People frequently ask me what a sapphire gemstone stands for, whether the sapphire a suitable choice for an engagement ring, and what it costs. I get it. Considering that the diamond has been the traditional choice throughout history, even pondering whether to switch the center stone for a sapphire brings out lots of questions. Therefore, I decided to sit down and write a complete guide to sapphires in all colors. Enjoy!
Why a Sapphire Is a Good Choice for an Engagement Ring
A center sapphire can be a good choice if you want a ring that doesn't get too expensive but where you also do not want to compromise on quality. The sapphire is a precious gemstone like the diamond, the ruby (which is a red sapphire), and the emerald. When you think of sapphires, you're probably thinking of a dark blue, royal gemstone. But sapphires come in a rainbow of colors—even in white, as you see in Abelstedt's selection. White sapphires are among the most expensive and rarest of all sapphires. Some white sapphires can even be more expensive than white diamonds, which I will explain further in a bit.
I myself am very fond of sapphires and dare to reveal that I have chosen to have a white sapphire as the center stone in my own engagement ring. But I was very much in doubt at first since the traditional diamond certainly also has its advantages over a sapphire. It's for this reason that I have chosen to write this complete guide on sapphires which I hope can advise you from A to B. If you are in the dilemma of whether to choose a diamond or sapphire, then I have written a separate guide to this topic here.
What Is a Sapphire Made Of?
Let's look back a little to elementary school chemistry and remember the periodic table. All gemstones are made from the naturally occurring substances that your school teacher probably made you remember, but the exciting thing about sapphires is that a small dose of an extra substance can create a completely different color.
Sapphires are mainly made of the mineral corundum. When corundum is mixed with tiny doses of other elements, it turns into almost every color on the scale. Funny fact: rubies are actually just a red corundum — the name 'ruby' simply refers to its red color, so it's not a completely different kind of gemstone than the sapphire as people tend to believe.
Here's how some of the sapphire's colors came to be:
White sapphires are pure corundum without impurities and other substances. They look colorless and can therefore almost be confused with a diamond.
Yellow sapphires get their golden warm color from small amounts of iron.
Blue sapphires get their blue color from traces of titanium and iron mixed into the corundum.
Pink sapphires are created due to tiny amounts of chromium.
Orange sapphires are made with a mix of iron and chromium.
Green sapphires in different shades are created with different amounts of iron and titanium.
Durability and Hardness of a Sapphire
The sapphire has a hardness of 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale whereas the diamond is a 10. For a colored stone that crosses all the boxes for durability, beauty, and color selection, I recommend the sapphire because it is the second hardest natural stone after the diamond, making it very scratch resistant and a perfect choice for everyday use, which also makes it a great choice for a valuable engagement ring.
What Does a Sapphire Cost?
Recently, sapphires have started to gain popularity in engagement rings and high-end jewelry rather than diamonds, partly because of the reason stated above, but the price and the large selection of colors is the biggest reason. A huge advantage of the white sapphire compared to a diamond is the price. If you look at a 1 carat diamond, it can easily cost USD 4,000-5,000, whereas for a white sapphire with a similar size, you can often purchase them for less than USD 1,500. So if you are looking for a larger stone, there is definitely a chance that you might like a sapphire better.
What Does the Sapphire Symbolize?
Many sources show that sapphires are believed to symbolize wisdom, virtue, luck, and holiness for the royals. In an engagement ring, a sapphire also means faithfulness and sincerity. Many years ago it was said that the sapphire's reflection helped to make the sky blue. The most typical sapphire is dark blue, but today all colors are equally popular and white sapphires have become a hit instead of a white diamond.
The sapphire is the birthstone of the month of September. So if your better half was born in the month of September or you guys became official in that month, it could be a cute symbol to celebrate with the sapphire.
Additionally, sapphires are easier to source ethically and are less harmful to the environment. Like most other colored gemstones, it is much easier to extract sapphires compared than diamonds. Almost 85% of the colored gemstones are extracted by hand without large drills. Meanwhile, they are often extracted from smaller mine operations and it's therefore easier to have a direct connection to the manufacturer and thereby know the journey has been appropriate from mine to cutting.
The Quality of the Sapphire
When talking about diamonds and quality, one often looks at the 4 C’s: cut, clarity, carat and color. But with gemstones such as sapphires, one does not look at exactly the same things. Let me review each one anyway:
Cut: Unlike diamonds, there is no standard cut for a sapphire, nor is there a specific cut that makes the sapphire more beautiful. Cut is therefore not a factor that is viewed as a yardstick for sapphire quality.
Clarity: Diamonds are examined in a magnifying glass for inclusions at 11x magnification, but again, this is not a normal standard procedure in sapphires. The reason for this is that they are formed with many different minerals that are easily trapped inside the sapphire and one therefore accepts that there are small flaws and inclusions in most sapphires. It's almost impossible to get around.
The ultimate measure of sapphire clarity is whether it is 'eye pure' (meaning no inclusions to the naked eye). Inclusions and defects are generally much less noticeable in sapphires thanks to their depth and color.
If you find a completely flawless sapphire, it is most likely created in a laboratory. Sapphires with almost perfect clarity are extremely rare and staggeringly expensive.
Carat: Here we are talking about the weight and size of the stone. Sapphires are heavier than diamonds, and therefore. a 1 carat diamond will look bigger than a 1 carat sapphire. Therefore, sapphires are often measured in millimeters rather than carat. A round sapphire of one carat measures about 6 mm, while a round diamond of one carat measures about 6.5 mm in diameter.
So when looking at sapphire sizes, you should look at the millimeters instead of its carat.
