ENGAGEMENT RING

Sapphire Engagement Rings – A Buying Guide

Blue sapphire rings

As Wedding Know How editors, we write about things that we love and we think you'll like too. We have affiliate partnerships and sponsorship and may generate some revenue from these at no cost to you.

Sapphires are one of the most beautiful and valuable gemstones on Earth and they have been used in the jewelry world for millennia. These gorgeous stones fit perfectly for all kinds of jewelry, including engagement rings.

With their durability, beauty and relative affordability, sapphires are a great choice for engagement rings. Here’s a look at sapphire engagement ring and whether it’s the right choice for you.

What is Sapphire?

Sapphire halo engagement ring

A custom designed sapphire engagement ring. See it here.

Sapphire is one of the most valuable gemstones in jewelry and the most precious blue gemstones. Not only is it a beautiful stone, but it also has excellent durability and hardness, as well as luster and color.

In terms of hardness, sapphire is at an exceptional 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, very close to diamond which sits at 10/10. This makes it especially suitable for rings that get in contact with surfaces and clothes more often than other jewelry pieces and need more durable gemstones and materials.

Sapphire is very similar to the ruby, another very valuable precious gemstone. Both are varieties of the mineral Corundum and their color is the only main difference between them with the ruby being red. In fact, while sapphire is traditionally blue, it also comes in many other colors. All non-red varieties of Corundum are technically called sapphires, whether they are green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, white or colorless. The royal blue variation is the most sought-after, however while the red variety is known as ruby.

While sapphires are mined in many regions around the world, some of the best sapphire gemstones come from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, China and Madagascar.

Why are Sapphire Engagement Rings So Popular?

Replica of Diana's blue sapphire engagement ring

Ring design inspired by Princess Diana’s sapphire engagement ring. See it here.

There are many different reasons why sapphire engagement rings are so popular. The sheer quality, durability, color, and luster are very significant in that regard, as is the prestige that comes with a sapphire engagement ring.

Another factor is just how well the royal blue of sapphire gemstones fits with white and silvery metals such as platinum and white gold. The white and blue gives a contemporary, clean and sleek look, ideal for modern brides.

And, of course, there’s also the celebrity factor – more and more popular Hollywood or music celebrities, as well as royal figures are seen with sapphire rings nowadays which further drives the gemstone’s popularity to new highs. Influential figures such as Kate Middleton, Victoria Beckham, Elizabeth Hurley, Penelope Cruz, or even Elizabeth Taylor back in the day – they and many others like them have made sapphire even more popular throughout the last several decades than it already was.

But the woman credited for the interest in blue sapphire engagement rings is of course, Princess Diana who famously chose a large sapphire ring out of a range of royal jewels.

The 4Cs of Sapphires

Blue sapphire loose

See more sapphires here

When choosing a sapphire, it’s important to understand its quality factors and how to evaluate the stone. As with any other precious gemstones, the most important qualities of sapphires are summarized by their “4Cs” – carat weight, cut, clarity, and color.

Carat weight

Like with any other gemstone, the value and price per carat of sapphires increase with the overall carat weight. There are especially steep increases at the one, three, five, and ten-carat levels. Aside from that, the exact value, as well as the rarity of higher carat-size stones, depends on the stone’s color. For example, large yellow sapphires are relatively common while padparadscha sapphires are extremely rare and expensive.

Cut

The “cut” of gemstones refers to how the particular stone has been cut, faceted, and finished. It also relates to the overall proportions and style of each individual gemstone. With sapphires meant for engagement rings, cutters go choose similar shapes as those used for diamonds – round, oval, cushion, and princess cut being exceedingly popular. Other than that, cutters tend to aim at maximizing the color of the gem, as well as its final weight, while also minimizing the visible presence of any inclusions and other problems within the stone.

Common sapphire cuts include round, emerald, cushion, princess and oval. While the cuts are similar to diamond cuts, the purpose differs. With diamonds, the aim is to emphasize the sparkle while with sapphires the aim is to bring out the stone’s color.

Clarity

The clarity of a gemstone like the sapphire depends on how many inclusions there are in it, how big they are, and what type they are.

There are many trace minerals in every sapphire stone and that’s not typically a problem. However, as the sapphire stones slowly form in the Earth’s crust they are often subjected to various external forces and elements which can cause unwanted additions and impurities to the stone. These affect the gemstone’s clarity and make it less desirable.

When cutters work with sapphire stones they aim to minimize the presence of such inclusions and to shape the stone in such a way that they are less noticeable and impactful on the overall beauty of the stone.

Color

We already mentioned that sapphires can come in a myriad of colors however the “quality of color” is much more subjective than how clear or heavy a gemstone is. To evaluate the color of a sapphire, it’s important to consider the hue, saturation and tone of the stone.

padparadscha sapphire ring

Padparadscha sapphire ring by Aardvark Jewellery. See it here.

