Sapphires have been the embodiment of elegance, brilliance, and beauty for centuries. As one of the renowned four precious stones, sapphires offer a wide variety of colors and qualities to choose from, not to mention the versatility of sapphire jewelry.
Sapphire engagement rings are timeless statements of classic elegance, and beautiful blue sapphires make for irreplaceable accessories.
Because sapphires vary so widely in their quality and color, understanding the history and formation of natural sapphires is essential in choosing the right gem for you.
Ancient civilizations like the Romans and Greeks started mining and trading sapphires centuries ago and deemed them highly valuable. These societies believed that sapphires possessed godly qualities and could connect them with their deities. Furthermore, sapphires were thought to bring protection and peace to those who possessed them.
Natural sapphires and other colored gemstones were incorporated into various aspects of these people’s lives, including their sculptures, pottery, and religious rituals. Sapphires were even used to make tools such as axes.
It wasn’t until the 1800s that sapphires were considered precious gemstones that could be used to make extraordinary sapphire jewelry. The first commercially mined sapphires were Kashmir sapphires, which were the first jewelry-grade supply to the international demand for these colored stones.
Pakistan, China, Madagascar, India, Australia, the U.S., and Columbia are just some of the world’s major miners of natural sapphires. However, Sri Lanka currently supplies the most sapphires in the international market.
Sri Lanka is often referred to as “Gem Island” because of the vast amount of metamorphic rocks containing precious gems found in this country. Although it is a relatively small country, an estimated 25% of Sri Lanka is covered with these rocks. Of the total amount of gems mined in this country, sapphires constitute more than 50%. Not only does this country hold a significant amount of sapphires, but some of the best quality sapphires in the world in terms of size, clarity, and color are also found in this region.
Many kilometers below the ground, molten magma is running, bubbling and slowly cooling continuously. When the magma cools, oxygen and aluminum molecules bond to yield exceptionally hard crystals. These crystals are called corundum.
Corundum is involved in the formation of many different rocks. Every so often, corundum forms big crystals we know to be rubies and sapphires.
The varying colors of sapphires occur as a result of trace amounts of minerals infiltrating into the crystals to form mineral corundum. The amount and type of minerals determine the color of the sapphire. For example, titanium results in blue sapphires, and iron makes yellow sapphires.
People typically think of blue sapphires when they hear the word “sapphire.” Although most sapphires are blue, there are many sapphires of other beautiful colors to explore.
Blue sapphires dominate because magma very often contains trace amounts of titanium, which results in blue corundum. Occasionally, a different element infiltrates the corundum and provides us with the fancy sapphires listed below.
Pink sapphire is widely appreciated for its feminine appearance. These sapphires range from baby pink to dark magenta but nevertheless remain one of the most appealing sapphires for a romantic feature such as an engagement ring.
Green sapphires are one of the most exquisite of all the fancy sapphires. Their colors range from forest green to mint green. Green sapphires are symbolic of tranquility and life, and they truly are something to behold.
Purple sapphire is the result of both titanium and chromium infiltrating the same corundum. They can be anything from violet to a dark tone of purple.
Padparadscha sapphire is a combination of orange, pink, and yellow. The colors mix entirely in most of these rare sapphires, but sometimes, they only mix partially, and each color remains separate from the other. Padparadscha sapphire is remarkably majestic and striking
These sapphires occur in light and dark shades of champagne and convey a sort of modernized beauty, suitable for any skin tone and making for a beautiful sapphire engagement ring.
The most popular shade of yellow sapphire is one that radiates a light, cheerful, and positive hue. However, these sapphires can also be darker and resemble an orange shade.
Of all the shades and tone sapphires come in, they could never be red. If chromium enters a corundum crystal and colors it red, it is called a ruby instead of a sapphire. Thus red sapphires are, in actuality, rubies and not sapphires. “Ruber” means red in Latin. Rubies make up one of the four precious stones as they are appreciated for their value and beauty.
Color is a critical attribute to a sapphire’s appearance and captivating nature. When assessing the color of a sapphire, there are three chief qualities to consider: tone, hue, and saturation.
