Sapphire Ring Buying Guide
The brilliant blue gemstone that has mesmerized millions for millennia, the sapphire, is the birthstone of the September-born. Exotic green sapphire rings, pink sapphire rings, and the more traditional blue sapphire and diamond ring have adorned the fingers of the rich, famous, and the holiest of all human history. Sapphire was considered a sacred stone by the ancient Persians and the Catholic Church.
A gold sapphire ring represents wisdom, holiness, virtue, and good fortune. Sapphire wedding rings and sapphire engagement rings symbolize faithfulness and sincerity in a marriage. This sapphire rings buying guide will give you all the information you need to know about choosing a good sapphire for your ring… and more!
Where are sapphires mined?
Sapphire is among the rarest of gemstones and is found naturally only in specific locations in the world. Sri Lanka, Kashmir in India and Burma are renowned for their high-quality blue sapphire. Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia also have considerable reserves of sapphire that are often preferred for white sapphire rings.
When the molten igneous rocks cool down slowly, they form coarse grained Corundum under the surface of the earth. These igneous rocks result in the formation of sapphires. The presence of Vanadium causes violet colored sapphires.
Blue sapphire rings in history and folklore
Sapphires have enchanted the Regal and the common folk alike for centuries. These blue gems have adorned the rings and crowns of many valiant emperors and beautiful queens of the past. Sapphires are believed to cure illnesses and counter curses.
Persians envisioned the earth supported on a pedestal made of sapphire. They also believed that these stones reflected blue light that colored the sky azure! Those of the Abrahamic faith claimed that the Ten Commandments that Moses received were inscribed on two sapphire tablets.
Indian folklore has it that the legendary ‘Wishing Tree’ or ‘Kalpatharu’ that grants the wishes of its seekers had roots of Sapphires. Greek mythology refers to the Star Sapphire that belonged to Helen of Troy and empowered her. The mysterious ‘Seal of Solomon’ belonged to King Solomon and made him capable of talking to animals and commanding demons.
Qualities and properties of sapphire
Though sapphire is usually associated with Royalty and does have its place of pride in museums, crown jewels, and pompous weddings, it is but the oxide of Aluminum and belongs to the corundum species! In fact, sapphires have many lesser-known uses – the rough material used for polishing (on Emery boards) is a lower quality of corundum grains along with quartz, hematite, and magnetite.
- Sapphire is Aluminum oxide in a trigonal crystalline form.
- It is a gemstone with the hardness index of 9 on the Mohs scale and is quite resistant to chips and cracks.
- Sapphires are transparent to opaque.
- It is a dichroic stone with strong to moderate shades of varying colors.
- Sapphires have a clarity grading of Type 2. They have crystal inclusions. Heat-treated sapphires will have fracture halos around the inclusions. Untreated stones have the inclusions intact.
- Sapphires have better clarity than rubies. However, it is very rare to find sapphires without any inclusions. They usually have long, slender mineral inclusions that resemble needles. So, jewelers call them silk. Such inclusions in sapphire make it less desirable for sapphire wedding rings.
Color of sapphire
Yellow sapphire ring encircled with diamonds
White emerald ring with diamonds
Blue emerald ring in Sterling silver
Green emerald ring with diamonds in gold
Sapphires exist in every color of the spectrum – blue, pink, purple, black, yellow, orange – except red. Interestingly, a rare peach-colored Padparadscha sapphire was the centerpiece of Princess Eugenie’s sapphire engagement ring.
Although all sapphires are the same mineral, corundum, the presence of trace minerals such as chromium, magnesium, vanadium, copper, or titanium determines the color of the sapphire. Chromium results in the rare pink sapphire and titanium gives the classic blue sapphire,
Even for the same base color, sapphire will have different shades depending on intensity. Hue represents the main color of the stone. Tone refers to the darkness or lightness of the stone. Saturation is the vividness of the sapphire’s color.
Cut of sapphire
Diamonds around the world have a standard cut that is proven to enhance its brilliance. However, in case of sapphire rings, each sapphire is custom-cut depending on the gemstone’s crystal structure. The cut is unique to each stone.
A sapphire that is cut well will display its brilliance and luster best. When the sapphire is dark, the cut will be shallow so that more light enters and reflects within the stone, thus softening and brightening its color. If the sapphire’s color is a light tone, it is cut deeper in order to add intensity and dimension to the color.
Whatever the shape of sapphire, the edges must be symmetrical and even. The crown or the top of the stone should be even in size and the ‘table’ or the largest facet of the crown should be centered and symmetric too.
Blue sapphire gold wedding ring
Rose gold and Sterling silver blue sapphire engagement ring
Cost of sapphire rings
Because of their rarity and the aura of grandeur surrounding them, white gold sapphires remain one of the most expensive gemstones that are elusive to many. The fewer the inclusions, the costlier the sapphire because inclusions may threaten the durability of the stone. Kashmir sapphires, however, are highly valued despite their tiny inclusions that cause the star effect (also known as ‘asterism’). Rather, their value is because of the brilliant intersecting bands caused by their imperfection.
- Sapphires can cost anything from $50 to $10,000 per carat but the most expensive sapphire sold at a whopping $135,000 per carat.
