Sapphires: Beautiful Beyond Blue
Sapphire is often considered to be synonymous with the color blue: you can easily picture sapphire seas. However, sapphire is beautiful beyond blue, in every color but red, because red is called ruby.
The other colors of sapphire can be just as beautiful and rare – or even rarer – than the blue but they are usually
priced less. Yellow, orange, lavender, and other pastel shades are especially affordable.
Since our ancestors did not realize that ruby and sapphire are actually the same mineral, they left us with a dilemma: where should pink shades be classified? Long ago, people decided to call all gemstones of the mineral corundum as sapphire, except the red color, which was called ruby. But pink is really just light red. The International Colored Gemstone Association has passed a resolution that the light shades of the red hue should be included in the category ruby since it was too difficult to legislate where red ended and pink began. In practice, pink shades are now known either as pink ruby or pink sapphire. Either way, these gems are among the most beautiful of the corundum family.
The most valuable other fancy sapphire is a orange-pink or pinkish-orange called “padparadscha” after the lotus blossom. Padparadscha sapphires are very rare and the exact definition has always been a matter of debate: different dealers and different laboratories around the world disagree on the exact color described by this term. Some dealers even argue that the term should not be limited to the pastel shades of Sri Lankan sapphires but should also include the more fiery shades of reddish-orange from the Umba Valley in Tanzania.
Padparadscha sapphires sell at a premium, nearing the price for a fine blue sapphire. Although the exact description is debated, the beauty of these rare gemstones is not, with their delicate blended shades the color of fresh salmon and sunsets. Other very popular shades of fancy sapphires are yellows, bright oranges, lavender and purples, and a bluish green color.
Generally, the more clear and vivid the color, the more valuable the fancy sapphire. If the color is in the pastel range, the clarity should be good: because in lighter tones inclusions are more noticeable, the trade usually prefers the gemstones to be cleaner with fewer visible inclusions. In a lighter colored gemstone, the cut is also more important: it should reflect light back evenly across the face of the stone, making it lively and brilliant. With darker more intense colors, the cut is not as critical because the color creates its own impact.
No matter what the color, sapphires combine durability and beauty for generations of pleasure.