Considered one of the “big three”, sapphires, alongside rubies and emeralds, are considered one of the world’s most important gemstones. Its deep-seated history, marked by mentions in ancient texts, as well as the adornment of royal jewels, has established sapphires as one of the world’s most significant gemstones. Although the sapphire’s popularity can be credited to its mystical and romantic attributes, it is the stone’s impressive color and durability that has granted its great esteem.
A Spectrum of Gems
Most commonly known for its blue color, sapphires, which are a variety of the mineral species, corundum, actually come in a spectrum of other colors. Known as “fancy sapphires”, these colors include hues of violet, green, yellow, orange, pink and purple. The most notable fancy sapphire of all is the Padparadscha sapphire. The rare hue is difficult to describe, some call this pinkish-orange to orange-pink gemstone “salmon” or “sunset”. Most commonly, the spectacular color is referred to as “Padparadscha”, the Sinhalese word for lotus. These exceptional stones most often originate from the mines of Sri Lanka, which provide the world’s largest variety of fancy sapphires. Fancy sapphires, usually Padparadscha or Padparadscha-type, demand command top prices, for their rarity and exceptional color.
Blue Velvet: Dominating the Market
Even still, a sapphire’s intensely saturated and velvety blues have dominated the market. The best examples of which originate from Kashmir. From the years of 1881 to 1887, these stones were mined to depletion, making Kashmir sapphires particularly rare. Known for their “cornflower blue” color which ranges between violetish blue to a pure blue and velvety luster, make these gemstones some of the world’s most exceptional. This unparalleled softness is a results of many minute inclusions referred to as “silk”, which is a relatively unique attribute of Kashmir sapphires.
Excellent examples of sapphires are also found in Myanmar, formally Burma. These Burmese sapphires are especially rich with intense hues. This historic source includes the Mogok mine which has been in production for over 800 years. Exceptional sapphires out of Sri Lanka, referred to as Ceylon, are recognized for their exceptional brilliance and relatively larger sizes. Sapphires sourced from Thailand, Cambodia, Madagascar, Australia and Nigeria have significant presences on the market as well.
An intensely saturated or velvety sapphire is unparalleled by any other gemstone. Its presence on the international market, rooted in a long history, is thanks to its exceptional characteristics. Beloved by makers and collectors alike, sapphires have inspired some of the world’s finest jewels. These stones of impressive color and durability are an essential acquisition to a collector.