Sapphire Gemstones: Overview and Facts

Sapphire Secrets
Sapphire Secrets

Sapphire. Ruby. Emerald. The names of the big three gemstones are so intrinsically linked with color that as soon as you read those three words you probably thought ‘Blue. Red. Green’. And while you were perfectly correct as far as rubies and emeralds are concerned, you may be surprised to learn that you need to rethink your understanding of sapphires. For, although they are justly famed for their brilliant cornflower blue hue, sapphires also come in a variety of other colors.

The Science

sapphire jewelry
Spectacular quality Sri Lankan Sapphire

It’s quite simple, really. Sapphire is the word used to describe a stone of the mineral family corundum: which in its purest, colorless form is made up of only aluminum and oxygen. However, a colorless corundum is extremely rare as most stones contain small amounts of color-giving trace elements. When these elements are iron and titanium you end up with the blue sapphire we all know – the more iron that is present, the more darker the blue.

Getting Fancy

When other elements, such as chromium, magnesium or vanadium, are present in varying combinations and amounts then the corundum stone can appear in assorted shades of greens, yellows, pinks, oranges and purples. These crayon box colored gems are known as ‘fancy’ sapphires and they became much more well-known after new deposits were found in east Africa in the 1990s. Exceptionally rare color-change sapphires show different colors under different lights, and at JupiterGem we have some fabulous examples which change from bluish violet in natural lighting to purple in incandescent lighting.

Seeing Red!

Investment Gemstones
Scarlet ruby

You may have noticed that the above list of possible sapphire hues covered every color of the rainbow apart from one. That’s right, red is missing from the list. This is because when a sapphire contains sufficient chromium for it to be classified as red it is given its own unique name – ruby. So rubies are, in effect, red sapphires!

A Bit of a Mouthful

Padparadscha Sapphires
Padparadscha Sapphires

It may take a bit of practice to get used to saying it, but we can promise that padparadscha sapphires are well worth the effort. These sunset-hued pinky-orangey stones were originally only found in Sri Lanka, but are now also mined in Madagascar. Extremely rare, these gorgeous stones are fast becoming an engagement ring favorite. Just ask Princess Eugenie, who received a 3 carat diamond enclosed stunner in 2018.

Seeing Stars!

Asterism is a term that refers to a remarkable optical effect whereby certain sapphires seem to have a bright white star within them when hit by light. These mesmerizing stars are formed by minute needle-like inclusions within the stone and usually are in the form of six intersecting arms. Star sapphires are always cabochon cut in order to best display this beautiful phenomenon.

Back to Blue

While colored sapphires are undoubtedly spectacular and are justly growing in popularity, many would argue that nothing can beat a true blue sapphire. There is, after all, a reason that the finest examples of these gems fetch some of the highest per carat prices in the world. Not only are they magnificent to look at, but they also have the added appeal of being at the center of centuries of legends and spiritual beliefs throughout the world.

The ancient Persians believed that the world sat on an enormous blue sapphire whose reflection gave the sky its color. Early Christian kings believed sapphires were symbols of heaven which would bestow blessings on the wearer. And both Buddhists and Hindus believed that sapphires brought spiritual enlightenment.

Fit For a Princess

Helen of Troy, Empress Joséphine and Elizabeth Taylor are just some of the famous names throughout history who have fallen under the spell of the mesmerizing blue sapphire. Although it is the late Princess Diana who can perhaps lay claim to the most well-known and copied piece of sapphire jewelry. Her spectacular 12 carat oval Ceylon sapphire and diamond encrusted engagement ring can now be seen on the hand of Kate Middleton – providing inspiration for a whole new generation of colored gemstone-loving brides-to-be.

A Perfect Choice

With a hardness rating of 9 on the Mohs scale, the sapphire is an excellent choice not just aesthetically, but practically too. You really do get the best of both worlds with this gemstone – unparalleled beauty matched with durability. At JupiterGem we have a fantastic array of sapphires in an abundance of colors and cuts. And if we don’t have that ideal stone you’re looking for? Well, we’ll hunt it down for you! We love nothing more than matching the perfect stone to the perfect customer – so give us a call today and let us find you the sapphire of your dreams. (graduated gemologist, Chantelle Lobo) (graduated gemologist, Chantelle Lobo)

graduated gemologist

Growing up in a country like India, bursting with color, culture and creativity, Chantelle's curiosity drew her towards the fascinating world of gemstones and jewelry. Trained with the best at the Gemological Institute of America and the SSEF, Switzerland, her knowledge encompasses advanced methods of gemstone identification, diamond grading and the manufacture and sales as a jewelry professional. Her adventures have taken her to source Spinels on the busy streets in Myanmar to exceptional Sapphires in Srilanka, a selection of gems from Madagascar and even rare Jades in China. With over 7 years of experience in the jewelry industry, her strong foundation in this niche field allows her to make key observations on the value or quality of gemstones and jewelry. She now continues to fuel her deep-rooted interest for these special stones by seeking out precious one-of-a-kind gems around the world. Linkedin: