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What Colour are Sapphires?

Sapphires are blue…yellow…pink…green…orange…

Sapphire which is considered one of the big three gemstones (along with emerald and ruby), traditionally is thought to be blue by most people. In reality, sapphire is available in every colour of the rainbow.

Various colours of sapphires

Exquisite examples of sapphire are truly amazing gemstones for their vibrant colour and brilliance.

Is Sapphire a Birthstone?

Sapphire is the traditional gemstone for the month of September. In fact, sapphire has been known, faceted, and worn for thousands of years. It is even mentioned in the Old Testament.

How Do I Know if the Sapphire is a Good Quality?

Firstly, the sapphire should be bright and relatively free of inclusions or flaws to the crystal. These inclusions can make the gemstone appear almost milky or cloudy, or just one large inclusion that is very visible. The colour should also be even across the entire gemstone. Often, sapphires can have colour zoning. This is a situation where the colour may show in bands of nice colour and almost colourless. If oriented properly, colour zoning may not be a significant issue.

When deciding on a good sapphire, colour is a major factor in the cost. The problem is that colour is difficult to describe. If someone told you to go to Home Depot to pick up some blue paint, once you get to the paint aisle, you suddenly see a thousand shades of blue.

Colour is Described by a few Characteristics

  • The hue: Meaning what colour, blue, red, or any other colour.
  • The saturation: This means in the simplest way, is it a light pastel, or a vivid shade of a specific hue.
  • The tone: Is the background so dark, that it is almost black or maybe even grey.

While there are personal preferences, the sapphires that command the highest prices, have a pure hue that is saturated to be a vivid colour and neutral to a slightly darker tone.

Three sapphires showing tone and hue difference

The number of times a client has been in the store thinking that a dark blue, almost black, sapphire is high quality, has been too often. This is due to a misunderstanding. The best is a dark blue that is not black. Or is the color a different colour, the same holds true.

I Hear that Ruby is a Red Sapphire

You would be close. Ruby and sapphire are from the gem family known as corundum. Corundum in its purest form is colourless but when trace minerals are present, the gemstone will show a color. Chromium will cause corundum to be red and thus a ruby. If the corundum is red but has no chromium, then it is possible to have a red sapphire.

Are Sapphires Durable Enough for an Engagement Ring?

Sapphires are excellent for their for their durability which makes them a great choice for an engagement ring. In fact, they are less prone to chipping and diamonds. And yes, diamonds are harder, but their hardness is not a measure of durability. Hands down, sapphires can be used in any piece of jewellery and last forever.

What Sapphire Colour is most Expensive?

That is a tough question. Some colours such as the blush pinkish orange, known as Padparadcha are very rare and command high prices. The blues with a colour referred to as a Kashmir command very high prices as well. For most people, the fine blues seem to be the most expensive, but a lot of coloured gemstone dealers may argue that point.

At the moment, a strong trend has been Montana sapphires. While Montana does produce a number of sapphires and in all ranges of colour, the trend is to be a greenish blue color. They are available from Montana but most likely come from other locations such as west Africa and refer to the colour.

Three stone engagement ring set with Montana sapphires

Are the Sapphires I see Natural?

The vast majority of sapphires a customer will see, large or small, are likely heat treated, natural, mined sapphires. Heat treatment is a process used to improve the color of the crystal. It is permanent. Fine coloured natural and untreated sapphires are rare and far higher in price. There are other treatments that I am not fond of, such as diffusion treated, but that is a discussion for another time.

And yes, there are man made sapphires. They have been made for over a hundred years. they are made in numerous colours and sizes. The gemological properties are almost identical to natural sapphires but cost a fraction of the price of natural mined sapphires.

What is Your Favorite Colour of Sapphire?

I love greens and blues but have to say that my favorite is a blue that is slightly less saturated than a vivid colour, with no tone but has to be very well cut and polished as well as very little zoning. When I see one of these sapphires I am always amazed. Enough even to consider putting one in my wedding ring….coming soon!

Two engagement rings set with blue sapphires