Often when people think of a sapphire, they think of a gem with a seductive deep blue color. While blue sapphires are the most popular, sapphires actually come in a range of colors. Sapphires come from the mineral corundum. Different chemical elements present when the sapphire forms result in different colors. Let’s learn more about sapphires and all of the colors we can find them in.
What Causes Sapphires to be Different Colors?
While pure corundum is an allochromatic mineral, meaning it’s colorless or white, in the presence of other elements, corundum has one of the greatest natural color ranges in mineralogy. Within each corundum crystal, there are traces of other minerals that can change the way the gemstone reflects and refracts color. These trace minerals are a natural part of sapphires from millions of years ago when these gems formed underneath the Earth’s crust.
Depending on the trace elements present, corundum occurs in hues of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. When corundum is red due to the presence of chromium, it’s known as “ruby,” when blue due to the presence of iron and titanium, it’s known as “sapphire,” and when colorless it is known as “white sapphire.” All other colors of gem quality corundum are called “fancy sapphire” and are created the same way with different trace elements present.
Interestingly, there are no red sapphires as technically these are rubies. Rubies and sapphires both come from corundum, and it’s the gemstone’s hue that decides which one it is. At a certain color saturation, a red ruby will become a pink sapphire. Just like with diamonds and other precious gemstones, the “Four C’s” color, clarity, cut and carat, help differentiate as well as determine quality and value when assessing sapphires.
Types or Colors of Sapphires
Blue sapphires are the most popular and sought after with hues that can vary from pale blue to deep royal blue. Blue sapphires have been the darling gemstone of royalty for centuries, and when Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with his mother’s 18 carat blue sapphire engagement ring, it sparked a growing trend of couples searching for colored gemstone engagement rings.
Color has the greatest influence on a sapphire’s value, and preferred sapphires have strong to vivid color saturation. The major fancy sapphire color categories are padparadscha, pink and purple, orange and yellow, green, colorless and black. Each category has its own color range, causes of color, and market. Pink sapphires are beautifully romantic and increasingly popular for engagement rings. Yellow sapphires look very similar to yellow diamonds, and white sapphires look similar to diamonds, and both may be used as a lower price alternative.
Green sapphires are a lesser seen, non-traditional variety, that can be quite pale or have a deep, intense hue. Green sapphires can be a great alternative to emeralds as they are harder and much more durable. Corundum is an extremely durable mineral, the second hardest gem compared only to diamonds. Thanks to a rating of 9 on Mohs Mineral Hardness Scale, sapphires are perfect for jewelry like engagement rings.
Whether you want sapphire on its own or with a combination of other gems, blue, pink or any color your heart desires, we can help you create the perfect custom piece of jewelry. Give us a call at 303-385-8449 or click here to schedule your appointment!