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Sapphire Colors & Varieties

Unique & Rare Sapphire Colors

There Are More Colors?

Yes! The beauty of sapphire is that they come in a plethora of colors and many of these unique colors are within most budgets!

Lime green, magenta, white, orange, brown, cognac, violet and all colors in between, are classified as rare and unique sapphire colors. Paradoxically, these rainbow-colored gems are not necessarily more expensive although they are often one of a kind. Market demand for these gemstones are driven by collectors who purchase them for their individuality and personality.

Purple, Lavender, And Violet Sapphires

Violet and lavender sapphires
Violet and lavender sapphires

The colors purple and violet are often confused, but are actually distinct hues. Purple is a blended hue: red with a mixture of blue. Violet, on the other hand, is a blend of blue with purple.

These colors may be considered more obscure due to the availability of other purple and violet gemstones. However, sapphires are far more durable and brilliant than other stones of the same color. Experienced jewelers and gemologists can distinguish sapphire from amethyst by luster alone. The color of violet and purple sapphire is much more stable under normal conditions. An amethyst’s color is sensitive to heat and light.

Many purple and violet sapphires show subtle shifts in color under different kinds of lighting, they will appear violet under daylight or fluorescent lighting, and distinctly purple under incandescent lights. These “color-shift” (as opposed to “color-change” – see below) sapphires are popular with gem connoisseurs, who will pay premiums for stones with strong to vivid saturation and a conspicuous color-shift.

Purple and violet sapphires come from Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, and Myanmar.

Green Sapphires

A cushion cut green sapphire
A cushion cut green sapphire

Naturally, colored green sapphires range from light yellow-green, to medium yellowish green (“olive” or “leaf” green) to blue-greens.

Green is a rare color for sapphire. Supplies may be limited, but green sapphire is virtually unknown to the public, so demand has not driven prices to the same heights as pink or yellow sapphire.Color saturation does not play much of a role in the pricing of these stones, green sapphires have a beauty all their own. They are far more brilliant than emerald, and much harder and more durable than either peridot or tourmaline.

Green sapphire is uncommon, but it is also comparatively inexpensive, so fine stones are expected to be eye-clean. Lighter colored yellowish green sapphires show inclusions very easily, so clarity in these stones is especially important.

Green sapphires are generally found in Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Australia, Madagascar, and Montana (USA).

White Sapphires

Natural white sapphires
Natural white sapphires

White sapphire, also known as “leucosapphire,” and are not really white at all, but transparent and colorless.

It is also the purest and rarest form of corundum, since it lacks the trace elements that color other sapphires. Although white sapphire is rare, it is an inexpensive gem with smaller demand. It is often used as a diamond substitute.

Because color is not a factor in the value of a white sapphire, clarity is absolutely critical to the stone’s status as a gem. Visible inclusions diminish the value of white sapphires far more than they would in colored stones.

White sapphires are found in all sizes, but the larger the stone, the less likely that it will be entirely colorless. Therefore, small white sapphires are more common in the marketplace than large ones. White sapphires can occur in almost any corundum deposit, but gem-quality stones are exceedingly rare.

Color-Change Sapphires

Color change sapphires in different lighting
Color change sapphires in different lighting

Many sapphires shift color between purple and violet under different lighting conditions, but a few rare and exceptional sapphires change color dramatically – from grayish or greenish blue in daylight or fluorescent lighting to brownish red in incandescent light.

The color-change phenomenon rarely alternates between bold or saturated hues but it makes these stones prized items for gem connoisseurs. Their value is based less upon how attractive their alternating colors are, and more on how dramatic and complete the change of color is.

For color-change sapphires, clarity is far less important than the degree of color-change. Eye-clean stones are extremely rare, and most collectors are content with slightly included color-change gems.

Color-change sapphires are usually small, and because rough is rare, they are not normally supplied in calibrated sizes. Color-change sapphires are found almost exclusively in Madagascar and Africa in very small quantities.

Orange Sapphires

A natural oval orange sapphire
A natural oval orange sapphire

Orange sapphires range from light pastel oranges to vivid reddish oranges. As a blend of red and yellow hues.

Orange sapphire was once an obscure and undervalued gem, but this is no longer the case. With orange’s arrival as an important fashion color, orange sapphire has gained popularity.

These sapphires are colored by a combination of chromium (red) and iron (yellow) trace elements, or by exposure to natural radiation. Orange sapphires whose color stems from natural radiation may fade on exposure to heat or intense daylight.

Orange sapphires with pleasing color are rare in any size, so stones that are slightly or moderately included are still valuable gems. Orange sapphires are not mined in great quantities, so stones are not usually cut to standard sizes or proportions.

Orange sapphires are found in Australia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Kenya, and Madagascar.

Cognac and Brown Sapphires

A natural round cognac sapphire
A natural round cognac sapphire

Jewelry designers have discovered the suave beauty of sapphires in shades of honey brown, terra cotta, and cognac. Their warm, earthy colors complement many wardrobes.

Until recently, brown sapphires were not considered to be gem-quality stones. The new found popularity of brown sapphires is due to the growing popularity of fancy colored diamonds – called “cognac” in the industry – to which they offer an economical alternative.

Clarity is critical in brown sapphires. They must be eye-clean to have value. Any visible inclusion will cause a precipitous drop in the price of a brown sapphire.

Brown sapphires are found wherever corundum is mined, but comparatively few areas produce the clear, vividly saturated stones that qualify as gems.

Quality brown sapphires are mined in Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, Thailand, and Australia. This section is a comprehensive listing of every gem color we have, however there is still a very special variety of sapphire that shows phenomenon  and shouldn’t be missed (a star design on a cabochon stone), star sapphires.