No gemstone is as commonly associated with the color blue as sapphires. In fact, “sapphire” itself is another word for “blue.” The gemstone’s vivid color has intrigued people worldwide for decades. Before Prince William’s engagement to the now Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, back in 2010 when he asked for her hand in marriage with the late Lady Diana’s initially controversial but now iconic blue sapphire engagement ring from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), the demand for sapphire rings has reached unprecedented heights. According to Google, search results for “sapphire engagement rings” were up 115 percent in 2017, and the trend continues to this day.
Sapphires have long been a symbol of royalty, power, and sophistication. However, did you know blue is just one of its many colors? Read on to learn about the different colors of sapphires and understand why this gem appeals unequivocally to both the younger and older generations.
Why Are Sapphires Blue?
Darker, more saturated blue sapphires are among the most valuable gemstones in the world. As with diamonds, the 4 Cs (color, cut, clarity, carat weight) impact the brilliance of sapphires. The cut characteristic, in particular, is of higher priority in a sapphire than in a diamond, as it affects the stone’s shade of blue.
Sapphires are dichroic stones, meaning their color varies depending on the angle you view them from. Lapidarists perform meticulous precision and accuracy when cutting, shaping, and polishing this stone to deliver the desired tone.
What Are the Different Sapphire Colors?
The shades of sapphire are seemingly endless. Let’s begin our breakdown with the most popular variant:
- Blue Sapphires
According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), blue sapphires are the ideal gemstone for 45th wedding anniversary jewelry. Blue sapphire mines are in many locations throughout the world, and different environments produce unique attributes. For instance, mines in Sri Lanka and India produce some of the clearest cornflower blue sapphires.
Blue sapphires alone come in several shades. Some of the most popular include:
- Cornflower blue sapphire: Named after a flower native to European countries, cornflower is a medium blue mixed with a hint of green.
- Teal sapphire: These sapphires either contain more iron than a true blue sapphire, which gives them a greener appearance, or exhibit green-blue pleochroism (color-changing).
- Ice blue sapphire: Pale and frosty, these gems feature a subtle hint of blue. Due to their lack of vibrance, they are not as valuable as cornflower blue sapphires. Regardless, they are well-loved for their beauty and Mohs scale hardness.
- White Sapphires
The majority of white sapphires on the market have been lab-created or heat-treated to eliminate any subtle color, as natural white sapphires are rare. Symbolizing purity, happiness, and mental clarity, these gemstones make excellent alternatives to diamonds for engagement rings due to their lower cost. They do not exhibit as much brilliance and clarity compared to diamonds, but a white sapphire’s differences from a genuine diamond are indiscernible to untrained eyes, which makes them perfect accent stones alongside more colorful gems.
- Orange Sapphires
Orange sapphires bring an eye-catching pop of color and intensity to any jewelry collection, but they are incredibly rare. Their vibrant hue is the result of two elements: chromium for reddish hues and iron for yellow. If you are looking to add orange sapphires to your collection, keep in mind that almost all of them have had heat treatments.
- Green Sapphires
From calming mint to deep forest green, this fancy sapphire is an excellent emerald alternative that’s as durable and with less inclusions. If you long to add a unique and beautiful green gem to your collection without breaking the bank, a green sapphire engagement ring or eternity ring is a sound investment.
- Yellow Sapphires
Wearing yellow sapphire jewelry is, in a sense, almost like having a mini version of the sun within your grasp. Bright canary is the most sought-after shade of yellow sapphires. Iron present in the corundum is the reason for this gemstone’s captivating yellow color. It is a worthwhile choice for rings, necklaces, and other jewelry pieces.
- Pink Sapphires
Pink sapphires are popular for their romantic hues and representation of love. Madagascar’s abundant pink sapphire deposits offer a range of shades, from pretty pastels to bold flamingo pink. Each shade holds a unique level of beauty and desirability.
- Purple Sapphires
Because most purple sapphires fall into the red zone on the color spectrum, they are frequently mistaken for Oriental amethysts. Though they have similar-looking hues, purple sapphires boast greater brilliance and durability than amethysts. These precious gems also command higher prices due to their rarity. Purple sapphires fall between blue and yellow on a scale from least to most valuable.
- Brown Sapphires
Rich and warm, brown sapphires are a magnificent alternative to chocolate diamonds. However, despite their unique hues, these gemstones are the least valuable of all sapphire colors. Cognac sapphires, near-flawless variations, and those that exhibit asterism (a star-shaped concentration of refracted or reflected light) are of higher value.
- Color-Changing Sapphires
Sapphires with strong pleochroism appear in different colors depending on the environment’s lighting condition. For example, many sapphires shift from blue to purple, and a few exceptional sapphires change colors dramatically – from gray or greenish-blue in natural daylight or fluorescent lighting, to reddish-brown in incandescent light.
- Black Sapphires
Black sapphires get their mysterious, inky hue from inclusions that obscure light from refracting from the stone. Unless a black sapphire exhibits asterism, these stones perfect for a goth queen or king are less valuable compared to their more colorful counterparts.
The one exception to the rule is the black star sapphire. The magnificent Midnight Star sapphire, which is a 116.75-carat gemstone of Sri Lankan origin, is one of the most prized varieties. It has such a deep purple color that it appears black, unless placed in a well-lit room.
What’s the Best Sapphire Color?
Blue sapphires may lead in popularity, but the best sapphire color is up to you and your personal preferences. Choose one based on your personality, beliefs, favorite color, or budget.
As GIA-certified professionals, Biltmore Loan and Jewelry understands sapphire’s appeal, value, and role as an economical alternative to diamonds. If you are looking to cash in your investment, we have a reputation for being trusted sapphire jewelry buyers in Scottsdale and Chandler, AZ. Visit us today or complete our appraisal form to sell your sapphire jewelry.