Sapphires are becoming increasingly popular lately, even becoming a favorable choice for an engagement ring! Their meteoric rise is for a lot of reasons. They are a bit more unique and personable than diamonds. Sapphires are also durable and known for their bright, vivid color. But what if you want something different? Are sapphires only the rich royal blue that you picture? We've checked with several gemologists for all the colors that sapphires can come in.
While royal blue sapphires are typically the most desirable and valuable, sapphires come in basically all colors. The color changes due to trace amounts of minerals in the stone. The possible colors include:
Keep reading to learn more about all these colors. What color is the rarest? What color is the most valuable? Plus, you may notice that red didn't make the list - is there a red sapphire? Keep reading to find out!
What Are The Different Colors of Sapphires?
For a little technical background, sapphires belong to a family of gems called corundum. Corundums come in a variety of colors. These include yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, green, and black. There is even a colorless version called a white sapphire or leukosapphire.
Most people think of sapphires as a deep, rich blue. Because this is the traditional color, these are simply called sapphires. The more unusual colors are referred to with the specific color. For example, yellow sapphire or green sapphire. And fun fact: corundum also comes in red. However, red corundum is more commonly called - yup, that's right - a ruby.
What Color Are Natural Sapphires?
If you are trying to figure out if a sapphire is real or synthetic, then the color won't be of much use. Sapphires exist, naturally, in basically every color - though, as we said above, a red corundum would actually be called a ruby.
A better indication is scratching. Sapphires are a very hard gemstone. They are next to diamonds as the hardest gem out there. They have a hardness rating of 9 on the Mohs scale, harder than glass or even cubic zirconia.
If the gem has a lot of scratches, then it is probably not a natural sapphire. They just are not that easily scratched. You can also try to scratch it yourself with a coin. This is another indication - a real sapphire will never be scratched by a coin. It's most likely made from a material like glass.
Or, try looking closer with a magnifying glass. If the stone has suspiciously perfect clarity, that's a clue that it's lab-created. Real gems always have some imperfections and flaws. Another way to tell is by looking at the growth lines. They are straight in a natural sapphire. If the lines curve, it's synthetic.
Why Do Sapphires Come In Different Colors?
The chemical composition of the stone changes the color. Corundum is, in its purest form, the element Al203. If it is truly pure, this creates a colorless gem or leukosapphire.
But often, other things get tossed into the fray. Traces of elements like iron, titanium, and copper are common. These elements can come and go as the stone forms. The amount that these are present will affect the color. This is also the same reason why diamonds are occasionally blue (boron) or yellow (nitrogen).
What Is The Rarest Sapphire Color?
Blue is the traditional color for a sapphire. The other colors are referred to as fancy sapphires - but there is one that is the fanciest of all!
The rarest color is a unique gem. It is called a Padparadscha sapphire. These very rare, collectible gems are a pink-orange color. Some people refer to it as salmon. The word Padparadscha actually comes from Sanskrit, meaning lotus blossom.
The majority of these stones come from Sri Lanka. They also come from places like Madagascar, but the Sri Lanka gems are more valuable. Extra chromium and iron are responsible for their lovely hue. Here's an example of what this stone looks like:
What Is The Most Expensive Sapphire Color?
Of course, a rare sapphire is also a valuable one. For this reason, the Padparadscha sapphires described above are worth a pretty penny. They are expensive for a second reason as well. Because of their light color, any inclusions are very noticeable. This means that the stones that have made it through a jeweler are very high in clarity. This is another factor that drives up the overall value.
But traditional sapphires, in blue, are valuable as well. Blue sapphires can also be a larger carat size, therefore costing more. Meanwhile, Padparadscha sapphires are rarely over two carats.
The most prized sapphires have a strong, vivid color saturation. Less desirable sapphires are a grayish color. On the other hand, the best ones are closest to a pure, royal blue.
What Shade Of Blue Is Sapphire?
Sapphires come in a wide range of blues. Royal, deep blue is usually the most desirable. Sapphire can come in lighter or darker colors, but the value decreases.
Another valuable shade for sapphire is cornflower blue. These are also known as Kashmir sapphires because of the area in Burma that they are found.
However, this is a bit harder to categorize. What one expert considers cornflower blue may not be the same as another. There is a universal understanding of the royal blue color of sapphire. Just about everyone can picture it.
It's also worth noting that the cut of the gem can change the color - a lot! The color of the sapphire is dichroic. This means it changes based on the angle you look at. Naturally, this, of course, also means that the angle that you cut sapphire at is very imp0rtant. A skilled cutter always aims to cut the stone in a way that shows off the most vivid, deep blue.
Most people think of sapphire as a rich, vibrant royal blue gem. This is the most traditional color. It's also the most sought after. However, sapphire is available in basically every color. This includes yellow, orange, pink, purple, black and a colorless stone called leukosapphire or white sapphire.
Red sapphires get another name - rubies! The color changes due to the chemical composition. White sapphires are pure Al203. However, traces of elements like iron, titanium, or copper are usually present. This leads to the variety of colors.
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