How many sapphire colours are there? When most people think of sapphires, they think of gems that are blue. But sapphires actually exist in a whole rainbow range of colours. This article explains the differences between each type of sapphire colour, including quality, rarity and price.
- Sapphire colour variations
- Why are there are no red sapphires?
- Details about the most popular sapphire colour variations: pink, blue, yellow, green, white…
- Padparadscha sapphires and other ‘fancy’ sapphires
- How to pick the perfect sapphire
First, what are sapphires?
Sapphires are one of the ‘Big Three Gemstones’, alongside emeralds and rubies. They’re formed from a mineral called corundum.
What colours do sapphires come in?
Sapphires exist in a rainbow range of colours – as blue, pink, green, yellow, orange, purple, colourless and black gemstones.
Scroll down to get more information about each sapphire colour variation.
However, sapphires don’t come in red!
The only colour that sapphires do not come in is red. That’s because gemstones formed from red corundum are called rubies. It’s simply another gem variety of the same mineral.
What causes sapphires to be different colours?
Trace elements cause differences in sapphire colour. Within each corundum crystal, there are traces of other minerals that can change the way the gemstone reflects and refracts colour.
These trace minerals are a natural part of sapphires from millions of years ago when these gems formed underneath the Earth’s crust.
For instance, chromium is responsible for pink sapphire colour. Another example is the way titanium traces result in blue sapphires.
A word about colour intensity and shade
Each sapphire is a creation of Mother Nature. This means that each individual sapphire has a varying level of trace minerals present.
Consequently, each sapphire’s colour is unique in intensity and shade.
A list of sapphire colours:
Now, onto our list of sapphire colours. Underneath, you’ll find the most popular sapphire variations, some of which are sold commercially, and some which are rare collector’s items.
1. Blue sapphires
Most people think of the colour blue when they hear the word sapphire.
Desirable blue sapphire colours can range from light blue to intense black-blue.
What you want to avoid are sapphires that look very light blue or grey.
2. Pink sapphires
Pink sapphires range from light pink to fuchsia. All of these shades are accepted, as long as the pink sapphire is clear and bright.
However, there is a fine line where a pink sapphire crosses over to red, making it a ruby. The exact colour distinction has never been officially established. In fact, it’s been a bone of contention amongst gem experts for decades!
Therefore, if you’re buying a pink sapphire, it’s up to you to decide which shade you prefer.
3. Yellow sapphires
Yellow sapphire colour can range from pale lemon yellow to intense tangerine.
Some gem experts say the golden-orange toned ones are the best.
But many consumers prefer a lighter yellow because they are an excellent affordable alternative to yellow diamonds.
4. Green sapphires
Green sapphires can range from pale olive to dark bottle green. All shades are acceptable as long as there are no marks in the gem.
Most people who buy green gemstone jewellery prefer emeralds.
However, green sapphires have the advantage of being harder and much more durable than emeralds.
5. Star sapphires
Sapphires that are not blue, black or colourless are called fancy sapphires or parti sapphires.
A noteworthy fancy sapphire variation is the unique star sapphire.
They exhibit a characteristic known as “asterism”. This is a star-like light reflection inside a gem with a blue, pink, black, grey, white, purple or yellow body.
6. White sapphires
Sapphire colours also come in monochrome tones. The gem industry refers to pure corundum as “colourless sapphire” or “white sapphire”.
Some jewellers use white sapphires as accent stones in jewellery.
This is because they are a genuine but affordable alternative to diamonds.
7. Padparadscha sapphires
Pink-orange sapphires are called padparadscha sapphires. They can range from light peachy colour to intense yellow-pink.
The word padparadscha refers to a lotus flower. These sapphires are very beautiful, but also very, very expensive and are therefore usually sold as collector’s items.
One of the most famous padparadscha sapphires in the world is on the engagement ring of Princess Eugenie.
How is sapphire quality assessed?
There is no worldwide standard for assessing sapphires. Therefore, each one has to be evaluated in its own right.
Just like diamonds, sapphires must have good clarity; this means a lack of marks and cloudiness.
Next, their colour must be vivid, never dull.
A word about colour-treated sapphires
Colour-treated sapphires are not natural. They are corundum crystals that have been heated or chemically altered, in order to change their colour.
At The Diamond Store, we do not sell or recommend colour-treated sapphires because, in the long term, they may change their colour.
Therefore, in our opinion, they do not represent good value for money.
A natural pink sapphire ON VIDEO:
Here is a natural pink sapphire that has not been colour treated.
See how intense and sparkly it looks:
Sapphire gifting occasions
Sapphire is the official birthstone for people born in September or under the star sign of Virgo.
It is also the gift gem for the 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries.
Why sapphires are perfect for rings
Corundum is an extremely durable mineral, the second hardest gem compared only to diamonds. Thanks to this, sapphires are perfect for jewellery like engagement rings.
What is the right sapphire colour for you?
The great thing about sapphires is that you can decide which colour you prefer. The beauty is entirely in the eye of the beholder. The most traditional and classic choice is blue sapphires, whilst pink sapphires can be very flattering to wear. Green and yellow sapphires are a unique connoisseur’s choice that stands out from the crowd.
Want to learn more about sapphires?
Also, take a look at our article on Sapphire – September Birthstone Meaning.