Sapphire, a variety of the mineral corundum, is well known in the public eye as an enchanting blue gemstone and September’s birthstone. However, sapphires come in a variety of shades including yellow, orange, pink, purple and green while blue hues remain the most well known. Sapphires have a remarkable hardness and durability that is second only to diamonds and are used for a variety of other purposes aside from fine jewelry such as for watch crystals and high-durability windows.
Sapphire is any color of corundum except red. Red shades of corundum are alternately known as rubies. Pinkish-orange sapphires are known as padparadscha and along with rubies have their own name instead of being referred to as another hue or sapphire. Natural, untreated padparadscha are exceedingly rare and highly valued for their subtle blend of orange and pink hues. Star sapphires are another type of sapphire, exhibiting a star-like phenomenon referred to as asterism. That is, these captivating gems contain intersecting, needle-like inclusions that create the appearance of a size-rayed star shape. The value of a star sapphire depends in large part on the visibility and intensity of its asterism, not only on carat weight.
The price and value of natural sapphire gems varies depending on color, clarity, size, cut, overall quality and geographic origin. Fine sapphire gems hail from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, East Africa, Eastern Australia and parts of the United States. While sapphire and rubies are often discovered together in the same geographical are, one gem tends to be more abundant than the other.