A sapphire is a gemstone that’s just as breathtaking as it is durable. Trailing only behind the diamond in hardness, it’s resistant to scratching and chipping. That, plus its spectacular colours, makes it an ideal centrepiece for Australian sapphire jewellery, such as the ones offered by Holloway Diamonds. But with so many types of sapphires—blue sapphires, pink sapphires, padparadscha sapphires, and colour-change diamonds, to name a few—how do you choose the right one? This article guides you through the different types of sapphire to help you make the best choice.
What Is a Sapphire?
A sapphire is a corundum, or an aluminium oxide mineral, with a hexagonal crystal structure. It’s one of the world’s most precious gemstones and is known for its rich hues, which come from trace mineral content within the gem. The sapphire is also known for its durability, with a score of nine on the Mohs Scale of (Mineral) Hardness.
All of these attributes make sapphire jewellery a great investment. If you’re wondering how much sapphires are worth, you might be surprised to learn that they’re relatively affordable with gems selling for as low as $2000 per carat. Rubies and emeralds are corundums, as well.
Types of Sapphires
“What should I look for when buying a sapphire?” is a common question among those buying gemstone jewellery. One of the most important things to consider is the type of sapphire–there are several different kinds to pick from, all classified based on their colour. Here are some of the most common choices:
Blue sapphires are the most popular sapphires. They are often given as a 45th wedding anniversary gift, September birthstone jewellery, and, more recently, engagement rings. They became even more well known when Princess Diana, and later Kate Middleton, received engagement rings made with blue sapphire stones.
Blue sapphires themselves come in multiple shades, including cornflower blue, ceylon, teal, and ice blue. They’re mined in different parts of the world, with each environment producing certain characteristics. Sri Lanka produces some of the clearest sapphires on the market.
Pink sapphires are sometimes referred to as lighter rubies. This is because they have the same trace elements as rubies, but in smaller quantities, so their colour isn’t as deep. Instead, they come in shades ranging from light baby pink to hot pink. Their delicate hue makes them desirable to romantics and many women.
Pink sapphires used to be extremely rare, until large deposits were found in Madagascar. They have since become widely available and are the second most popular type of sapphire.
The padparadscha sapphire is one of the rarest and most coveted sapphires; it is also one of the most expensive kinds of sapphires out there. It has a bright and fruity pinkish-orange colour that is unique in each stone. If you are lucky enough to have a padparadscha sapphire, you’re likely holding on to a one-of-a-kind gemstone.
White sapphires are the purest variety of the gemstone. Contrary to popular belief, these aren’t truly white–they’re colourless and transparent because they don’t contain any trace minerals—they’re pure corundum. White sapphires are currently choice sapphires for engagement rings as they resemble diamonds but come at a more affordable price.
Parti-Coloured or Colour-Change Sapphires
Parti-coloured sapphires (also known as colour-change sapphires, polychrome sapphires, or corundum chameleons) show a combination of different colours within the stone and also shift in hue based on how light reflects on them. Under natural daylight, they exhibit basic hues and then change when subjected to artificial lighting.
There are numerous varieties of parti-coloured sapphires, and they’re classified based on their origin because the environment of their origination accounts for their composition, such as:
- The rare Montana Parti sapphire, which comes in shifting colours of blue, purple, and lavender
- The Kenyan Parti sapphire, one of the most highly valued sapphires, which comes in shades of green that change to yellow
- The Australian Parti sapphire, the most abundant type, which offers vivid yellow-green shades
Fancy Coloured Sapphires
Sapphires come in many colours. All sapphires (except the more common red, blue and colourless stones) are categorised as fancy coloured sapphires. With some luck, you can choose from yellow, orange, purple, green, teal, grey, or even black. They’re all exceptional, and are pretty rare.
Star sapphires are a type of gemstone that isn’t classified based on its colour. It’s known for its star pattern (called an asterism) on the surface, making it a head turner. It can come in any of the hues listed above, with its value also coinciding with its colour—blue star sapphires being the most expensive.
Where to Buy Sapphire Jewellery in Australia
With so many types to choose from, it can be overwhelming to buy sapphires. With the help of the professional jewellers at Holloway Diamonds, you can find the perfect piece of gemstone jewellery just for you.