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What Color is Sapphire? A Guide to All Colors & Varieties

what color is sapphireWhat color is sapphire? If you’re not sure, you’re not alone! Sapphires come in a variety of colors, but blue is the most famous and true sapphire color. Sapphire is both a deeply saturated blue color and a precious gemstone. 

Ever heard someone’s baby blues referred to as sapphire blue? That’s because sapphire blue is a striking color named after a gemstone!

That said, there are a variety of blue sapphire shades, as well as a spectrum of sapphire colors, which we’ll explore in this article. When talking about sapphire stone color, you may also hear it referred to as sapphire blue or blue sapphire.

Can sapphires be different colors? Absolutely! On your gemstone quest, you’ll come across sapphires in yellow, green, pink, peach, white, blue, orange, and more colors.

If sapphire colors are this varied, what makes blue the true color of sapphire? Let’s find out in this guide to sapphire stone colors and varieties!

Why Does Sapphire Have Different Colors?

What is sapphire, and why does it come in so many colors? Sapphire is a gemstone from the corundum mineral family, but when the stone forms and traps in trace elements like iron and chromium, the color changes.

As we mentioned above, sapphires are blue gemstones, but within this shade are immense variations. Sapphires are dichroic, which means that the color you see varies depending on which angle you view the stone. 

For instance, holding a blue sapphire at one angle may yield a blueish-purple color, but shift the direction, and it may look blueish-green.

What additional factors influence sapphire colors? Like diamonds, features like cut, tone, saturation, and hue influence a sapphire’s desirability and value.

Below, we’ve shared a brief overview of factors contributing to different sapphire colors:

  • Cut. The cut is especially prominent in affecting blue sapphires. A skilled gem cutter will cut the stone to best showcase the most vivid saturation of blue to blue-violet. However, lighter blue sapphires require more technical cutting to remove inclusions that are more visible in light stones.

  • Saturation. A sapphire’s saturation varies from vivid to weak, and trace minerals in brown or gray can mute or intensify the stone’s saturation.

  • Hue. We mentioned that sapphires come in various hues, and within each color is a sub-range of hues. For example, blue sapphires range from sky blue to blueish-black, while pink sapphires vary from baby pink to reddish-pink. 

  • Tone. Tone influences sapphire colors, resulting in sapphires from very light to very dark.

Why does sapphire have different colors? The reason sapphires vary in color is due to impurities within each stone. While a blue sapphire gets its color from the trace presence of titanium and iron, the tiniest presence of iron can result in a pale yellow sapphire.

However, it’s the unique interaction of corundum (sapphire’s main mineral), titanium, and iron that create the signature, vivid, intensely saturated sapphire blue color.

But as you can imagine, any shift in a stone’s mineral composition will result in a color shift. In the next section, we’ve compiled a sapphire color chart to help you better understand each sapphire color meaning and variety.

Sapphire Colors & Varieties

Blue Sapphires

We’ve talked a lot about sapphires, but what is the true color of a sapphire stone? Blue is the true sapphire color, the September birthstone, and the Taurus zodiac stone. But what makes blue the most preferred of the sapphire colors? 

For one, blue sapphires are the only variation that describes a gemstone and a color. So captivating is blue sapphire that it’s caught the eyes of royal figures for centuries. Sapphire stone meaning personifies wisdom and power — a necessary trinket for kings and queens.

Until the infamous DeBeers campaign that made diamonds the most popular engagement ring stone, sapphires were the preferred gemstone. And that’s because they reigned supreme for thousands of years. Sapphires have adorned emperors and royalty since the dawn of civilization, and what color sapphire did these prominent figures flaunt? Blue.

So, what makes a sapphire blue? In gemology, a sapphire’s color must be 75% blue to be considered a true blue sapphire. If its secondary colors exceed 15%, then it’s no longer a blue sapphire but a “fancy colored” sapphire, i.e., greenish-blue, violet-blue, or red-blue.

blue sapphireWhat color is sapphire blue, then?

