Sapphires are considered precious gemstones because of their rarity and intense colors. If you’re new to gemstones then you probably think Sapphires only come in blue but that is not the case. Fancy Sapphires come in a rainbow of colors and intensities which make them highly collectable. As you’ll see from the photos below some of the fancy colored stones will rival the traditional blue Sapphire everyone knows and loves.
Just to set the record straight, a Sapphire is a blue variety of corundum and the red variety is Ruby. There are no fancy colored Rubies but there are fancy colored Sapphires. From time to time people will confuse a fancy pink Sapphire with a Ruby and a lighter-colored Ruby can be misidentified as a fancy Pink Sapphire.
Types of Sapphire
Aside from the blue Sapphire and Ruby, the Corundum family also includes “Fancy Sapphires.” Fancy Sapphires come in yellow, orange, pink, violet, green, purple, and intermediate hues. There are also incredible “Parti-Colored” Sapphire gems that show combinations of different colors.
Some stones display the phenomenon known as color change, often going from blue in the daylight or fluorescent lighting to purple under an incandescent light.
Blue Sapphires can be pure blue but range from greenish blue to violetish blue. Again, while the name Sapphire typically refers to the blue variety, it also applies to any type of Corundum that isn’t red and does not qualify as a Ruby. The image above does a great job in portraying the variety of hues you will see when identifying and purchasing Sapphires.
Which stone draws your attention instantly? Is it the Madagascar variety or maybe the Burma? It’s like the color of blue is almost glowing.
Yellow Sapphires can range from greenish-yellow to orangish-yellow, with everything in between. The most preferred yellow Sapphire hue is a medium, vibrant, canary yellow. These beautiful medium-bright gems are less expensive than fancy yellow diamonds and are sometimes used as a substitute.
White Sapphires are any gem-quality Corundum that is colorless or white. While blue Sapphires are the most popular and expensive, white Sapphires have been gaining popularity and are becoming a beautiful alternative to Diamonds for engagement ring gems.
There is material being sourced which is white corundum but when the gem dealers heat it or irradiate it, it will turn a light to medium blue.
Padparadscha Sapphires are among the rarest Sapphires. These incredibly rare gemstones are unknown to many, but once they’re discovered, they typically become an immediate favorite.
Padparadscha Sapphires are strikingly stunning, and almost no other colored stone compares to the unique blend of pinks and oranges.
The term “Padparadscha” derives from the Sinhalese word for the aquatic lotus blossom that displays a unique salmon color. Some stones will straddle the color boundaries between orange and pink while others will display color zoning (pink and yellow).
Orange Sapphire ranges from light pastel orange to vivid orangish-red colors due to its blend of red and yellow hues. This type of Sapphire is colored by a combination of Chromium (red) and Iron (yellow) trace minerals or from exposure to natural radiation.
One characteristic you’ll want to keep in mind is an orange Sapphire derived from natural radiation can fade on exposure to intense daylight or heat. So what does this mean? If you wear the jewelry on a regular basis your stones will eventually fade to a clear or slightly tinted orange color.
In their natural state, Green Sapphires range from light yellow-green to medium yellowish-green hues, which are considered olive or leaf greens.
This is a color that doesn’t get a ton of attention because the general public doesn’t care for green stones. Other than Jade, the market for green gemstones is fairly small which makes these stones difficult to sell and source.
There are quite a few better alternatives like Emeralds, Chrome Tourmaline, and Tsavorite Garnet.
Parti Sapphires, or Partis, are also known as bi-color Sapphires. This type of Sapphire has two or more distinct colors within a single stone. The colors range from blues and greens to pinks and yellows; you might even find orange and purple hues. The unique color combinations give Parti Sapphires a striking, eye-catching appearance.
It’s essential to recognize that Parti Sapphires are not color-change gemstones. Color-change stones change color in different types of lighting, while Parti gems remain the same dual colors regardless of the lighting.
One of the reasons Parti Sapphires are so highly desirable is that they show two or more colors (naturally) in the same stone, in any lighting or direction. Cutters or lapidarys orient the stone to create the most pleasing and appealing results, which are usually the best when there is the use of two or three colors.
What is also interesting is that you’ll never see the same combination twice (not the amount or placement of the colors) because nature blends the colors differently each and every time, making every specimen unique.
All two-colored Partis are somewhat rare, while three-color variants of the subset are even more incredibly infrequent.
Black Sapphires are an aluminum oxide mineral that typically forms in crystals. These stones range from translucent to opaque, but they don’t reflect much light in either situation. If you look closely you’ll notice the color ranges from blue-black to gray.
You’ll most likely see these cut into cabochons and the banding you see in the one above is the crystal structure. From time to time you’ll see some with asterism or what we call a “star sapphire“.
Best Type of Sapphire For Your Collection
It has to be the Padparadscha Sapphire because of its rarity, value, and amazing color. If you’ve never seen one in person then you don’t know what you’re missing. I’d go as far as saying you should buy a 3 to 5-carat stone for an engagement ring and skip the diamond. The real jewelry lovers and gemstone enthusiasts will appreciate the high-quality stone and so will your loved ones.