Rubies & Sapphires - Part 1 Colors of Sapphire

Janet Lasher | 01 September, 2020

            Rubies & Sapphires - Part 1 Colors of Sapphire

Rubies and Sapphire – Part 1 Colors of Sapphire

Sapphires and rubies are considered precious gemstones, and both are a variety of the mineral corundum. The crystals of corundum have with small amounts of other elements (impurities) inside the crystal and that is what creates the colors that we see. – these impurities displace parts of the chemical crystals and that makes the gem crystal reflect light differently making us see different colors. (cool no?)

Corundum occurs in practically any color of the rainbow and are called ‘fancy’ or ‘parti’ colors. Except for red (we call red corundum rubies) corundum are called sapphires. So, yeah, ruby and sapphire are the same gemstone… that is they have the same primary chemical composition, but we see different colors because of the different ‘impurities’ that were mixed in the crystals when they were being formed.

Corundum gemstones have been used in jewelry and reliquary for centuries – because they are among the hardest gems around.  They are rated 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness; diamonds are the only gemstone that is harder, rated 10 on the scale.

These are considered the 3 of the 4 precious gemstones, the fourth being emerald. These stone wear very well when set in jewelry and are often used for everyday pieces such as engagement rings.

You are probably familiar with the most recognizable sapphire that is dark blue, one of the most sought after blue colors are from mines in Sri Lanka. But sapphires also can be yellow, purple, orange, and many hues of green and multi-colored.

For some reason, red are corundum are called rubies – but a very popular and beautiful sapphire is pink. The pink color can vary in shade from light to dark – with the deeper the color being more valuable. The pink color comes from chromium in the crystal. There is also a special name for a uniquely beautiful pinkish-orange sapphire. It is called padparadscha -which are beautiful and highly prized. The padparadscha sapphire was originally found in Sri Lanka, it is now mined in Vietnam and in East Africa. In general, naturally found sapphires in this color are rare and some on the market may be modified chemically to enhance their color.

If you hear a gemstone called padparadscha – it means it is this pinkish-orange color – so unless it is specifically called a sapphire – it could be another stone.