very close to the surface. Specking is the most basic form of collecting sapphires and isnt actually a form of mining. Its simply walking around picking them up off the surface, generally after heavy rain has washed away the top soil. As simple as this sounds it can be very successful. Hand tools are generally a pick, spade and a sieve. There are many ingenious devices that can separate dirt and rock faster than a sieve that may still be used in conjunction with a pick and spade. In most cases this form of mining in Australia will be carried out at 1-2 meters depth. There are many fossicking areas open to the public (after a small fee has been paid for a fossickers licence) where anyone can give it a go. Its hard work digging into river gravel and brings a great appreciation of the work done by miners in the past.

Shaft Mining

As the name suggests a shaft is dug to the depth of the sapphire bearing material which could be 15 meters deep. Since the 70's this has been done with a huge truck based drilling rig. Once the depth has been established jackhammers and hand tools are used to dig into the wall, following the ancient river bed. Some miners have even disassembled small ride on diggers and reassembled them underground to increase the volume of rock they can remove.

Open Cut

This form of mining is the rarest on the Australian sapphire fields as it requires large machinery. The topsoil is removed and stored for later rehabilitation, then the miners dig down with bulldozers searching for the sapphire bearing layer. Once found they carefully follow its path, sorting most of the soil and rock onsite. Its a high cost game, but it can provide huge volumes of sapphire.

Australian sapphire crystals found close to their place of creation often possess their native crystal shape, known as a dogtooth. However if the crystals have spent significant time in rivers or creeks they may have a more smooth, rounded appearance.

Once mined most sapphires are passed to a gem cutter who's job it is to bring the gemstone to life. Gem cutters are artists, craftspeople with a very accurate eye for detail. Before cutting some sapphires may be picked out for heat treating. These are normally gems that have a lot of rutile inside them. Rutile is another crystal that can grown inside the sapphire crystal and can cause the sapphire to look overly dark and unappealing. Heat treating can dissolve the rutile in much the same way as nature did back when the gems were created in lava flows. If heat treating is to occur its normally the gem cutters keen eye that makes the decision and carries out the procedure. Heat treatment of Australian sapphires is rare as most dont require it. In some parts of the world like Sri Lanka and Montana in the USA its a routine procedure carried out to about 95% of all sapphires mined. When cutting the gemstones simple but very precise tools are used that have not changed significantly inhundreds of years. They use a spinning disk covered in different grades of diamond dust and an arm that holds the gemstone on specific angles set by the gem cutter. There are many standard patterns that are used, the patten chosen will generally be determined by the shape of the rough gemstone. 

Art meets Science

Once cut the Sapphire is ready to be reintroduced to the world. Most traditional faceting patterns have been designed to focus photons of light. Photons that have been created in the center of a star, our Sun take about 100,000 years to reach the Suns surface then only 8 minutes to travel to the table or top of the gemstone, through the crystal, bounce off the pavilion facets and back up through the crystal, out the crown to the viewers eye. 

View Our Sapphire Collection