Sapphires are one of the most popular gemstones in the jewellery industry, for their iconic luxurious status. Although they can be found in a variety of different colours, it is certainly the illustrious blue variant that most people associate with the sapphire.
With blue being the most popular hue in the multitude of colours of the rainbow for a sapphire, we thought it best to delve deeper into this gemstone. It’s time to take a look at the different shades of blue sapphire, and how their various hues affect their price and desirability!
An introduction to the blue sapphire
symbolism and history
This beautiful blue gemstone is known as the wisdom stone, for it promotes intelligence, education and the ability to make wise and good decisions. This is a good stone for students, teachers, judges and people seeking to be successful in their career. The Ancient Greeks wore this stone to attain wisdom and in Asia it is worn to promote spiritual enlightenment.
It is the birthstone of September and is used to celebrate 5th, 45th and 70th anniversaries. In addition to these symbolic associations with sapphires, they make for a sensational statement piece of jewellery. Often featured with accompanying diamonds for extra sparkle, the sapphire is a classic stone for any jewellery collection.
Key words when talking about sapphires
a terminology guide
The compositions of sapphires can be a little complex, so we have put together a gemstone dictionary to help you understanding any scientific terms.
The colour or shade of the sapphire.
This refers to the amount of colour present in the gem. Saturation is the most important aspect of colour grading because it has the most direct effect on the final price for the stone. Too much saturation makes the stone look dark, while too little saturation makes the gem look greyish. The optimal saturation is moderate to strong.
A form or degree of colour of a sapphire.
This is a style used when shaping a precious stone for polishing such as the brilliant cut, emerald cut or mixed cut.
What are the different blue hues of Sapphire?
Sapphires, with the stunning gradual tones from deep velvety blue to crisp cornflower blue to nearly black, are Mother Nature's gifts for us to cherish and enjoy. Variations in colour are due to iron and titanium impurities, for these minerals affect the depth and vibrancy of a sapphire.
The hue of the colour is very important, for better-quality sapphires will only have a primary hue of blue. Secondary hues to blue sapphires can be purple, violet, peach, orange, green, brown and grey. All these can determine their price, depending on how strongly they alter the original blue colour. The more blue in the sapphire, the better the shade.
The chart below show the different hues of a blue sapphire:
Globally ‘Royal Blue’ sapphires are highly sought after, and the best quality sapphires are found in Burma, Sri Lanka and India. Dark blue colour sapphires that may appear black are from Thailand, Australia and Nigeria. These darker sapphires have their own intriguing quality, and can be very striking when set amongst diamonds.
The best sapphires in terms of hue, tend to be the stone’s which radiant blue the most. Essentially the brighter the blue, whether dark or light in colour, adds to the value of the sapphire. Royal blue of course stands out strongly.
Natural and synthetic sapphires
What is interesting is that both natural and lab-created can appear visually the same. They have the same hardness but natural sapphires are created by the earth, whereas synthetic sapphires are made by humans in a controlled environment in a laboratory. Natural sapphires also have authentic inclusions or flaws in them, and exhibit a distinctive colour based on the region where they are produced. This gives them an increased unique quality which is often sought after.
There is of course, a big difference in cost. Natural gemstones demand a high price, while flawless lab-created sapphires are substantially less expensive than the natural gemstones, because they are so easily made. Many people prefer to have something that is created in nature as opposed to man-made, for it feels more genuine and more romantic.
The natural stones themselves have gone through many changes and pressures just like a relationship, which in turn grows into something organically beautiful. Man-made sapphires are also not truly unique, which lowers their value as many people could essentially be wearing the same sapphire. That special sparkle is not as powerful.
It is however also important to note, that most natural sapphires have been heat treated to enhance their colour when made into a piece of jewellery. This human intervention can also affect the price, and detract from the raw authentic aspect of a stone.
Famous Blue Sapphires
As with many iconic gemstones, their reputation is enhanced by certain pieces in the jewellery history books! Let’s take a look at some of the most unforgettable pieces.
Star of asiaWeighing in at 330 carats, the Star of Asia is one of the largest sapphires in the world, with a unique star shape that appears on both sides.
Logan Blue Sapphire
A flawless specimen from Sri Lanka, a cushion-cut stone which possesses a rich deep blue colour and is the second largest blue sapphire known, weighing 422.99 carats (84.6 g).
This beautiful sapphire is currently set in a brooch, surrounded by a halo of diamonds for extra sparkle.
Kate Middleton’s engagement ring
This stunning ring consists of a 12-carat oval blue sapphire, cut into facets, and surrounded by fourteen solitaire diamonds.
This ring originally belonged to Princess Diana, and has now been famously given to Kate by Prince William when he proposed in Africa.
A blue sapphire recap
Ultimately knowing which shade of blue is the best sapphire, is determined by personal taste and which colour suits your personality, skin tone, as well as the design of the piece of jewellery.
Your main objective when looking to purchase a blue sapphire is knowing all the different hues and characteristics.
Please pop into one of our stores to discuss your ideas with our friendly knowledgeable team and try on different designs which have been ethically sourced from all over the world.
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