How to Choose the Right Sapphire

Blue Sapphire is traditionally the birthstone for September, but did you know that sapphire comes in other colors besides blue? There are yellow sapphires, pink sapphires and even green sapphires that are ideal for setting in jewelry because of their fortitude. Each color also has its own symbology and meaning. In this post we will show you how to buy a high-quality sapphire, the meaning behind different colors and explain the properties behind these wonderful gemstones.

Properties

Their fanciful colors and durability make sapphires an excellent choice for jewelry. Sapphires are the second hardest natural mineral after diamonds and score a 9.0 on the Mohs scale of hardness.

With the exception of red, sapphires can be almost any color, including yellow, green, colorless, pink, orange, brown, purple and the famous blue. Sapphire colors other than blue are referred to as fancy colors. The rarest and most valuable sapphire color is a coral orange-pink of the Padparadscha sapphire. Purple, colorless, and color-changing sapphires are also rare.

Like diamonds, sapphires can also be fluorescent. Blue sapphires usually have no fluorescence but colorless sapphires sometimes have an orange or purple fluorescence.

Cabochon cut sapphires that are domes shaped sometimes exhibit a property called asterism in which tiny stands of minerals reflect light in a star shaped pattern. In natural sapphires, the star moves as the position of the sapphire changes. In artificial Linde star sapphires, the star does not move.

Sapphires and Rubies

Sapphires and rubies consist of the same mineral—corundum. The difference between the two is color attributed to impurities on an atomic level. Only red corundum is considered a ruby, everything else is a sapphire. This explains why sapphire is available in so many colors and why you will never find a red sapphire.

Since they are so closely related, the two gems are usually found together, although one gem will usually dominate the mine. Sapphires tend to be cleaner than rubies, when it comes to clarity.

How to Choose High Quality Sapphire

Choosing a sapphire with a color that is rich yet pure requires a keen eye and knowledge of where the sapphire in question came from.

When selecting a blue sapphire (or any sapphire, really) pay attention to the color tone. Is the sapphire a dark midnight blue or a light sky blue? The most ideal shade of blue is cornflower blue and it is neither too dark nor too light. You should also observe if there are any secondary colors, called tints, present. Some tints, such as purple or violet can give a blue sapphire a velvet rich color, but only if the tint contributes less than 15% to the overall color. Other tints, such as green are always unfavorable for blue sapphires.

Sapphire Treatments

Only 1% of sapphires used in jewelry require no treatment and demand exorbitant prices. Most sapphires, no matter what color, must endure being heated to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 degrees Celsius)  for several hours to bring out the stone’s best color and improve clarity.

All treatments that a gemstone receives must be disclosed at the point of sale since some treatments are not permanent and require special care.

Heat treatment is considered routine and stable because it mimics how sapphires receive rich colors in nature. The process is permanent and irreversible and since only quality sapphires can endure the heat, it eliminates lower quality stones. Heat treatments that involve beryllium (such as beryllium diffusion, deep diffusion, or  lattice diffusion)  create a shallow subsurface of color and are not permanent. As a result beryllium treated sapphires are worth less than heat treated sapphires.

Where do Sapphires Come From?

Sapphires come from so many countries, including Tanzania, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Australia, Madagascar and even the United States. At one point, all of these places where connected billions of years ago. The closest you can get to this ancient geological source is Sri Lanka, which is the principle reason that so many fine quality sapphires in every color are found there. Sapphires from Sri Lanka (which are also referred to as Ceylon sapphires) are also larger because the stones weren’t broken up as the continent they were on traveled.

Most prized sapphires are from the Kashmir region of India, due to their rich velvety blue color. Unfortunately the mines in Kashmir were depleted long ago making Kashmir sapphires very rare and expensive. Burmese sapphires are also of very fine quality, but they are rare as well.

Sapphires from different parts of the globe can be worth more or less depending on their place of origin. If you find yourself lucky enough to get your hands on a Kashmir or Burmese sapphire, you should ask for a verification of the origin from the AGTA or other respected gemstone certification agency.

Meaning

Alright, so you already know that sapphires are excellent for jewelry and what to watch out when buying one, but what about the meaning behind the stone. What do you want your sapphire to express?

Blue Sapphires

Blue is a color that is often associated with water and feelings of tranquility and harmony. That meaning is especially relevant when it comes to blue sapphires. An blue sapphire engagement ring is ideal if your relationship is based on mutual understanding, reliability, loyalty and composure–qualities that matter in the long-term. Relationships that are centered around intense passion and excitement are better off with a fiery ruby.

Yellow Sapphires

Yellow sapphires are associated with the planet Jupiter and all the qualities that Jupiter represents. Jupiter is the ruling planet of wisdom, power, wealth, knowledge and status. Yellow sapphires are especially useful for leaders and those engaged in business. The stones are also said to shower the wearer with money and give you the mental clarity to trust what you know to make your decisions.

Pink Sapphires

A pink sapphire can help you if you are unlucky in love. Besides helping a wearer overcome shyness, it can help a person forget the hurt from past relationships and move on. The innocence that the pink sapphire also brings joyful play to relationships and give a person the stability to love others.

White Sapphires

White sapphires act like little personal assistants. They allow the wearer to treat themselves with kindness and take better care of themselves. A white sapphire can also help you sort out your personal affairs by helping you tackle your problems systematically.

Padparadscha Sapphires

Since the color of the Padparadscha sapphire is said to be a balance between the tranquil lotus and a serene orange sunset, this very rare sapphire gives the wearer the power to become more aware of their inner peace. The person wearing the stone is able to see the truth and beauty in every situation and is given true knowledge for making their decisions.

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