Sapphire is often thought of as being synonymous with the color blue: you can easily picture sapphire seas. However, sapphire is beautiful beyond blue, in every color but red, red being the domain of the ruby.
The other colors of sapphire can be just as beautiful and rare - or even rarer - than the blue, but they are usually offered at more modest prices. Yellow, orange, lavender, and other pastel shades are especially affordable.
Long ago, it was decided that all gemstones of the mineral corundum should be referred to as sapphire, except the red color, which was called ruby. Other very popular shades of fancy sapphires are yellows, bright oranges, lavenders and purples, and a bluish green color.
The most valuable fancy sapphire is an orange-pink or pinkish-orange variety called 'padparadscha' after the lotus blossom. Padparadscha sapphires are very rare, and the exact definition has always been a matter of debate: different dealers and laboratories around the world disagree on the exact color denoted by this term. Some dealers even argue that the term should not be limited to the pastel shades of Sri Lankan sapphires, but also include the more fiery shades of reddish-orange from the Umba Valley in Tanzania. Padparadscha sapphires sell at a premium, their prices nearing those obtained for fine blue sapphires. Although the exact description of these rare gemstones is debatable, their beauty, with its delicate blended shades the color of fresh salmon and sunsets, is not.
Generally, the clearer and more vivid the color, the more valuable the fancy sapphire. If the color is in the pastel range, the clarity should be good. Because in lighter tones inclusions are more noticeable, the trade usually prefers the gemstones to be cleaner with fewer visible inclusions. In a lighter colored gemstone, the cut is also more important: it should reflect light back evenly across the face of the stone, making it lively and brilliant. With darker, more intense colors, the cut is not as critical because the color creates its own impact.
No matter what the color, sapphires combine durability and beauty for generations of pleasure.