Blog / Gemstones

Sapphire: A guide to Colours & Varieties

Tuesday August 23, 2022
Stephen Sutton

When you think of a sapphire, you think of a richly coloured blue gemstone. But, what many people don’t realise is that September’s birthstone gemstone (also used for the 45th wedding anniversary) are available in a wide selection of colours – from pink and yellow to white and that classic royal blue that we know and love. In this blog, we’ll explore the rainbow of colour options that sapphires come in, along with the types of jewellery that sapphires are well suited to and the rarity of each hue.

Sapphire Jewellery

Sapphire Jewellery

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What are sapphires?

Sapphires are one of the ‘Big Three’ gemstones, along with emeralds and rubies, and they’re naturally formed from a mineral known as corundum. Sapphires are popular for their rich colour and have been used for centuries by royalty and the wealthy, making them one of the most sought-after gemstones. These gems almost always have some form of inclusion or flaw, and if you have a completely unmarked, flawless sapphire, chances are it is synthetic. A key feature of sapphires is their colour saturation, as it’s banded it can leave colour striations – whereas in synthetic stones these are often evenly curved, from the grown crystal.

While sapphires can be found in blue, pink, green and other colours, the only colour you won’t find them in is red. This is because gemstones formed from red corundum are what we know as rubies. The trace elements in corundum crystals are what change the colour of a sapphire, changing how the light reflects and refracts. These trace minerals are naturally found in sapphires formed under the earth’s crust millions of years ago.

How are sapphires assessed for quality?

Each sapphire is evaluated in its own right, because there’s currently no global standard for assessing sapphires. In a similar way to diamonds, sapphires need to have good clarity, meaning a lack of flaws or cloudiness, and the colour must be rich, bright and vivid.
Sapphire colours

Besides the classic blue, you’ll find sapphires in a wide range of different colours. Some are commercially sold while others are rarer and as such tend to be collectable.

Pear Shape Sapphire & Diamond Solitaire Ring Sapphire & Diamond Flower Cluster Ring Oval Sapphire & Diamond Cluster Ring
0.60ct Pear Shape Sapphire & Diamond Solitaire Ring 0.72ct Sapphire & Diamond Flower Cluster Ring 1.00ct Oval Sapphire & Diamond Cluster Ring
 £1,195  £1,885  £3,650


Blue sapphires

Blue is the classic colour that most people think of when they picture a sapphire, and it’s naturally the most common. Blue sapphires can range from light blue to a more intense blue-black hue, and they’re a favourite for earrings, pendant necklaces and alternative engagement rings.

Pink Sapphire & Diamond Solitaire Ring Oval Pink Sapphire & Diamond Trilogy Ring Oval Pink Sapphire & Diamond Trilogy Ring
0.90ct Pink Sapphire & Diamond Solitaire Ring 1.25ct Oval Pink Sapphire & Diamond Trilogy Ring 0.80ct Oval Pink Sapphire & Diamond Trilogy Ring
 £1,250  £1,950  £2,250


Pink sapphires

Pink sapphires may be light pink all the way to deep fuchsia, and providing that the colour is clear and bright, all of these shades are accepted as genuine sapphire. But bear in mind that there’s a fine line when a pink sapphire crosses into red and becomes a ruby, a colour distinction that’s never been officially declared. With this in mind, if you’re buying a pink sapphire piece, it’s up to you to pick a shade you prefer. Pink sapphires are quite rare, so they can be more expensive.

Yellow sapphires

This gemstone can range from a pale lemon colour to intense tangerine. Experts tend to agree that the golden-orange-coloured sapphires are the best and more desirable, but customers often choose a lighter yellow because they can make for a more affordable alternative to yellow diamonds.

Green sapphires

From pale olive to deep bottle green, green sapphires can come in all shades, but most people who want green gemstone jewellery tend to prefer emeralds for the richer colour. Green sapphires do have an advantage over emeralds, however, as they’re harder and more durable, making them a great alternative if you want something more affordable and long-lasting.

White sapphires

Sapphires can also come in monochromatic tones too, and a colourless sapphire is referred to as a white sapphire. They’re one of the rarest colours of sapphire, and are often used as an accent stone in jewellery or as an alternative to diamonds.

Padparadscha sapphires

Padparadscha is one of the rarest hues of this particular gemstone, and as such it’s one of the most expensive – often seen on the hands of the rich and famous throughout history. They’re a peachy-orange colour and the name refers to a lotus flower. They’re often sold as collector’s items due to how rare and costly they are – in fact, one of the most famous uses of this stone was in Princess Eugenie’s engagement ring.

Star sapphires

If a sapphire isn’t blue, black or colourless, it’s referred to as a ‘fancy sapphire’ – and one of the most prominent fancy sapphires is the star sapphire. This is a unique gemstone that has a characteristic known as ‘asterism’ which is a star-light light reflection that can have a blue, black, grey, pink, white, purple or yellow body. These gems have an earthy, mysterious feel to them that suits all types of jewellery.

Rainbow Coloured Sapphire & Round Brilliant Cut Diamond Bridge Style Ring Square Cut Rainbow Sapphire & Brilliant Cut Diamond Hoop Earrings 14ct White Gold Multi-Sapphire Necklace
0.71ct Rainbow Coloured Sapphire & Round Brilliant Cut Diamond Bridge Style Ring 1.24ct Square Cut Rainbow Sapphire & Brilliant Cut Diamond Hoop Earrings 14ct White Gold Multi-Sapphire Necklace
 £2,175  £2,430  £1,425


What makes sapphires the perfect choice for jewellery?

Sapphires are incredibly hardy, durable gemstones that are second only to diamonds. For this reason, it’s a wonderful choice for jewellery you want to last, such as memorable pieces, engagement rings and wedding bands. The beauty of sapphires is that, because they come in such a beautiful spectrum of colours, you’re guaranteed to find one that you love. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so whether rich blues are your preference, a pale lemon sapphire or a rich olive green, you can find a sapphire that is flattering to your tastes. Green and yellow sapphires are a unique choice that stands out, or you might want something uniquely feminine and elegant such as padparadscha sapphire.

Final thoughts

Sapphires are elegant, luxurious and sure to stand out in any jewellery piece you choose. From sophisticated drop earrings and colourful pendants to rings, bracelets or unique cufflinks, sapphires make a wonderful addition to any piece of jewellery. This graceful gemstone adds colour and vibrancy to any outfit and looks great on all ages.

For beautiful, high quality gemstone jewellery, please do not hesitate to browse our selection online or visit our store. If you have any questions, you can contact us, and we’d be happy to help.

Stephen SuttonHead of Sales