The 4th C: Color of the Sapphire
The sapphire is made of alumina with a trigonal crystal structure. It comes in a myriad of shades including white, violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and intermediate shades. There are also partially colored sapphires that show combinations of different colors. Some sapphires exhibit color change, most often going from blue in daylight or fluorescent lighting to purple under incandescent light. Sapphires can even be gray, black, or brown.
Gemstone color can be both incredibly exciting and a little difficult to navigate. There are many color choices and it can be quite overwhelming, but most people choose the colors: white, blue, gold, or champagne. Color will always be a personal preference, and in my opinion, no color is better than another. The beauty of naturally colored stones is that they are dictated by Mother Earth, so you will not find two identical, natural sapphires—your gemstone is completely unique to you.
The White Sapphire
We all know and love the famous blue sapphire. But as I mentioned ealier, a sapphire can also be colorless. Like diamonds, we often refer to colorless sapphires as "white" sapphires.
Natural white sapphires are extremely rare and often more expensive than diamonds. But when you look online or in stores, you see many of them. Why? Because most white sapphires are not really white. Usually, these are actually yellow or gray sapphires that have been given a heat or chemical treatment to enhance the color. As you can imagine, this causes the value of the white sapphire to decrease.
For a white sapphire, color is the most important factor. The purer the colorlessness, the better. When judging the color of the sapphire, just look at it with the naked eye and see if the stone appeals to you. The most important thing is to make sure that the color is uniform throughout the stone. Due to heat treatment, it's more likely that the color inside the sapphire is not evenly distributed. If the color is consistent, the stone is more valuable as a white sapphire with uneven color is simply less appealing.
Differences between the Diamond and the White Sapphire
When comparing a white sapphire with a diamond, there are a few differences that catch the eye. The most obvious difference is the spark. White sapphires sparkle less than diamonds but this is not something you can always see with the naked eye. In terms of clarity, sapphires usually have more spots than diamonds. But as you know, this can vary from diamond to diamond. Sapphires also attract more dirt which means you need to clean a sapphire more often than a diamond.
Treatment of a Sapphire
Almost all sapphires have been heat treated: i.e they have been heated at extremely high temperatures to intensify their color as well as improve their clarity. For centuries, heat has been used to enhance the appearance and luster of sapphires. You can therefore almost always assume that every single sapphire you buy is heat treated unless it is clearly states that it is not.
Heat treatments are very common in gemstones and nothing to worry about as it is widely accepted and safe practice. The reason for this is that only about 1% of all sapphires are of good enough quality to be able to skip the heat treatment.
If one were to use only the 1% of sapphires that were of good enough quality not to make use of heat treatment, 99% of the mined sapphires would be discarded. One would therefore in no way be able to meet the demand, not to mention that it would be an incredible waste of the Earth's precious resources.
So while gem collectors love the pristine, natural beauty of an untreated sapphire, we also celebrate the treatment that allows more people to get a real sapphire.
The Most Frequently Asked Questions about Sapphire Engagement Rings
Are Sapphires Popular for Engagement Rings?
The sapphire is the second most popular choice of center stone for an engagement ring after the diamond. Not only are sapphire rings beautiful, they are also durable and, as I said, are right after the diamond on the Mohs hardness scale. This means that a sapphire ring is resistant to damage even when worn every day.
What Shapes Can Sapphire Be Available In?
Sapphires are usually round or oval in their cut but can also be obtained rectangular, pear-shaped, or square.
Does White Sapphire Become Dull over Time?
When a white sapphire gets a little dirty, it can lose a small part of its beauty and sparkle. However, cleaning the stone will bring its sparkle back.
Are All Sapphires Blue?
Sapphires are formed naturally in all the colors of the rainbow as well as black and colorless. The blue shades are certainly the best known ranging from dark, ink blue, deep royal blue to pale cornflower blue. Blue-green, white, pink, green, and yellow sapphires are also popular choices for engagement rings. It is a known fact that rubies are also sapphires. Ruby is just the red kind.
How Much Is a White Sapphire Worth?
The white sapphire is available in a variety of qualities. Completely clear stones are quite rare, giving them a higher value. Although clear, white sapphires look like authentic diamonds, they have a lower price, often a third of a diamond of similar size when talking larger stones.
Are Sapphires More Valuable than Diamonds?
Sapphire rings are a great choice if you are looking for a more affordable option for an engagement ring. Most varieties do not cost the same as the price of a diamond of the same size. The exceptions to this are the larger specimens of the very rare colors such as padparadscha (peach-orange) and blood-red ruby. The value of both of these can compete with the price of a diamond of the same size.
What Designs Are Best Suited for Sapphire Engagement Rings?
Typically, sapphire engagement rings also consist of diamonds. Whether in a solitary or a halo design, diamonds are often included to provide a contrast to the sapphire middle stone. Sapphires look breathtaking in classic, vintage, or nature-inspired designs and can be a striking centerpiece in more modern styles.
Diamonds as Side Stones
A popular choice to add extra sparkle to your design is to add small side diamonds around the center stone. Whether they are in a halo, a cluster, or down the band, several smaller diamonds can add stunning detail and bring your sapphire ring to life.
Sapphire Engagement Rings from Abelstedt
At Abelstedt, we specialize in providing our customers with the finest sapphires of the best quality. Our natural sapphires offer true beauty, rarity and superior value compared to other traded sapphires. We offer a large selection of blue sapphires, pink sapphires, yellow sapphires, white sapphires, and other unique natural sapphires. All our sapphires are cut at our own workshop and set in each ring by hand.
Whether you are looking for a gift, a ring for everyday use, or a sapphire engagement ring, you will find the perfect choice in our collection. And if you are interested in designing a specially designed sapphire ring, you can always reach out to me in the chat or via email. Then we will figure it out together.