The saturation of a sapphire refers to the amount of color in the colored stone. The more vibrant the gem, the more color it contains, and the higher the saturation will be.
A sapphire’s tone refers to the darkness or lightness of the natural stone. Tone and saturation should not be confused. Where saturation refers to the opacity of a sapphire, its tone describes how dark or light the color of the sapphire is. For example, a blue sapphire could possess a high saturation with a medium tone. This would mean that the color of the blue sapphire is strong, but the blue color is actually of a mild vibrancy. Likewise, a blue sapphire could have medium-dark tones with low saturation.
A sapphire’s hue refers directly to the sapphire’s color. Blue sapphires are typically the most desirable of all the varieties.
Regardless of the color, all sapphires are created from the mineral corundum, but the infiltration of foreign elements gives a valuable gemstone its specific hue.
Blue sapphires are the most loved of all sapphires due to their extremely vibrant and stunning color and their aesthetic compatibility with diamonds and white gold.
The deep blue hue often seen in blue sapphires can only be achieved in treated sapphires. Heat brings forward the vibrancy and unique color of the stone. Diffusion treatment is another sapphire treatment that is almost exclusively administered to blue sapphires and involves the application of a thin layer of color over the superficial surface of the sapphire to illuminate its existing color immensely.
When you evaluate a sapphire’s color, view it from all angles. You may notice that with some less expensive sapphires, pleochroism is visible from some angles. For example, when a blue sapphire may exhibits pleochroism, it may appear grey from one angle and greenish-blue from another.
Another variant of sapphire colors that was excluded in the color list above is white sapphires. As white sapphires do not technically have a color, it felt appropriate not to include it above.
During the formation of sapphire, the corundum crystals may not have been infiltrated by any elements, leaving it essentially colorless. Although extremely rare, they are still more affordable than colored sapphires. This may be because they so closely resemble diamonds, which would often be the preferred option between the two.
Beyond color, certain fancy sapphires have interesting characteristics worth exploring.
One such example is the Parti sapphire. Parti means multi or duality. Parti sapphires are the result of zoning. Zoning occurs when the elements responsible for the color change in sapphires occupy distinct zones of the sapphire, leading to a two-zoned gem. Such sapphires will have more than one color to appreciate.
Furthermore, a star sapphire displays a certain star-like appearance referred to as asterism. This star-like effect is achieved by intersecting the stone with needle-like inclusions. A six or three-pointed star will appear on the surface of the sapphire.
The stars are frequently a few shades lighter than the stone itself, making it quite prominent. As a result, sapphires demonstrating these symmetrical, visible inclusions are often very expensive and highly cherished.
Another high-quality sapphire that is incredibly sought after is the Padparadscha sapphire mentioned previously. Because of its extreme rarity, these sapphires could cost up to $20 000 per carat weight.
Sapphires typically have visible inclusions. These inclusions are completely normal and natural, and sapphires without them will be very rare and extremely expensive.
Most sapphires have inclusions called needles. These needles appear as tiny fine lines running through the inside of the sapphire. Interestingly, when a stone lacks these visible inclusions, gemologists commonly assume that the sapphire is an imitation.
Inclusion in most gemstones, like diamonds, is a negative characteristic, and they are assessed with a magnifying lens to identify any potential inclusions. In contrast, sapphires are simply assessed to be eye clean, meaning there aren’t any inclusions visible to the naked eye.
There are a few things to take into account when deciding on a cut for your sapphire. A well-cut sapphire will be cut in such a way that displays the brilliance of the stone to pour through. View your sapphire in the light to be able to explore the symmetry of the cut and the different facets of the stone.
If a sapphire isn’t cut symmetrically, it won’t reflect light as well as it could have, had it been cut with adequate precision. As there are countless ways to cut a sapphire, be sure to purchase a cut that suits the effect you want to bring across.
Gem cutters frequently cut a sapphire deeper when it inherently has a lighter tone to give it a deeper, darker effect. In contrast, when a stone has a naturally dark tone, a cutter would administer a shallow cut to invite the light in and illuminate the whole sapphire.
