Sapphire is the most precious and valuable blue gemstone. It is a very desirable gemstone due to its excellent color, hardness, durability, and luster. In the gem trade, Sapphire without any color prefix refers to the blue variety of the mineral Corundum. However, the term Sapphire encompasses all other gem varieties and colors of Corundum as well, excluding Ruby, the red variety of Corundum, which has its own name since antiquity.
Besides blue sapphire and ruby, the corundum family also includes so-called “fancy sapphires.” They come in violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and intermediate hues. Some stones exhibit the phenomenon known as color change, most often going from blue in daylight or fluorescent lighting to purple under incandescent light. Sapphires can even be gray, black, or brown.
Blue sapphires are evaluated based upon the purity of their blue hue. Violet, and green are the most common secondary hues found in blue sapphires. The highest prices are paid for gems that are pure blue and of vivid saturation. Gems that are of lower saturation, or are too dark or too light in tone are of less value. However, color preferences are a personal taste, like a flavor of ice cream.