  • Hue refers to the color of the sapphire. Sapphires come in a range of colors, from pink to yellow. Some popular sapphire varieties include green, yellow, pink and green. There are also more unique types of sapphires like the padparadscha, which is a peach-salmon colored sapphire which is extremely rare. Star sapphire is another type that asterism, also known as a star-like effect across the surface of the stone.
  • Saturation refers to how intense the color is. Vivid colors give a beautiful look to the stone and also add value, whereas clear, less vivid stones are less expensive and not as sought after.
  • Tone refers to how light or dark the stone is and whether the color is vibrant or not. A sapphire gemstone could have intense coloring (saturation) but very light color (tone).  

The ideal type of sapphire stone would be one that has a vivid, even blue color.

Sapphire Engagement Ring Styles

With a lot of jewelers offering bespoke jewelry and custom designs, you can have your sapphire ring designed to suit your exact preferences and style. Still, there are a few styles of sapphire engagement rings that have stood the test of time and have been exceedingly popular throughout the years:

Sapphire Eternity Bands for Wedding Rings

Sapphires are popular for more than just engagement rings – they also suit eternity bands like this Riviera Pave sapphire & diamond eternity ring or this Luna sapphire & diamond eternity ring. For this, smaller sapphires are placed all around the band to create an eternal loop. Unlike diamond eternity bands, using sapphires adds color and makes the ring unique.

Diamond sapphire eternity band

Alternating sapphire and diamond wedding band. See it here.

You can also opt to alternate the sapphire with diamonds, for a more balanced look. Diamonds add sparkle to sapphires and accentuate their color.

Budget Friendly Options for Sapphires

High quality sapphires don’t come cheap, but you can get the look for a fraction of the cost with some of the following options:

  1. Synthetic Sapphire: These are lab-created options that look like the real thing and are the real thing, except that they were created using science and technology rather than natural elements in the earth’s crust. Lab-grown sapphires are much less expensive than natural sapphires but have all the same benefits and are made of the same stuff (corundum). We recommend this option as the best alternative to buying a natural sapphire.
  2. Fake Sapphires: fake, imitation or simulant sapphires refers to non-corundum materials that look like sapphire. These can include blue cubic zirconia, glass or plastic among others. This is the cheapest and least valuable option but will still give you a sapphire-looking engagement ring.
  3. Other Blue Gemstones – There are some stunning blue gemstones that look very similar to sapphire but have their own properties and characteristics.
Blue tanzanite ring

Three stone tanzanite ring by Mauli Jewels. See it here.

One such stone is tanzanite, that has a royal blue that can rival the color of even the best sapphires. Although much rarer and more unique than sapphires, tanzanite is less expensive making it our favorite gemstone alternative to sapphire.

How to Clean and Maintain a Sapphire Engagement Ring

Sapphire wedding rings

Sapphire rings do need to be cleaned regularly because you don’t want dirt and dust to build up in the stone’s settings and gradually scratch and wear it. To clean your ring you can simply use warm soapy water and a soft piece of cloth.

As for your ring’s maintenance – always take your ring off when you’re about to engage in a physical activity as you don’t want your precious sapphire gemstone hitting other hard surfaces regardless of how durable and hard the stone itself is. Solitaire set sapphires can snag on clothes or everyday objects, which can damage the stone. Also, it’s always a good idea to take off your engagement ring when going swimming or dealing with chemicals, like detergents and household chemicals.

When storing your sapphire ring, it’s best to store it in a separate box or compartment and not together with other pieces of jewelry or to at least carefully wrap it in a piece of cloth. This is done as much for protecting the sapphire as for the protection of your other jewelry pieces which the hard sapphire can easily scratch.

The Symbolism of Sapphire Gemstones

Often called a “royal gemstone”, sapphire is also viewed as a celestial stone and a stone of wisdom. Many cultures believed that sapphires also have prophetical powers and could grand their wearer divine favor.

On rings, talismans, and pendants alike, sapphires have been thought to preserve chastity, as well as protect the wearer from treachery and fraud or any type of black magic and curses. In pretty much every culture that’s been familiar with this gemstone, sapphires have been one of if not the most valued and treasured gemstone.

Today, sapphires are believed to represent loyalty, trust, truth, love and commitment, all perfect traits for a relationship.

Should You Buy A Sapphire Engagement Ring?

Sapphire engagement rings are beautiful and durable, perfect for daily wear and to stand out from the crowd. They’re the most popular gemstone for engagement rings after diamonds and ideal if you want something a little different.

If you’re looking for a traditional diamond ring, though, a sapphire ring might not satisfy you. Consider what you want from your ring and what you want it to express as that will help you choose.