It was around 2019 when Carl Larson picked up his first piece of Yogo Montana Sapphire jewelry. The loose-gemstone dealer, one of the principals at Pala International, met an estate jewelry vendor who had a beautiful horseshoe brooch with Yogo Sapphires and seed Pearls, among other items. Larson didn’t meet up with the merchant to buy finished jewelry—he was trying to buy loose stones out of old pieces—but when pricing negotiations failed, he couldn’t resist bringing home that brooch. That was the start of his now 24-piece vintage Yogo Sapphire jewelry collection.
“I started this purely on a whim of loving one piece, which grew into a collection,” Larson explains. “As a gem dealer I had knowledge of the material but never really purchased jewelry to keep or invest in. This piece was so wonderful I decided I had to keep it.”
Besides the lovely cornflower blue color of many Yogos, Larson was also drawn to their distinct appearance—even color, lack of color zoning, and fairly inclusion free, according to Gem-A. Plus, their quality as cut stones is greater because of their high luster and brilliance, and Yogos can also be found in shades of violet or purple.
And though it can be difficult to distinguish Sapphires from other global deposits because of how physically similar they are, that’s not the case with Yogos. They are igneous (formed by the solidification of magma), not metamorphic (changed by pressure, heat, and water). There’s also a notable lack of silk—long, thin, intersecting inclusions of the mineral rutile, says GIA—in Yogo material.
Interestingly, Larson’s love of the gems found in Montana in the late 1800s along the shores of the Missouri River doesn’t extend a great deal to offerings at his business. Pala International’s inventory of Yogo Sapphires is minimal, though Larson has a few favorite loose gems in his private stash. And while he started collecting Yogo Sapphire gems and jewels for their beauty and relative affordability, the latter is changing as they grow in popularity.
“I love my pieces, but unfortunately everyone has bills to pay,” he says. “Since the collection ultimately belongs to Pala International, my long-term goal is to find it a passionate collector client. Then I can start a new collection, maybe in a different origin or gem type.”
For now, he’ll keep collecting. At press time, he had three more jewels headed his way for inspection and a possible purchase, courtesy of a post he made on social media. The tricky part, which he experienced in his first acquisition, is the negotiation. He learned from a friend that the pieces en route were offered in another online forum for 25% less than the owner is now offering him.
“That’s the negative side,” he notes. “People find out you’re interested in something and try to charge you more.”
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