Sapphire - The Most
Popular Colored Gemstone
Sapphire has long been associated with Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka and India.
It is also found in Australia, Africa, Cambodia, Brazil, and in the United States. The
most highly prized Sapphire is the cornflower blue stone from Kashmir. The
original source for these sapphires have been depleted and Kashmir sapphires are almost never
seen in today’s market.
The classical sources of quality sapphires have been the Mogok Stone Tract in
Upper Burma and the gem fields of Sri Lanka. Burmese
and Ceylon sapphires get premium price. Heating colorless and very pale blue sapphires to high temperatures is
often done to
give them an intense blue color. This treatment can also improve the clarity of the stones by
removing tiny inclusions.
Sapphires and rubies are closely related. They both trace their lineage to
corundum. The iron pigment in the corundum makes sapphire blue, while the chrome
element in rubies makes them red. Corundum gemstones are the second hardest of
the most precious of gemstones.
Sapphires are identical in every attribute to ruby, except for one key
component - their color. Sapphires are found in an assortment of colors that range the entire spectrum.
Sapphires are broadly divided into two groups:
Sapphires - Blue sapphires only.
Fancy Sapphires - Sapphires of all other colors.
The word sapphire, stated without a prefix, implies blue sapphires only.
Sapphires of all other colors are assigned a color prefix (e.g. pink sapphires, yellow sapphires,
purple sapphires etc.) or are collectively termed “Fancy Sapphires.”
This is the most popular color of the sapphire family. Sapphire comes in
a wide range of blue colors. With the exception of the very rare padparadscha
sapphires, blue sapphires are the most desirable and expensive of the entire sapphire family.
The blues in sapphire can range from light pastel blues at one end to the midnight blue
at the other end. The most prized and beautiful blue sapphire colors
sit in the middle of the blue-color range. The rare and captivating cornflower blues offer
captivating beauty with an unbeatable color.
Sapphires that combine the three colors of pink, purple and orange in one gem
can resemble the famed and beautiful lotus flower known to the Ceylonese
(modern day Sri Lanka) as “padparadsha”.
Padparadsha sapphires are so rare and beautiful that they are highly prized and valued by
Padparadsha Sapphires are the most expensive of all fancy sapphires. The
prices can reach many thousands of dollars per Carat. Padparadsha Sapphire jewelry has become
extremely popular in recent times. (See also the
Pink Sapphires have colors that range from pastel pink shades to
that approaching the hot pinks. Pink sapphires are often used with blue sapphires to make
interesting jewelry displaying bright, colorful but harmonious
contrasts within a single piece of jewelry.
The colors in yellow sapphire range from pleasing butter like colors to intensely beautiful
canary yellows. Yellow sapphires are frequently found in large crystal sizes.
Purple sapphires display rich purple-pink colors reminiscent of orchids. They
are prized by collectors.
Green sapphires display a range of green hues, from olive green through to wine bottle
like greens. Green sapphires are the least demanded of the sapphire family.
Star sapphires are coveted for their beautiful and mysterious optical effects.
These sapphires have tiny inclusions of rutile needles. They exhibit an
optical property called asterism.
When viewed in light these exhibit a beautiful star shaped effect. Star
sapphires usually have six ray stars, but twelve ray stars are also known. The stars
are seen silently gliding across the gemstone’s surface. Star
sapphires have traditionally been the most popular of all star gemstones.
Color Change Sapphires
A rare variety of sapphire, known as color changing sapphire, exhibits
different colors in different light. A color change sapphire is blue in natural light, and violet in
artificial light. A similar effect is also seen in alexandrite.
These sapphires sometimes appear identical to the rare, costly and beautiful
padparadscha sapphires. They are created by the addition of a catalyst at extremely high
temperatures. They are sometimes referred to as "diffusion sapphires."
Regardless of their color origin, these gems exhibit rare and beautiful
colors similar to the padparadsha lotus flowers, with pinks, purples and oranges radiating from the
body of a single jewel.
Intense medium dark blue is the most sought after color for Blue Sapphires.
However, very fine Sapphires are extremely rare. Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Burma produce very fine
pure Blue Sapphires. Cambodian Sapphires are sometimes slightly dark. Australian
Sapphires tend to have green overtones and concentric hexagonal bands.
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