Most commonly known for its shades of blue, Sapphires actually come in every color naturally. When it is a red color it is considered to be a Ruby. Sapphires and Rubies are the same mineral Corundum. These colors can either be dominant colors or modifying colors. Gemstones are referred to by their color names, i.e. pink sapphire, purple sapphire, and orange sapphire. Exceptions are the pink-orange or the orange-pink colors which are known as Padparadscha Sapphires, from the Sanskrit word describing the color of a lotus blossom.
Clarity is a very important factor to the value and identification of natural Sapphires. Sapphires are a type II clarity gemstone. What that means to us is that minor inclusions exists which may be eye visible, or may be well hidden requiring magnification to detect. An example of these inclusions are fine rutile needles called silk. Zircon crystals may also be present, sometimes surrounded by a halo and/or fingerprint inclusion. Color zoning is also commonly seen in Sapphires.
Sapphires of fine quality are generally found in sizes of 10 carats or less,although sapphires weighing hundred of carats can be found in museum collections. Fine quality sapphires are found in only a few countries in the world. Sapphires from Kashmir, Burma (Myanmar), and Sir Lanka are more rare, and fine quality stones can command higher prices. Other localities like Thailand, Cambodia, Australia and Madagascar have become very important sources of sapphires in recent times. In the United States, Montana is also well known for gem quality sapphires. Because the majority of Montana Sapphires are water worn stones found in alluvial deposits, they are usually a smaller size and finding larger stones is very difficult. Brazil, Colombia, India and North Carolina have all produced sapphires in smaller amounts therefore none of these areas would be considered a major source.
Sapphire is September’s traditional birthstone, and is also the preferred gift for a 5th and 45th wedding anniversary. It is a popular gemstone choice for brides who want something other than a traditional diamond. Sapphires are second to diamonds in hardness, making them ideal for all types of jewelry, especially rings.
Fans of sapphire engagement rings include Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, Joan Crawford and Jean Harlow.