Most people tend to think that sapphire only comes in blue, a view that’s strengthened because almost all of the most famous sapphires are blue – think Kate Middleton’s sapphire engagement ring. However, sapphires come in a range of colors, each varying in formation, value and availability.
Sapphire is corundum, a hard, tough and valuable mineral variety that comes in a range of colors from white to black. Sapphire acquires its various colors when there is a certain type and amount of foreign element present in the corundum during its formation process, including chromium, iron, and titanium.
The most popular color of sapphire, this variety of the stone has been valued for millennia. Corundum takes on a blue hue when there are iron and titanium traces in the mineral. However, most blue sapphires on the market are heat treated to enhance their color.
This variety of sapphires is growing increasingly popular and is valued for its bright citrine-like color, caused when there are elements of iron in the corundum. Yellow sapphires are an excellent alternative to yellow diamonds as they’re much more affordable.
When trace elements of chromium are present, corundum takes on a pink to purple hue. Pink sapphires come in a range of shades, from faint pink to vivid, deep shades and are perfect if you’re after an unusual pop of color for your jewelry.
White sapphire ring by Jamie Park Jewelry. See it here.
When there are no foreign elements, corundum in its natural state is colorless. Also known as white sapphire, colorless corundum is quite rare but very affordable. It’s an excellent alternative to diamonds but they often don’t have the same depth of brilliance.
Black sapphire ring by Breeze Studio Co. See it here.
As black gemstones become more popular, black sapphires have been increasing in popularity. Most black sapphires come from Australia and are formed when there is an excess of impurities in the corundum. These stones are similar to black diamonds but are much more affordable, because they’re traditionally considered to be of lower quality.
Green sapphires are caused by the presence of iron and is one of the more unusual sapphire varieties. While it’s not a common variety, green sapphires are affordable. Its shades range from faint lime greens to deep vivid forest greens.
Why Is There No Red Sapphire?
The fact that there is no red sapphire comes down to nomenclature. Sapphires that exhibit red hues are called rubies, created when there is chromium present. These stones are equally valuable and highly sought after as blue sapphires. While every other type of corundum is classified as a sapphire, it’s only red corundum that doesn’t fit into this category.
The boundary between sapphire and ruby, then, is pink because pink is viewed as a lighter shade of red. There can be some dispute over this boundary, and there is no consensus over the difference between a pink sapphire and a ruby.
Rare Sapphire Colors and Varieties
This is one of the most expensive varieties of sapphire, known for its beautiful peach-orange color. Padparadscha sapphires can be very pricey and hard to find. Here’s an example of a stunning padparadscha gemstone.
Parti means dual or multi, referring to the two colors that this type of sapphire often gives off. This often happens because of how the sapphire has been cut, creating what’s known as zoning. Parti sapphires are rare and are highly sought-after.
Star sapphire refers to stones that exhibit asterism, a star-like shape that forms across the surface of the stone due to the needle-like inclusions within it. Star sapphires are typically cut en cabochon, as this makes the star image clear and uninterrupted.
Why Is Sapphire Color Important?
When buying a sapphire, the most important factor of the stone is its color. Look for rich, vivid sapphires that have saturation for a vibrant stone. Ideally, you want a stone with a medium tone, that’s neither too faint in its color nor too dark.
It’s also important to check the clarity of the gemstone and ensure that there are no unsightly impurities and inclusions that can mar its appearance.
Sapphires are highly durable gemstones, ranking 9 on the Mohs scale. They’re second only to diamonds when it comes to natural gemstones used for jewelry. This makes them perfect for jewelry, especially engagement rings, but it’s important to maintain and offer reasonable care to ensure that your sapphire jewelry lasts a long time.
With all the sapphire colors available, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Because of their hardness and affordability, all types of sapphires make for excellent alternatives to more expensive gemstones of similar hues. Whether you’re looking or a diamond alternative, a Kate Middleton style engagement ring or an edgy black gemstone, sapphire has something to offer you.