Sable are actually marten – the finest, most luxurious and expensive marten.
The best sable comes from the Barguzin Valley in Russia and is denser and silkier than Canadian sable, while Chinese and Japanese sable are the lowest in quality. Most sable are wild and protected in preserves, although some have been and are ranched. However, Russia has strictly controlled the sale of breeding stock.
The Russian government has a monopoly on sable. V/O Sojuzpushnina, a Russian trade organization, holds fur auctions in January, July and October, at which sables (and other furs) are auctioned. The proceeds go to the government. This system is little different from the system in czarist times when a good portion of the imperial family’s income came from the sale of sable, except that the royal family sold sable only to other crowned heads. The finest sable, Barguzin sable, was reserved for the czar and his family’s use, which is why it’s called crown or imperial sable.
Prime sable is deeply furred with even, silvery-tipped guard hairs, making it silkier than mink. The color is a rich brown with a blue cast. Golden sable, which is a reddish or amber color, is less expensive. All sable, nevertheless, is very expensive – but as warm and light in weight as it is heavy in price.