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Sapphire Colors & Varieties

Blue Sapphires

The Appeal Of Blue Sapphires

Blue sapphires come in various hues, from pale baby blue to rich royal blue. The most prized color is strong vivid velvety blue to violetish blue, in medium to medium dark tones.

The Standard For Blue Sapphires

For a sapphire is to be called “blue,” its secondary colors (e.g. green or purple) must not account for more than 15% of its color. Sapphires that have secondary colors in greater quantity would be classified as greenish blue, purplish blue, violet, etc.  These are known as “unique” or “fancy colored” sapphires. They should be classified differently and priced accordingly.

A 69.35 carat natural untreated oval blue sapphire
A 69.35 carat natural untreated oval blue sapphire

What Is The Availability Of These Gems?

Blue sapphires that are eye-clean or entirely free of inclusions are uncommon, especially in larger sizes.  Sapphires with some internal inclusions are still highly valued, as long as the inclusions do not reduce brilliance, obscure color, or otherwise detract from the stone’s beauty.Silk inclusions are acceptable in blue sapphires, as long as they are not so dense that they compromise color or brilliance.  In fact, silk inclusions can increase the value of a stone by giving it a velvety look like prized Kashmir sapphires.Though supplies of commercial quality blue sapphire are now reliable, high quality blue rough has always been scarce and costly.  Blue sapphires of one carat weight or more are not usually cut to calibrated sizes or standard shapes.  Instead, each stone is shaped to maximize yield from the rough crystal.  This means that matched pairs are hard to find in larger sizes.

How Does Cut Affect The Color?

In blue sapphires, the cut can influence color in surprising ways.  Sapphires are dichroic stones, meaning their color varies depending on the angle from which a stone is viewed.  Viewed in one direction, most blue sapphires appear blue to violet-blue, from another direction, they will appear slightly greenish blue.  A skilled cutter will orient their stones when cutting so that the most desired blue to violet-blue color shows through the finished gem.

Where Can They Be Found?

A blue sapphire showing dichroic properties
A blue sapphire showing dichroic properties

Blue sapphires are found in a number of locations around the world including Kashmir, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Thailand, Australia, Tanzania, and the state of Montana in the United States. These days the next most prized sapphire color after blue is pink!