The September birthstone – sapphire – was once thought to guard against evil and poisoning. It was also traditionally a favourite stone of priests and kings, symbolizing purity and wisdom.
Whenever sapphires are mentioned, one immediately envisions gemstones of rich, silky Kashmir blue or lively cornflower hues. However, sapphires occur in a whole spectrum of colours, from greens and yellows to pinks and purples, even colourless and black.
Although the blue sapphire has long been, and still remains, the most sought after of all the sapphires, the vast rainbow of other colours provides both jewellers and the consumer far more variety when it comes to design.
As with most coloured gemstones, it is the intensity of colour that determines a sapphire’s pricing. And of all the fancy coloured sapphires, ‘padparadscha’ sapphires are considered to be one of the highest value. These dusky pink-orange stones take their name from a Singhalese salmon-coloured lotus blossom. The best padparadscha specimens command prices close to their blue sapphire counterparts.
Aside from the coveted padparadscha stone, fancy coloured sapphires can be found in all hues of the rainbow, from yellow, orange, green and brown through to purple. Their value is again generally assessed on their aesthetic beauty. Colourless white sapphires also occur. These are often used as a diamond alternative in jewellery, a means of getting the ‘look’ without the higher price tag. Again, black sapphires work as a more affordable but equally as splendid substitute for black diamonds.
Like blue sapphires, fancy coloured sapphires can occur as ‘star’ sapphires. Also known as asterism, this is the appearance of star-shaped crossing lines on the surface of the sapphire, which, as the stone is moved and rotated, glide across the surface of the stone. This effect is best viewed in sapphires with strongly saturated colours, where the star’s ‘rays’ emanate strongly.
A hard-wearing and hard-working gemstone, with a whole rainbow of colours and mesmerising optical effects, fancy coloured sapphires are the perfect choice for any piece of jewellery.
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