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Sapphire Colors & Varieties

Padparadscha Sapphires

The mysterious and extremely rare padparadscha sapphires offer unique blends of orange, pink, and yellow tones to create a truly special gemstone.

The Appeal Of Padparadscha Sapphires

Padparadscha sapphires are one of the rarest of sapphires. These extremely rare stones are unknown to most, but when discovered usually become an absolute favorite. They are strikingly beautiful and almost no other colored stone compares to this unique mix of pink and orange.

padparadscha cushion cut sapphire
One of our most gorgeous padparadscha sapphires in a cushion cut.

Sunsets, lotus flowers and tropical fruits – the color range of a padparadscha falls within a mix of 2 colors: pink and orange. “Padparadscha” is an ancient Sanskrit word used to describe the color of a tropical lotus flower. One of the rarest gemstones of the world, Padparadscha sapphires are rivaled by no other gemstone species or color substitute.

Along with the gorgeous color, the uniqueness and rarity of the padparadscha sapphire is extremely appealing. As people continue to gravitate towards this special gemstone, more examples are being seen, leading to even greater interest.

The Standard For Padparadscha Sapphires

Ceylon padparadscha oval sapphire ring
A delicate oval padparadscha sapphire ring with round diamonds imitating side stones.

The term “padparadscha” is derived from the Sinhalese word for an aquatic lotus blossom, which has an unusual salmon color.  Many agree that padparadschas straddle the color boundary between pink and orange. Some padparadscha sapphires are not evenly salmon colored, but rather color zoned with pink and yellow.

Padparadscha sapphires may be little known to the general public, but they are treasured by gemstone connoisseurs. Yet after decades of debate, collectors, dealers, and gemologists cannot agree on a uniform standard for the padparadscha color range.  Points of contention include how pink or how orange these sapphires can be, and whether certain tones are too dark to qualify.  

How Does Cut Affect The Color?

oval cushion cut padparadscha sapphire
A stunning oval cushion cut padparadscha sapphire.

Clarity is an important element for padparadschas because their light tones easily reveal inclusions . Any sort of cloudiness will dull a padparadscha’s delicate color. Nevertheless these stone are so rare that consumers may have to sacrifice high clarity in order to obtain a stone with brilliant color.

The extreme scarcity of padparadscha rough means that cut stones will be shaped to conserve as much material as possible.  This also means that padparadschas may have unusual, asymmetrical cuts. All of these aspects can be downplayed with the right setting.

What Is The Availability Of These Gems?

padparadscha diamond sapphire ring
A gorgeous oval padparadscha and diamond three-stone ring.

Because of the high prices that these rare sapphires command, many treatments have been developed to create padparadscha-like color in sapphires.  In the late 1990s, the world gem market experienced a sudden influx of padparadscha sapphires.  Consumer enthusiasm turned to outrage when it was discovered that these stones had been colored by a radical new treatment method.  

When heated to extreme temperatures in the presence of beryllium, poorly colored pink sapphires can emerge with an exquisite pinkish-orange to orangish-pink “padparadscha” color. Beryllium penetrates deep into the sapphire, making it extremely difficult to detect. Gemologists have since developed reliable testing procedures for beryllium diffusion .

Sri Lankan padparadscha sapphire crystal
A piece of Sri Lankan padparadscha rough crystal.

Within our inventory you will see that some of our padparadscha sapphires are certified as heat-treated .  This should not be confused with beryllium diffusion treated sapphires.  We offer both heated and untreated padparadscha sapphires because there are so few stones available on the market.  The prices for fine untreated padparadschas are quite demanding and only a few have the opportunity to purchase them.  Even heated padparadscha sapphires are quite expensive if they are good quality.  Therefore, we do make an exception in offering heated (NO beryllium diffusion) padparadschas.

Padparadschas from Madagascar are usually pink with a small trace of orange.  When they are heated at relatively low temperatures – compared to other heat sapphire colors – and for a shorter period of time, the color may be improved.  We usually recommend a low-heat Madagascar padparadscha over a high temperature heated Sri Lankan (Ceylon) padparadscha.  

Where Can They Be Found?

padparadscha brilliant cut sapphire
A lovely example of a “salmon” colored padparadscha sapphire.

Padparadscha sapphires are mainly found in Sri Lanka, as well as Madagascar and Tanzania. Some experts insist that true padparadschas can only come from Sri Lanka, which, for centuries, was the only source of this coveted stone.  We feel that the finest stones do in fact come from Sri Lanka, but Madagascar is now producing a major percentage of the stones available on the market.  

The stones from Madagascar are usually more pink than orange, and are a very beautiful and welcome addition to the padparadscha supply.

Insider View from the President of The Natural Sapphire Company:

For padparadscha sapphires, it’s a tough situation because there are so few natural stones available.  This ultra rare mix of orange and pink is without a doubt the rarest color in a sapphire. Demand is so high, and growing, the prices will surely continue to climb every year, and I do bend my own rules when it comes to considering a fine quality heated padparadscha.

padparadscha oval sapphire
A perfect “sunset” colored oval padparadscha sapphire.

One of my absolute favorite stones in our inventory is a heated padparadscha.  Usually the heated pads are not put in very high temperature ovens. They’re heated at what is considered lower temperature, and the color doesn’t change that much, from my experience.  

I can usually see the difference just in how the light reflects out of the sapphire, since the inclusions haven’t been altered much when the stone is been heated at lower temperature. Very high heated padparadschas will have a muted, overly orange, or color zoned effect and those I like a lot less.

Going from intense color to colorless, next we enter the sparkly and clear world of White Sapphires.

 

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