We’re taking a look at all the different colours of September’s official Birthstone, Sapphire. Did you know that sapphire started its journey as a colourless mineral? During its formation in the Earth, the basic mineral corundum was exposed to tiny amounts of other elements such as iron and titanium. These elements became incorporated into the crystal structure. This changed the basic colourless crystals into the attractive colours we find today.
The term sapphire refers to all colours of the mineral corundum except the red colour. This colour has the name of ruby. The sapphire colours, other than blue, are known as fancy colours and include yellow, orange, purple and white, sometimes known as colourless.
When you think of a sapphire, it is the blue hue that often comes to mind. This is the colour that was sought by traders in the Roman empire, the jewellers of Byzantium, during the journey of Marco Polo and by British royalty. Blue sapphires were the perfect companion for diamonds in 19th century floral cluster and half hoop rings. Sapphire teamed naturally with diamonds in Art Deco white gold and platinum engagement rings.
Pink sapphires have been exponentially increasing in popularity as a modern and extremely flattering coloured gemstone. The colour pink exudes femininity and delicacy, coupled with an inner resilience and strength. All the various shades of pink sapphires are also some of the most universally complementary to all skin tones.
Pink sapphires are recognised as having a variety of meanings, symbolising good fortune, power through hardships, intense love and compassion, and subtle elegance. The vibrant colour has become quite popular for engagement rings as many modern weddings trend towards blush and baby pink colour schemes.
Padparadscha sapphires are one of the rarest of sapphires. These extremely rare stones are unknown to most, but when discovered usually become an absolute favourite. They are strikingly beautiful and almost no other coloured stone compares to this unique mix of pink and orange.
Sunsets, lotus flowers and tropical fruits – the colour range of a Padparadscha falls within a mix of 2 colours: pink and orange. “Padparadscha” is an ancient Sanskrit word used to describe the colour of a tropical lotus flower. One of the rarest gemstones of the world, Padparadscha sapphires are rivalled by no other gemstone species or colour substitute.
When looking for unusual sapphire engagement rings, the vibrant yellow and golden yellow colours are ones to consider. What makes the colourless corundum into a yellow sapphire? It is the presence of iron oxide alone. Historically, this attractive fancy colour was known as ‘oriental topaz’. These yellow stones have great lustre and transparency and can often be seen in oval and rectangular step-cut shapes.
Most natural sapphires are heat treated to permanently enhance their colour and clarity. This is a practice that goes back to Roman times. Un-heated stones are quite rare and are substantially more expensive than heated stones. Sapphire, unlike diamond, is dichroic, in other words, depending on how one looks at a gemstone, there will appear to be two different colours. In the case of blue sapphire, the dichroic colours are blue and violet although some blue sapphires show green and blue. Colour concentration in sapphire is rarely uniform throughout the crystal and is often more concentrated in one area of the gem than in another. It is the skill of the gem cutter that produces the fine gems that are used in sapphire jewellery.
We hope this has helped explain some of the differences between the different colours of Sapphire. If you are on the lookout for one of these truly aspirational gems, or sapphire engagement rings, why not get in touch with one of our expert team members at Hatton Jewels who will be more than willing to help you choose a Sapphire for your needs.