Sapphires: Beautiful Beyond Blue
Sapphire is often considered to be synonynous 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.
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 firey 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.