By Elsa Navarrete, Co-founder of Covett
When someone mentions sapphire, odds are you immediately think of Lady Di's gorgeous Blue sapphire, or maybe the blue heart of the sea, but most likely you will relate the colour blue with sapphire.
Let me dispel this somewhat limited reference. The major fancy sapphire colour categories are padparadscha, pink and purple, orange and yellow, green, colourless and black but not red. (That is a ruby and we will get into that in another newsletter.) And let's not forget colourless sapphire aka a white sapphire which was considered the diamonds poor third cousin but that has become so rare that it's value has gone through the roof.
Colour has the greatest influence on a sapphire’s value, and preferred sapphires have strong to vivid colour saturation. The most valued blue sapphires are velvety blue to violetish blue, in medium to medium-dark tones. Sapphires with these qualities command the highest prices per carat. Less valuable blue sapphires might also be greyish, too light, or too dark.
An extremely rare and collectible variety that is a mix of pink and orange is known in the trade as padparadscha. Such gems typically have a high value—much higher than many other types of fancy sapphires. Their colour can be hard to describe. Some people say padparadscha sapphire colours should be called salmon or sunset. But the word padparadscha itself derives from the Sanskrit language and refers to the rich colour of a lotus blossom.
Pink and Purple Sapphires
Pink sapphires range from light red (pink) to light purple with weak to intense colour saturation which fall out of the colour ranges for ruby or purple sapphire. Purple sapphires always have purple as the dominant colour. They range from medium to dark reddish purple to violet purple with weak to vivid colour saturation.
Yellow to Orange Sapphires
Yellow sapphire is also available in a variety colour saturations from yellow to orangy yellow and in light to dark tones, while orange sapphires have deep golden, to mandarin, and deep orange colors.
Yellow sapphires may be affected by other colors within the same gem and can range from light to dark greenish yellow to orangy yellow with weak to intense color saturation. The finest yellow sapphire is yellow to orangy yellow with vivid saturation.
Orange sapphires range from yellowish orange to reddish orange. The finest orange sapphires are strong, pure orange to red-orange with medium tone and vivid saturation.
Commercial-grade sapphires may contain a less desirable greenish blue colour or strong greenish blue that is visible as you view the gem. Uniformly green sapphires that are saturated in colour are actually rare and many collectors prize them.
Our Weekly Obsession Brand: Eva Gems & Jewels, uses sapphires in many of their pieces. Below are three in our Covett Subscription Vault, show the variety in the colours available:
Most Famous Blue Sapphires
The most famous royal sapphire today is the engagement ring given by England’s Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. It features a 12-carat oval blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds.
French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte gave to his beloved wife Josephine a two stone sapphire and diamond engagement ring in 1796.
The Star of Bombay is a 182-carat (36.4-g) cabochon-cut star sapphire originating from Sri Lanka. The violet-blue gem was given to silent film actress Mary Pickford by her husband, Douglas Fairbanks. She bequeathed it to the Smithsonian Institution. It is the namesake of the popular alcoholic beverage Bombay Sapphire, a British-manufactured gin.
The Logan Sapphire is a flawless specimen from Sri Lanka, a cushion-cut stone which possesses a rich deep blue color and is the second largest (blue) sapphire known, weighing 422.99 carats (84.6 g).
The stone, roughly the size of an egg, is one of the world’s largest and most famous sapphires. The Logan Sapphire is named after Polly Logan, who donated the gemstone to the Smithsonian Institution in 1960.
The Queen Marie of Romania sapphire is named from its association with Marie. Originally set in a necklace by Cartier in 1913, the drop jewel weighs 478 carats. It was transferred to a diamond necklace in 1919 and King Ferdinand purchased it for Marie in 1921.
The Star of India is a 563.35-carat (112.67 g) star sapphire, one of the largest such gems in the world.] It is almost flawless and is unusual in that it has stars on both sides of the stone. The greyish blue gem was mined in Sri Lanka and is housed in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
The Star of Adam is an oval-shaped blue star sapphire, currently the largest star sapphire in the world. It weighs 1,404.49 carats(280.898 g; 9.9084 oz) Prior to its discovery, the Black Star of Queensland, weighing 733 carats (146.6 g), was the largest star sapphire gem in the world.
Fun Facts about sapphires
- The word sapphire is derived from the Latin and Greek words for “blue”.
- Sapphires are among the most durable naturally occurring elements in the world.
- Sapphires that contain trace minerals of iron and titanium are blue.
- Sapphires that contain trace minerals of chromium can turn corundum pink.
- The rarest type of sapphire is a pinkish orange variety called padparadscha.
- Apple Watch Series 3 features lab-created sapphire crystal in its screen to make it more scratch resistant, as do several Swiss watch companies.