In this article I’ll show you how to choose a sapphire engagement ring for your special someone. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but sapphires are making a comeback. In any event, you might as well start learning all about these blue beauties because sapphires are the traditional gemstone for both a 5th anniversary and 45th wedding anniversary!
Sparkling Facts About Sapphires
- Sapphires are the birthstone for September
- Sapphires have been prized long before the middle ages. Some of the first gems to ever be cut and polished were sapphires.
- Sapphires are members of the corundum family of minerals
- A ruby, one of the world’s most sought after gemstones, is actually a red sapphire
A highly valued gem type ideal for fine jewelry, the popularity of sapphire as a modern engagement ring option has grown in the past few years.
Don’t worry if the color blue doesn’t suite you, sapphires come in an array of different colors such as yellow, green, orange, pink, brown, red and clear.
The most popular color for couples in search of a sapphire engagement ring would have to be royal blue. No wonder, much media attention for blue sapphires has come since Princess Di’s 18 carat blue oval sapphire with diamond halo engagement ring found itself on Kate Middleton’s finger.
Stunning blue gemstones have been cherished for generations as a symbol for virtue, nobility, truth, holiness, wisdom and good fortune, long before Princess Kate received her ring!
Choosing the perfect sapphire ring is similar to choosing a quality diamond ring: there are several factors to consider. Although, selecting a sapphire engagement ring is a little harder because there are no standard measurements (like the 4C’s for diamonds). With the help of my friends from Blue Nile, let’s dive into the details and learn a bit more.
What Makes a Well Cut Sapphire?
First things first, sapphire do not have a standard guideline for an ideal cut. Each sapphire must be custom cut to help the finished gem display the best color and brilliance. Since sapphires come in an array of colors, each with distinctive properties, there are no specific proportion requirements. Therefore sapphires are generally not graded by a gem lab. Instead, jewelers set their own standards for cut, while focusing on the transparency and vibrant depth of color to rate quality.
The saturation of the color is also a key indicator of quality. Sapphires with an even coloring command a premium over both lighter, less saturated sapphires and darker, inkier ones.
What is the Best Shape for a Sapphire?
The most common shapes for a sapphire are usually oval, round, cushion, and emerald.
How are Sapphires Measured?
Gems tend to be heavier and can vary in density.
For example, a one carat sapphire will look slightly smaller than a one carat diamond.
A more accurate way to measure the size of a sapphire would be measuring its diameter in millimetres. And, a good rule of thumb is that a one carat sapphire generally measures 6 mm.
A Sapphire Engagement Ring for Everyday Wear?
Sapphires are great for everyday wear with excellent durability – they are nearly as hard as diamonds, which makes them very difficult to chip or break. They are also able to withstand heat, light, and chemicals making them ideal for everyday wear.
The Mohs Scale measures minerals specifically on their ability to withstand abrasions and scratching by other minerals. A diamond is rated at 10 on the Mohs scale, while a sapphire is rated at 9. This indicates that the sapphire has excellent hardness, so much so that the only other natural gemstone that could scratch a sapphire would be a diamond.
Most people think sapphire stones only come in the color blue. While cornflower (a.k.a. royal blue) sapphires are the most valuable, sapphires do come in a wide variety of colors, each with a different meaning.
Color is certainly an important factor when it comes to buying a gemstone. The color of a sapphire is what draws us in for a closer look and keeps us captivated. You know that you are getting a good quality gem when the color of the stone has the proper measurement of hue, tone, and saturation. If the gemstone doesn’t have these qualities, it may look colorless, grey or dull.
How is Color Graded?
A standardized color grading scale (like that of diamonds) doesn’t exist, which makes it more difficult to compare two sapphires. Use your own judgment or that of an experienced and trusted jeweller to determine whether one sapphire looks more vivid over another. Of course, the better the sapphire’s color, the higher the price tag.
Hue refers to the actual color of the sapphire. Hue is comprised of two parts: the color that is the strongest; and any other colors that may be slightly noticeable. A gemstone that has pure color and only slight hues of other colors would be the most valuable.
To get an idea, I will tell you that blue sapphires range in hue from “slightly purplish-blue” to “slightly greenish-blue,” pink sapphires always range from “pink” to “slightly purplish-pink,” and rubies range from “slightly orange-red” to “slightly purplish-red”.
Sapphire tone describes the depth of color – how light or dark the color is within the range of light, medium-light, medium, medium-dark, and dark. When shopping for a sapphire it is best to stay within a medium to dark range tone. The lighter the tones, the more watered down the overall appearance of the sapphire.
Saturation (or color purity) refers to the degree to which the gem is free from brown or grey hues. A gemstone that is describes as having vivid or strong color saturation, will not only be most desirable, but will show little brown or grey hues. The saturation scale ranges from dull/weak to pure vivid. Higher quality gems with pure vivid saturation are more expensive, but the extra money is worth it in my opinion.
It is very hard to find a sapphire that is without any imperfections or inclusions. Besides, flawless gemstones are extremely expensive!
Most sapphires on the market today will have been heat treated to improve both color and clarity. If they have not been treated at all, they too will have a big price tag attached.
Unlike diamonds, where inclusions are not highly regarded, the opposite is true for sapphires.
Sapphires for sale as engagement rings are usually treated to enhance their appearance. They will be labelled with either the words “heat treated” or “lab treated.” The process of treating a gemstone involves apply high temperature and pressure in a laboratory setting, which will then drastically change the tint color.
Gemstones that have not been treated, but still have the beautiful clarity and deep color, will sell for an extravagant price. It seems people always pay a premium for natural, one-of-a-kind gemstones that exhibit perfect qualities.
Once a color enhancement is complete, there will be no other special care as the treatment is permanent. However, there are other treatments to improve clarity such as infusion of colorless oil, resin, or wax, which may require more or less special care to avoid damage.
Accompanying Ring Setting
Once you have decided on a sapphire engagement ring, consider the ring’s setting and shape as much as you consider the quality of the stone.
Sapphires look beautiful when paired with accent diamonds, which sparkle and look stunning next to the deep blue sapphire.
Sapphires can also be accompanied by other colored stones, if desired. The most common shapes you will see are oval, round, cushion, and emerald. Most ring settings will be either silver or white gold.
Do Sapphires Offer Lasting Value?
Sapphires have been a highly prized gemstone throughout history, and still offer value in today’s world. Although cheaper than diamonds, sapphires are increasingly becoming more valued as a modern day engagement ring option. Princess Di was the first iconic figure to receive a sapphire ring as opposed to a diamond ring, and many others have since followed in her footsteps.
Our Recommended Ring Vendor
Blue Nile offers gemstones with sough-after tones that fall within the medium-light and medium-dark ranges, and each gemstone in their jewellery collections are hand selected for vivid colors.
I have recommended them in the past due to their great service and prices. In fact, they made it to Love & Lavender’s resource page as a trusted wedding vendor.
Start your sapphire search today, and be sure to let me know if you do end up purchasing a sapphire engagement ring!