- The value of sapphire depends on how close the stone is to its pure blue coloration. Saturation of color and tone also play an important role is assessing the value.
- Kashmir sapphires are expensive and are mined from the Himalayan height for only a few months in a year. They have beautiful luster (‘luster’ is the way light behaves within the crystal) and have a velvet-like look that is peculiar to the stone.
- A sapphire of 1-2 carats for a white gold sapphire ring could cost $800-$1200 for a carat. Synthetic sapphires created in labs are nearly perfect without any visible inclusions, but cost much lower.
- The price is proportional to clarity and rarity of the sapphire.
Spiritual meaning and healing qualities of gold sapphire rings
Sapphire is the ‘wisdom’ stone among the gems. Each color of the stone imparts a specific wisdom. It also has many healing and therapeutic properties attributed to it based on the Chakra.
- Sapphire aligns the spiritual, mental, and physical planes of the body and brings about a balance. It eases mental tension, spiritual confusion, and wards off depression.
- It brings peace of mind and serenity.
- It improves concentration and makes the mind feel light and joyful.
- This stone of prosperity fulfils aspirations, dreams, and desires. It attracts gifts.
- It strengthens the walls of veins and combats excessive bleeding and other disorders of the blood. Sapphires regulate and calm overactive systems of the body.
- Sapphire encourages creativity, intuition, optimism generosity, loyalty, and spiritual development.
Without any doubt, the most popular sapphire ring in history was the sapphire and diamond engagement ring of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.
How to buy sapphire wedding ring
Buying a sapphire for your wedding ring can be a formidable task because there are several factors to analyze. It is necessary to know how to evaluate the value of sapphire while ensuring its good quality.
Follow these guidelines to avoid getting disappointed with your purchase.
- Decide the tone of blue: Sapphires are available in a range of blue shades – from navy blue to a light pastel blue (called Sweden princess). Royal blue is the most popular as well as the costliest. If you want a more affordable sapphire, look for Camelot or Commodore blue.
- Avoid undesirable hues: When you shop for sapphire wedding rings with the original stone, avoid hues of other colors. Pure blue indicates authentic sapphire but ones with slight purple tints are also acceptable. Greenish and strong purple tints are not desirable.
- Check the transparency of the stone: If the sapphire is transparent, it will appear more brilliant. Do not overlook transparency because semi-opaque and opaque gemstones block the light and render the stone dull-looking. Transparent sapphires are also more expensive.
- Colored sapphires cost lesser: Since sapphires of shades other than blue cost lesser, look for yellow sapphire rings or green sapphire rings.
- Place of origin of the sapphire: The place from where the sapphire is mined has a huge say in determining its price tag. It is similar to paying a price for the brand name. Sapphires mined from Burma, Kashmir and Sri Lanka are pricier because of their superior quality.
- Cut is important: The facets of the sapphire’s surface allow color and light to shine, giving the gemstone its blue brilliance. Therefore, the deeper the cut of the sapphire ring, the deeper will be the color. Shallow-cut sapphires are usually of a lighter tone. The cut of a sapphire falls in different categories such as excellent-very good-good-fair-poor.
- Find the clarity grade of sapphire: Clear sapphires with no inclusions are hard to find and are very expensive. The rating for clarity is done by GIA as –
- VVS (slightly included), followed by VS (slight inclusion), and then SI1 stones that have slight inclusions. Nevertheless, the inclusions in the above grades do not affect how brilliant the sapphire is.
- SI2-rated sapphires have inclusions that are visible only upon magnification but they do affect the brilliance of the stone.
- I1, I2, I3 ratings classify sapphires that have both inclusions and visible surface blemishes even without magnifying glasses.
- Heat-treated sapphires are affordable: Majority of sapphires available in the market are heat-treated. Sapphires, when heated at high temperatures for several hours, have deeper color of the stone. They look genuine and are very nominally priced.
- Check for authenticity: Several stones of blue color are fraudulently passed off as sapphires. Blue Tourmaline, Tanzanite, and blue spinel look very much like sapphires. When in doubt, ask for the certificate of authenticity from GIA.
Interesting facts about sapphires
Now that you know the qualities of genuine sapphire stones, be intrigued by some lesser-known facts about these brilliant stones –
- Considered the gemstone that symbolizes sincerity and faithfulness, sapphires rings are gifted to commemorate the 5th as well as the 45th wedding anniversaries of couples.
- Sapphires are among the hardest of gemstones, second only to diamonds.
- Persians of ancient times thought that the entire globe rested on a large sapphire and that the reflection of this sapphire caused the skies to be blue!
- Traces of titanium and iron present in the mineral Corundum are responsible for the blue color of sapphire.
- Sapphires of all colors but red can be found in nature. Red rubies are also of the same family as sapphires – they are both from Corundum.
- Until the 17th century, sapphires were an elite class of gems reserved for the royal families and religious heads (and hence the name, ‘Royal blue’?). In fact, it was a punishable offense for commoners to wear sapphires!
- Sapphires are said to be magical gems with healing powers. They were the antidotes for poison and used to treat eye problems.
- Padparadscha, a sapphire of pink-orange color is the rarest of all sapphires. The name is of Sanskrit origin and means, ‘the lotus flower’.