The most highly desired blue sapphires are dark, vivid, and richly saturated. Many people call this shade “royal blue,” but others call it “cornflower blue.”

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Blue sapphires primarily come from Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Kashmir, Thailand, Australia, Nigeria, Nigeria, and Montana, USA. 

Purple Sapphires

Can sapphires be purple? Absolutely! When a blue sapphire has vanadium in its composition, it becomes a purple sapphire! Purple sapphires have a stunning plum hue exhibiting bright clarity. You may also see purple sapphires called amethystine, thanks to their resemblance to amethyst gemstones. 

Purple sapphires are soft gemstones in lilac tones, but they can also appear darker when balanced with a dark body tone. Most purple sapphires are heat-treated to even the stone’s hues and deepen the vibrance. 

What does a purple sapphire mean? Purple is a bright, happy color, and purple sapphires can boost joy and stave off negative influences.

purple sapphire

Are purple sapphires valuable? Like all sapphires, the value depends on the stone’s color, cut, clarity, carat weight, tone, hue, and saturation. That said, purple sapphires are rare, making them a desirable and valuable gemstone. 

Orange Sapphires

The orange sapphire gemstone is an eye-catcher, ranging in bright warm hues to deeply saturated, reddish-orange. What influences orange sapphire colors? A unique fusion of chromium provides red and iron brings the yellow. The result? A warm-hued, vividly saturated gemstone that’s currently trending as orange sapphire engagement rings.

Orange sapphire meaning represents joy and abundance, energizing you with creative stimulation and stamina. What about value? Like purple sapphires, orange sapphires commonly receive heat treatment. However, finding an untreated, deeply saturated orange sapphire is like finding a needle in a haystack — so they’ll have a higher price tag, but ultimately, be worth the investment!

orange sapphire with beryllium treatment

Yellow Sapphires

These golden-hued gems are a sparkling burst of joy, combining the prestige of being a precious gem with the flair of a fancy-colored gemstone. Yellow sapphires almost exclusively come from Sri Lanka. One glance at this stone, and you’ll see that yellow sapphire meaning is beaming with exuberance, life, and vitality.

The yellow sapphire stone gets its color from the tiniest trace of iron in the gemstone’s chemical composition. Closely resembling yellow diamonds, these gems are becoming a desirable diamond alternative for brides in the market for yellow sapphire engagement rings.

yellow sapphire

Green Sapphires

Green gemstones have long been regarded as good fortune trinkets, and green sapphires are no different! But we’re not talking about wealth. Green sapphire meaning imbues you with calm, tranquility, and trust — attracting love and positive relationships. But what do they offer as a gem-quality stone?

Compared to another precious green gem, the emerald, the green sapphire stone is slightly underrated due to its muted hues. But don’t cast aside green sapphire color, because there’s a place for olive, mint, and aqua sapphires in the market. 

So, why are they green?

The same iron that turns white sapphires yellow turns blue sapphires green. In other words, combining corundum with iron creates a green sapphire! That said, these green gemstones don’t exhibit vivid coloring because of their light-colored yellow and blue undertones. 

Lighter gemstones like yellow sapphires gain saturation from darker red or green undertones. However, green sapphires have lighter undertones making them more subdued. But that’s also what makes them so tranquil and calming! 

green sapphire

Pink Sapphires

Do you love hot pink? Then you’ll adore pink sapphires! These richly saturated pink gemstones are alluring and head-turning, ranging from light pink to reddish-pink. Pink is a show-stopper, so it makes perfect sense that pink sapphire engagement rings are trending right now. 

However, there is a caveat: pale pink sapphires show the most inclusions, so lapidaries have to cut away specific areas to obtain the type of brilliance and clarity seen in pink diamonds.

We know they’re pretty, but why are they pink? The presence of chromium gives pink sapphires their feminine coloring. However, too much chromium turns the gem red. Any guesses as to which gemstone this results in? We’ll come back to this pop question later! 

