Sapphires – The Birthstone of September – Part 3


Faceted Padparadscha

Padparadscha is a delicate, light to medium toned, pink-orange to orange-pink hued corundum, originally found in Sri Lanka, but also found in deposits in Vietnam and parts of East Africa. Padparadscha sapphires are rare; the rarest of all is the totally natural variety, with no sign of artificial treatment.

The name is derived from the Sanskrit “padma ranga” (padma = lotus; ranga = color), a color akin to the lotus flower (Nelumbo nucifera).

Natural padparadscha sapphires often draw higher prices than many of even the finest blue sapphires. Recently, more sapphires of this color have appeared on the market as a result of a new artificial treatment method called “lattice diffusion”.

Star Sapphire

Star Sapphire

star sapphire is a type of sapphire that exhibits a star-like phenomenon known as asterism; red stones are known as “star rubies”. Star sapphires contain intersecting needle-like inclusions following the underlying crystal structure that causes the appearance of a six-rayed “star”-shaped pattern when viewed with a single overhead light source. The inclusion is often the mineral rutile, a mineral composed primarily of titanium dioxide. The stones are cut en cabochon, typically with the center of the star near the top of the dome. Occasionally, twelve-rayed stars are found, typically because two different sets of inclusions are found within the same stone, such as a combination of fine needles of rutile with small platelets of hematite; the first results in a whitish star and the second results in a golden-colored star. During crystallization, the two types of inclusions become preferentially oriented in different directions within the crystal, thereby forming two six-rayed stars that are superimposed upon each other to form a twelve-rayed star. Misshapen stars or 12-rayed stars may also form as a result of twinning. The inclusions can alternatively produce a “cat’s eye” effect if the ‘face-up’ direction of the cabochon’s dome is oriented perpendicular to the crystal’s c-axis rather than parallel to it. If the dome is oriented in between these two directions, an ‘off-center’ star will be visible, offset away from the high point of the dome.

The Star of Adam is the largest blue star sapphire which weighs 1404.49 carats. The gem was mined in the city of Ratnapura, southern Sri Lanka. The Black Star of Queensland, the second largest gem-quality star sapphire in the world, weighs 733 carats. The Star of India mined in Sri Lanka and weighing 563.4 carats is thought to be the third-largest star sapphire, and is currently on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The 182-carat Star of Bombay, mined in Sri Lanka and located in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., is another example of a large blue star sapphire. The value of a star sapphire depends not only on the weight of the stone, but also the body color, visibility, and intensity of the asterism.

Color change Sapphire

A rare variety of natural sapphire, known as color-change sapphire, exhibits different colors in different light. Color change sapphires are blue in outdoor light and purple under incandescent indoor light, or green to gray-green in daylight and pink to reddish-violet in incandescent light. Color change sapphires come from a variety of locations, including Thailand and Tanzania. The color-change effect is caused by the interaction of the sapphire, which absorbs specific wavelengths of light, and the light-source, whose spectral output varies depending upon the illuminant. Transition-metal impurities in the sapphire, such as chromium and vanadium, are responsible for the color change.

Certain synthetic color-change sapphires have a similar color change to the natural gemstone alexandrite and they are sometimes marketed as “alexandrium” or “synthetic alexandrite”. However, the latter term is a misnomer: synthetic color-change sapphires are, technically, not synthetic alexandrites but rather alexandrite simulants. This is because genuine alexandrite is a variety of chrysoberyl: not sapphire, but an entirely different mineral.

(Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Stay tuned for Part 4 about Sapphires, the Birthstone of September.