Sapphire Gemstone & Jewelry Buying Guide

Birthstone for September, sapphire comes from the Greek word Sappheiros. It is one of the three primary precious colored gemstones used in fine jewelry besides ruby and emerald and comes in variety of colors, with rich vivid ones as the best in their color.

Brief History

In ancient periods, there was a strong belief in the royalty that blue sapphires protected them from jealousy and mischief. Clergy wore them to represent heaven and general public to attract blessings from heaven. Signifying virtue and fidelity, Prince Charles of Great Britain gave a sapphire engagement ring to his fiancée Diana Spencer.

Technical Specs

Sapphire’s mineral species is Corundum, its chemical formula is Al2O3, Refractive Index ranges 1.762 – 1.770, Birefringence ranges 0.008 – 0.010, Specific Gravity is 4.00 and its MOHS hardness is 9.

Sapphires come from a variety of exotic and different regions around the world, like Australia, Africa and Southeast Asia..


Fancy color sapphires are: padparadscha, pink, purple, orange, yellow, green, colorless and black. Padparadscha is the most valuable of all with a color similar to a ripe guava.

Photographed for the CIBJO project from the Dr. Eduard J. Gubelin Collection.

The most valuable blue sapphires have a rich velvety blue color. Just as with all precious colored gemstones, color has the biggest influence on value of a sapphire.

3.08 ct. blue Kashmir sapphire. Unheated, cushion, antique mixed cut.


Sapphire inclusions are in forms of needles, crystals, partially restored breaks, zoning or banding in color. Fine color sapphires with high clarity are very rare and valuable, especially in larger sizes.


Sapphire’s cut is very important in its brilliancy, so cutters focus on color zoning, pleochroism and areas with highest color intensity to achieve the best results.

Carat Weight: Sapphires range from a few points to hundreds of carats in weight. As the size  increases, so does the price per carat, especially in finer quality sapphires.   

Shapes: Sapphires come in all shapes with oval, pear shaped, cushion and emerald cut as the most popular in larger sizes. Smaller size sapphires in baguette, round, square, princess cut and marquise shapes are commonly used as side stones or accents in diamond ring settings and jewelry.       

Sapphire Jewelry

Sapphire rings come in variety of styles and designs so it is impossible to categorize all. Below are the better known styles by category.

Halo: The center sapphire sits in a halo of pave set round diamonds.

Classic: The sapphire, usually in oval shape is surrounded by single row of diamonds in traditional prong setting.

Vintage: Old cut sapphire (like emerald or cushion cut) is combined with fancy shape diamonds like triangle, trapezoid or moon cuts and small pave set round  diamonds. Bezel, one of the oldest stone setting types is commonly seen in vintage sapphire rings.

Three-Stone: Larger sapphire with a single diamond on each side. Generally all three stones have the same shape, but oval sapphire with triangle side diamonds and emerald cut sapphire with trapezoid cut side diamonds are also popular sapphire 3-stone ring styles.

Band: Sapphires and diamonds set in a band style ring, usually purchased as a sapphire wedding band or anniversary ring.

Sapphire earrings are the most popular of all colored gemstone earrings. The cool vibrant blue sapphires go nicely with almost any outfit in a woman’s wardrobe and their availability in variety of shapes and sizes makes them easy to incorporate into variety of designs. Below are the primary sapphire earring styles.  

Studs: Sapphires, generally in round, oval or pear shaped are surrounded by round diamonds, sitting over the earlobes.

Drops / Dangling: Sapphires and diamonds dangle from or sit right below the earlobes.

Vintage: Sapphires are set in antique design earrings.

Sapphire necklaces and pendants come in small and affordable, up to extravagant and expensive versions. sapphire tennis necklace wraps around the neck in a choker style. Pendants  generally accented by diamonds, hang from a thin gold chain and vintage ones resemble antique patterns. 

Blue sapphire bracelets are the most popular of all gemstone bracelets selected by men for gifting women. Below are the primary style categories.

  • Antique Design: Sapphires combined with diamonds are set in an art-deco or vintage styles.
  • Tennis: Sapphires are set in a straight line flexible bracelet, going all around the woman’s wrist.    
  • Bangle: Generally round and/or square sapphires, set in a stiff bangle style bracelet.

How to Select & Buy

When shopping, use below information and guidelines to select and buy the best sapphire for your money.

  • Focus on color as it is the most important factor. Easiest technique is to compare two or more sapphires in color, shape, size and price range you are interested in.
  • Make sure sapphire you select has no inclusions visible to the naked eyes nor any inclusion that breaks through its surface, appearing as a tiny crack.
  • Sapphire’s proportions, cut and symmetry are good. Remember cutting standards for precious colored gemstones is different from diamonds because primary goal of gemstone cutters is to, preserve and achieve the best color in the stone.
  • Shop with reputable, expert merchants. Jewelers and jewelry stores who offer good value as well as expert technical knowledge, plus outstanding service after every sale.