Next, let’s look at a close relative of the pink sapphire that’s not quite pink and not quite orange but also happens to be one of the rarest colors of sapphire!

pink sapphire

Padparadscha Sapphires

What is the rarest color of sapphire? Whether you’ve heard of padparadscha sapphires or not, once you see this stunning gem, it may become one of your favorite sapphire colors! Who can resist wearing a sunset on their finger? Well, that’s what you get with padparadscha sapphires — a pink-orange gem that’s one of the rarest gemstones in the world. 

As you might imagine, this rarity comes at a cost. Are padparadscha sapphires expensive? Yes, indeed, because tracking them down isn’t easy. Why are they so rare? Because they aren’t quite orange, and they aren’t quite pink. 

Ok, then what color is padparadscha sapphire?

The unique salmon tone happens when chromium and iron get together. But why isn’t it just a pink sapphire, then? Because under particular conditions — extreme heat to be exact — the trace presence of beryllium transforms muted pink sapphires into a rich pinkish-orange hue that’s absolutely enviable!

However, this rare occurrence means you won’t find many padparadscha sapphires on the market. If you do, you may have to grab them before someone else does!

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White Sapphires

Let’s talk about a sapphire color that has no color at all: white sapphires. How can a sapphire be colorless? Well, if pure corundum doesn’t come into contact with any of the minerals we’ve listed here — iron, chromium, beryllium, titanium — then it remains white or colorless. 

What’s interesting about these colorless gems is that they depart from the desirable traits of colored sapphires (hue, vibrance, tone), yet they remain prevalent. And there’s a good reason for that: White sapphires are excellent diamond-alternatives. 

With a hardness second only to diamonds, and a much lower price point, white sapphire engagement rings are desirable and budget-friendly. However, lack of color means inclusions are on display, so many white sapphires are best suited as accent stones. 

white sapphire

Chameleon Sapphires

We’ve talked a lot about the mineral interaction that influences the different colors of sapphires. But sometimes, it’s difficult to pinpoint a sapphire color on a color-changing gemstone! Hello, chameleon sapphires have entered the chat.

Chameleon sapphires are just like they sound: color-changing gems that look different in various lighting conditions. The effect is called pleochroism, and it occurs when blue sapphires suddenly shift to purple, or vice versa.

For gems that seem to defy any sapphire color rules, how do we value chameleon sapphires? Ultimately, it boils down to the intensity of the color change. For example, if the color change is weak or hard to detect, the value will lower. But if a radiant orange sapphire looks yellow under incandescent light, it’ll fetch a pretty penny!

color change sapphires

Star Sapphires

As we round out our list of sapphire colors and varieties, we should mention a novelty: star sapphires. Yes, these phenomenal gemstones look like they have a star twinkling across the top of the gem. Why? Well, all sapphires have inclusions, and they’re silky, rutile, needle-like shapes. 

They’re not always visible, but when light passes through certain inclusions, they can create an optical illusion called asterism. 

The most prized star sapphires exhibit significant contrast between the sapphire’s color and the milky white star effect. And just when you thought sapphires couldn’t get any better!

star sapphires

Are There Red Sapphires?

We’ve looked at all the different colors of sapphires, except one: red. Why is that? Sapphires indeed come in nearly every color, so why yellow and orange, but not red? Remember when we said that the presence of too much chromium in a corundum gem would turn it red? 

Well, that red transformation creates a ruby gemstone! Just enough chromium makes a pink sapphire, but if you invite too much to the party, and you get a ruby. 

But hey, ruby gets a gemstone name of its own, so we think it made out pretty good!

Why? Because oddly, the excessive chromium is sort of considered an imperfection. Well, we can think of few imperfections as gorgeous as a ruby! 

ruby

Looking to Buy Colored Sapphires? 

The sapphire color spectrum is fascinating, and there’s a color for everyone! So, which is your favorite sapphire color? 

As we conclude, remember that true sapphire is blue, but as you’ve learned, this stone is diverse, offering an exciting color palette! Are you looking to buy sapphire gemstones? 

Find your favorite sapphire color from Gem Rock Auctions today!


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