In this post, we are going to dig into all of the different shades of sapphire that can be found around our beautiful, blue planet. The abundant presence of specific colors of sapphires in the regions described above can thus be explained by the presence of other elements on Earth.
Sapphires come in 10 colors. They are: blue, yellow, white, black, purple, pink, green, grey, orange, and brown. Red sapphires are actually rubies. Some sapphires are rarer than others. The rarest are orange and pink. The most common is blue. The color differences arise due to mineral impurities in the stone.
Different chemical elements that are present at the time that the sapphires formed may have led to the development of a number of different colors. Not all sapphires are blue; the colors that we see are a result of impurities and a process called charge shifting. In rubies and sapphires, color is explained by crystal field theory, but with sapphires, a slightly different process known as charge transfer produces the blue sapphires.
This means rubies and sapphires are in fact the same gemstone, they are simply colored differently due to trace minerals changing the colors. Sapphire’s color is actually yellow, green, or blue, but an infusion makes it look darker brown or black.
Sapphires Come in Numerous Types
There are many variations on the colorless or white sapphire, like yellow-green, or blue-purple. Color-changing sapphires are more commonly changed from blue to purple and are misidentified as Blue Alexandrite.
A transparent diamond may appear to be a very dark blue or purple because the iron and titanium change the gemstone’s color. Natural sapphires take their striking colors only if trace amounts of other elements are present, with blue sapphires getting their color from tiny concentrations of titanium and iron.
Sapphires such as this one may be just as saturated with color as a blue sapphire but have a more unique (and harder to come by) color. Sapphires are generally known for their stunning blue colors, although they come in many other color varieties. Most famous for their strong blue coloring, sapphires can be found in nearly every color of the rainbow, ranging from pink to white.
Hot pink sapphires are more precious due to their strong, vibrant color, but lighter pink sapphires are equally desired in jewelry. Pink sapphires are available in light reds (pink) through to a slight to strong color saturation that falls outside of the range for Ruby or Purple Sapphires. Purple sapphires are similar to amethysts in color, but they are brighter in brightness, rarer, and more valuable.
The Properties of Colorful Sapphires
Green sapphires come in various attractive colors, from lighter, minty greens to deeper, more serious olive greens. Strictly speaking, green sapphires are not especially expensive nor uncommon, with the exception of one type; the flat green color with no hint of yellow or blue (which are typically found together with green sapphires).
Yellow sapphires are also available in various color saturations ranging from yellowish yellows to yellowish-oranges, and from lighter to darker hues, whereas orange sapphires are found with deeper shades of gold, up to mandarin, and deeper shades of orange. In addition to the hue, most of the colors in sapphires can be found in different intensities, also known as saturation.
Most commonly, the altered colors in sapphire will appear purple when incandescent, violet, or blue when in daylight or fluorescent, but this phenomenon may occur with other colors on occasion. Under daylight-equivalent (fluorescent or LED-dimming) lighting, typical color-changing sapphires’ base colors range from blue to violet. The second method to obtain a yellowish-colored sapphire is through low-level radiation to the sapphire, which changes the color hue to yellow.
This causes the sapphire to appear pinkier than red, and because of that, the sapphire remains classified as a sapphire. Black sapphire is not actually black but is instead a colored sapphire that gets its inky tone from inclusions that keep the light from reflecting off of the stone.
Blue Is the Default Color
Sapphires that are not blue are known as colored sapphires, which can come in any color – with the exception of red (which is ruby). Generally, except for red corundum (which is called a ruby), blue sapphires, and colorless sapphires, all other colors of sapphire are called fancy sapphires. All other colors in gemstone-quality corundum are called fancy sapphires, and are created in a similar manner, but have various trace elements present.
Corundum crystals of gemstone quality of any color except red are called sapphires, and the red varieties are called rubies. White sapphires are exceedingly rare in nature, with the majority being created by laboratory processes, or even heated, in order to remove the slightest hints of color.
Red corundum is known as ruby, while all other colored corundum (including the colorless, or white sapphires, as they are known in the trade) are sapphires, though blue is the most famous. Purple sapphire is actually caused by traces of the mineral vanadium changing the color of the corundum. The color is caused by trace amounts of other minerals that are found in the corundum sapphires are made of.
How Corundums Are Classified
Any corundum that does not meet the requirements for being ruby is considered to be a sapphire. Not only are there colored sapphires of all of the above colors and intermediate shades, but there are also colored sapphires that show the phenomenon known as color shifting.
Although sapphire has always been associated with the color blue, sapphire is actually found in a complete range of colors, including pink, orange, yellow, green, violet, purple, grey, black, and brown, and is a colorless variety. Purple sapphires range from a reddish-purple to violetish violet in hues from faint to bright. The main categories of colored gems are Padparadscha, pinks and violets, oranges and yellows, greens, and colorless and blacks. The most valuable types of Padparadscha sapphires are those that are 50% orange and 50% pink.
Perhaps because of these associations, most people associate the term sapphire to the color blue (although, as we shall see below, there are far more shades in the spectrum of sapphires than one would expect). If you are looking to add one of these blue sapphires to your jewelry box, or maybe you are considering one of our laboratory-created engagement rings, you might be surprised to learn just how many different types and colors of sapphire stones there are.