The most common sapphire cuts include round, cushion, oval, and emerald cuts. The cabochon cut is also a popular polished and non-faceted option. This shape enhances the exquisite nature of a beautiful oval sapphire with a convex dome. It is often used to exalt the appearance of the asterism of a star sapphire.
Sapphires are naturally heavier stones. Consequently, a sapphire of the same carat weight as a diamond would be smaller than its diamond equivalent. Their increased weight is due to their high density. A one-carat sapphire is typically around 6mm in total size.
A larger sapphire inevitably has a larger number of carats, making it more expensive. Because of their high density, sapphires are more practically measured in size than carats.
It is important to note that lab-created, or synthetic sapphires, are by no means fake. They are just as real as any natural sapphire. Synthetic sapphires are simply created in the controlled environment of a laboratory, but the same steps that would occur over millions of years in nature are followed.
The chemical makeup of natural and synthetic sapphires are identical. The major difference is that natural stones will likely contain stains and flaws, whereas synthetic sapphires are created to be flawless.
Many vendors attempt convincing people that a synthetic sapphire is not, in fact, a real sapphire. This statement is entirely false. Both are equally authentic; they simply differ in origin.
Synthetic sapphires are more affordable than natural stones, making them an ideal option for people on a budget.
Sapphire jewelry was a strong symbol of wealth and royalty in previous decades. Today, sapphires still convey a message of class and elegance. Sapphires have been used to make earrings, necklaces, bracelets, pendants, tiaras, and almost any other jewelry you could think of. In addition, sapphires are a beautiful option for engagement rings as opposed to the traditional diamond engagement ring.
Nothing conveyed romance like a classic blue sapphire. The intense vibrancy of royal blue is sure to make a statement and turn heads. Gorgeous blue sapphires have been seen on the ring fingers of countless royals and celebrities. However, you don’t have to have any sort of status to pursue a sapphire engagement ring.
Sapphire pair exceptionally well with other stones like diamonds and add elegance to your hand regardless of the size. The bold and unique nature of a blue sapphire challenges societal conventions in the most exciting way.
Given the number of options of cut, color, and design you have, your engagement ring is guaranteed to reflect your individuality and the effort on your part to design the perfect sapphire ring.
Blue diamonds often resemble blue sapphires very closely. They both provide the exquisite light reflection so often desired in a gemstone. The primary differences between the two involve their cost and rarity. Blue diamonds are rarer and more expensive than blue sapphires to a great extent.
Although both are equally beautiful, your choice would mainly depend on what you are willing to spend on your jewelry.
Blue sapphire is frequently used in conjunction with platinum or white gold as it further emphasizes the liveliness of the stone. The cool effects of these metals really exalt the allure of blue sapphire.
Blue sapphires can be incorporated into a variety of bracelets and pendants, transforming an otherwise average item into an unquestionably irreplaceable piece.
If you are a lover of vintage-style jewelry, a blue sapphire paired with yellow or rose gold will give you the classic look you’re looking for.
The price of sapphire can vary widely based on numerous factors. For example, a blue sapphire could cost anything from $450 to $1600 per carat, depending on the quality.
The four C’s, namely color, cut, clarity, and carat, are the major determining factors for the price of a sapphire. Nevertheless, a rich blue sapphire remains at the top of the price bar.
Synthetic sapphires will inevitably go for less than one that has been mined naturally because it is rarer and considered to be more precious.
Kashmir sapphires are especially costly due to their rarity and overall quality. Sapphires mined in Burma and Ceylon are believed to be of similar quality to those mined in the Himalayas, but it still does not quite reach the same standard.
One of the Kashmir sapphire characteristics is that it appears almost blue velvet. This pure blue color is incredibly sought after and therefore more expensive than its alternatives.
We can merely provide you with a rough estimate of the price of blue sapphires. The lowest price of a one-carat blue sapphire will be around $150, with its highest price being $21 000. The most affordable price for a two-carat blue sapphire will be approximately $400, and its highest price will be $27 000. For a three-carat blue sapphire, the lowest amount you would pay is $630, with the highest price being $75 000.
Evidently, the price depends largely on the quality, but appropriately priced blue sapphires are available for any budget. The stone you choose will be priced individually as there is no standard due to the high distinction between the qualities of each sapphire.
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