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Fancy Sapphires

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Sapphires that are found in colors other than the famous blue and yellow are termed as fancy sapphires. These colored fancy sapphires are available in diverse vibrant colors that range from orange to yellow, pink, purple, deep red, green, colorless and even black. There are as many shades and tints of these colored stones as one can possibly imagine. The color in sapphires comes from various permutations and combinations of the three trace elements / minerals - chromium, iron and titanium. Due to the broad range of colors found in these stones, they have become popular with buyers who are looking for something apart from the regular colors of ruby, sapphires and emeralds.

Click to EnlargeThe colors used to describe fancy sapphires when they are sold on sites like ebay are extremely varied. Denim, burgundy, baby pink, flamingo pink, rose flower red, earth green, mahagony violet lavender, dark denim, light denim, canary yellow, paste l and violet lavender are all colors and hues that are used to describe the items being sold. Just because these terms are used to describe the colored sapphires does not mean that they get certified as those colors and therefore there is a need to be careful while picking and choosing colored sapphire for purchase.

Click to EnlargeThese fine fancy gems are also found in a variety of different cuts. Although round and oval are the most common cuts, square and rectangles have also been seen in the market. The colored sapphires are also available in executed oval mixed, perfectly executed oval, cushion mixed cut, cushion-mixed, emerald cut, oval mixed cut, oval mixed and more.

Click to EnlargeThough cut and polished, the fancy sapphires are generally untreated. White, yellow, pink, and green fancy sapphires are used extensively in jewelry like rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets, necklaces. These have become a fashionable statement these days and are sold widely across nations on various platforms.

The Orange Sapphire

Click to EnlargeThe most sought after and the most expensive sapphire among the fancy sapphires is the orange sapphire. It is also called the ‘padparadscha sapphire’, meaning ‘lotus flower’ in Sinhalese (the native language of Sri Lanka). This fiery gem has a unique hue that is hard to describe in words, but one could describe it as in between pinkish-orange to orangish-pink. It should be noted that pinkish orange and orangish-pink are two completely different colors, with the color mentioned later being the more dominant one. To explain further, pinkish-orange would be an orange color with a pinkish hue to it and orangish-pink would mean that the color is mainly orange with a dash of pink. ">Click to EnlargeThis is the standard way of describing gemstone colors the world over. Other than Sri Lanka, these beautiful gems are also found in East Africa. Wearing an orange sapphire ring does not have any superstitions attached to it, as in the case of a blue sapphire ring and therefore the orange sapphire can easily be used in various forms of jewelry.

The Pink and Purple Sapphire

Click to EnlargeThere has long been a debate on how to differentiate between a ruby and a pink sapphire or purple sapphire. However, today there are defined parameters like master stones (these are a set of gemstones that are color graded by International Gemological Laboratories and are used as samples) that can be used to distinguish between these gems. The trace elements in these gems are a combination of iron, chromium and titanium. The combinations dictate the exact color and one can even come across a violet sapphire. Click to EnlargeThese gems are mostly found in Sri Lanka and Burma (now Myanmar). A pink sapphire ring, a pink sapphire earring, a pink sapphire necklace can add significant glamour to the wearer. In fact pink sapphire rings and pink sapphire earrings have become quite popular and these products are being sold as fashion jewelry.

The Green Sapphire

Click to EnlargeThe green sapphire is available in abundance and can hardly be considered rare. They can be obtained at a fairly low cost. The color, which is more of khaki or olive green, is not considered extremely pleasant and does not have high eye appeal. Sometimes, one can comes across a green blue sapphire also. Often, green sapphires are used to make a ruby or blue sapphire doublet. (wherein the lower part of the stone is synthetic ruby or synthetic blue sapphire and the upper part is a green sapphire). This makes the stone look like a natural ruby or natural blue sapphire. 

The Colorless and Black Sapphire

Click to EnlargeThe trade name for the colorless sapphire is either white Sapphire or leuco sapphire, which is Greek for white or colorless. The white sapphire has a good demand in South India. The 1990s saw a great demand for these stones as a substitute for diamond and white sapphire jewelry like a white sapphire ring and white sapphire pendants became fairly popular. But as the trends changed, the demand for the stone dropped and the diamond itself became more popular.

Click to EnlargeThe black sapphire is nothing but a very dark blue sapphire that looks like a perfect and gorgeous black gem in normal light. Black sapphires are sold at a very low price and the only reason why this gemstone has stayed in demand is its resemblance to the black diamond used in fashion jewelry.

The Color-Changing Sapphire

Click to EnlargeThis variety of sapphire, as the name suggests, changes its color under different types of light. The beauty lies in the display of a blue-purple color under daylight, and a violetish to reddish purple under incandescent light or yellow light. This amazing and unusual phenomenon takes place due to the presence of vanadium in the color-changing sapphires. The quality and hence the prices of these sapphires are based on their color-changing property. The more distinct the color change, the better the quality and the higher the price. Often these lovely gemstones are falsely sold by traders as colour changing alexandrites, since the exotic alexandrite is much more expensive than the color-changing sapphire.

The Star Sapphire
Click to EnlargeThese gems belong to the phenomenal corundum family. They show a star-like effect called asterism on the surface of the stone. For this sparkling star effect to be seen, the cutting for this excellent stone needs to be in a sphere-like cut, called a cabochon cut. The star is formed by the perfectly intersected three or more rays on the surface of the stone. Click to EnlargeThe star effect is caused when the light reflects from the needle-like inclusion inside the stone. These needles are arranged intersecting each other in different directions. A  star stone in which the star is distinct (in the center of the stone and uniform in size and shape) can fetch a good price in the market. This is probably one of the cases where being flawless does not fetch a higher price.


1) Webster
2) Gemmology by Peter G.Read
3) Handbook of Gem Identification -   Richard  T.Liddicoat, jr
4) Gems and Crystals - From the American  Museum of Natural History - Anna S.Sofianides  and George E.Harlow.




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