Fancy Sapphire has been called 'gem of the heavens' or the 'celestial gem' because their colours can mirror the sky's many moods, Sapphire's kaleidoscopic spectrum of colours is truly mind-blowing.
The name ‘Sapphire’ originates from the Latin ‘sappheiros’, meaning blue. 'Fancy' is often defined as 'fantastical imagination', and with respect to these Sapphires, it is extremely apt; their colours truly are fantastic and uniquely beautiful, firing the imagination. September's birthstone offers a lot more than just blue.
Properties & Source of Fancy Sapphire
Sapphire and Ruby are colour varieties of the mineral Corundum (crystalline aluminium oxide). Corundum produces 'other coloured' gemstones, meaning that trace amounts of elements such as chromium, iron and titanium as well as colour centres are responsible for producing its rainbow of colours.
While both Ruby and Sapphires are classed as Type II gemstones, meaning they typically grow with some minor inclusions in nature that may be eye-visible, Sapphires are usually cleaner (and larger) than Ruby, with an eye-clean clarity (no visible inclusions when the gem is examined six inches from the naked eye) being the typical standard. As for the colour, an attractive brilliance should sparkle (scintillate) throughout the gem, but this will be affected by colour distribution, colour saturation, faceting quality and transparency.
Fancy Sapphires are available in a huge array of shapes and cuts, although the alluvial nature of rough Sapphire is well suited to oval and pears, rounds are sometimes a little more expensive. Typical Fancy Sapphire origins include Australia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand.
Varieties of Fancy Sapphire
Black Star Sapphire
One of the best things about Black Star Sapphire is the marked contrast of a sharp white or golden star against the intensity of a black body colour. Due to an optical effect called 'asterism' or the 'star effect', parallel needle-like inclusions within the gemstone create a reflected luminous star of light that moves and dances across the gemstone. All star gems are dependent on the gem being cut 'en cabochon' (cut in convex form and highly polished, but not faceted). The world's only Black Star Sapphire deposit is the Ban Kha Ja district of Chanthaburi, Thailand. Its sole deposit is depleting making this gem is a real geological rarity that will most likely become unavailable in the future.
Once called 'Oriental Emerald', Green Sapphire colours include bluish-green, green, green-blue and yellowish-green. Some Green Sapphires are actually comprised of microscopic blue and yellow bands that combine to produce a visually green gem to the naked eye. Coloured by trace amounts of iron, Green Sapphires hail from Australia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Fine Green Sapphires over 10 carats are relatively scarce and hard to source, making them ideal for the serious collector.
Orange Sapphire can be found in a variety of orange hues ranging from orange to reddish-orange and yellowish-orange. The most valuable Orange Sapphire's come in rich oranges and an absence of blackish tints. Madagascar and Sri Lanka are Orange Sapphire's main sources.
Padparadscha Colour Sapphire
Padparadscha, a name derived from a pinkish-orange lotus flower (Nelumbo Nucifera Speciosa), is one of Sapphire's rarest and most coveted colours. Popular for its pastel pink-orange tones, Padparadscha Sapphires are found in Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Vietnam.
With colours ranging from pastel pinks to intense hues of ‘fuschia’, ‘magenta’ and ‘hot’ pink, Pink Sapphire is differentiated from Ruby by tone and saturation. Although this line is hard to draw pink shades are now either Pink Ruby or Pink Sapphire.
Purple Sapphires come in various shades of blue-purple, purple, purple-red and red-purple.
Named as a tribute to the unique beauty of the African sunset, Sunset Sapphire, hails exclusively from a deposit just outside the town of Songea in Tanzania that was only discovered in 1992.
Sometimes viewed as Diamond alternatives, White Sapphire is has a rich history. Found on the island of Naxos in the Aegean Sea, the ancient Greeks associated them with Apollo, the god of light and the sun; truth and prophecy; archery; medicine and healing; and music, poetry and the arts.
Arguably the most prized of all yellow gemstones, Yellow Sapphire's colour ranges from lemon pastels to intense yellowish-oranges (canaries). Similar to Green Sapphire, Yellow Sapphires are also coloured by trace amounts of iron. Known as 'Oriental Topaz' until the late 19th-century, Yellow Sapphires main sources are Australia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Despite all colourful varieties that can be found, the blue sapphire is still the most well known variety of this gemstone.
Read more about Blue Sapphire