pear-cut padparadscha sapphirepear-cut padparadscha sapphire

Padparadscha Sapphire Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

Padparadscha sapphires show a blend of orange and pink colors, one of the rarest of all sapphire color combinations. Padparadschas are some of the most desired and highly valued gemstones today.

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Padparadscha sapphires show a blend of orange and pink colors, one of the rarest of all sapphire color combinations. Padparadschas are some of the most desired and highly valued gemstones today.

pear-cut padparadscha sapphire
Brilliant pear-cut, orangish pink padparadscha sapphire, 1.40 cts, 7.1 x 6.2 mm, Embilipitiya, Sri Lanka. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

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Padparadscha Sapphire Value

Padparadscha sapphires often command the highest per-carat prices of any corundum, the gem species that includes ruby and all colors of sapphire.


The best padparadschas have evenly distributed color when viewed face up. Look for bright colors without noticeable pale or dark zones. Some padparadschas will have a more dominant orange color, while others will have a more dominant pink coloring. However, padparadschas must show both orange and pink hues. That combination may look different when viewed under different lighting conditions or angles. As a result, you may find some color zoning where areas show more of one hue than another. This color zoning can give the gems a dynamic and vibrant appearance.


Since padparadschas are so rare, clarity imperfections are usually tolerated, but large inclusions that detract from a gem’s beauty will lower its value. Dark inclusions may be especially noticeable in lighter stones.

Carat and Cut

Since larger padparadschas have higher per-carat values than smaller ones, faceters usually try to conserve as much carat weight as possible when cutting them. Thus, it’s common to find padparadscha sapphire gems fashioned into round, oval, and cushion shapes that aren’t quite symmetrical.

vintage padparadscha
Vintage (1950s) native cushion-cut padparadscha sapphire, 9.4 x 6.2 x 4.5 mm, 2.63 carats, Sri Lanka. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Padparadscha Sapphire Shopping Tip

Since color is the most important value factor for a padparadscha sapphire, never purchase one you haven’t examined in person or via high-resolution photos or videos under good lighting conditions. Trust your eyes to find a stone that speaks to you.

For information on padparadscha sapphire value factors, consult our buying guide.

This GIA-certified padparadscha sapphire has a beautiful, bright pinkish orange color with a medium saturation. All That Glitters notes that “unfortunately, the true beauty and color cannot be captured in a photo.” 1.61 cts, oval cut. Photo © All That Glitters. Used with permission.

What Color is Padparadscha Sapphire?

The gemological definition of "padparadscha" has changed over the years. The name comes from the Sinhalese word for "lotus colored." However, specifying exactly what that color encompasses has proven challenging. Today, the most widely accepted gemological definition for a padparadscha sapphire is a sapphire with a low to medium saturation, pinkish orange to orangey pink color, and a light to medium tone. Previous definitions have included yellow, brown, and red colors, as well as a broader range of tones and saturations.

This platinum ring features a 10.03-ct padparadscha sapphire surrounding by a double halo of moon-cut diamonds totaling two cts. The ring shank has brilliant-cut diamond accents totaling 1.97 cts. Photo courtesy of and New Orleans Auction Galleries.

The LMHC Definition of Padparadscha Sapphire

In a 1983 article, Robert Crowningshield presented the GIA's position on the meaning of padparadscha:

If the term is to have merit today, it will have to be limited to those colors historically attributed to padparadscha and found as typical colors in Sri Lanka. It is GIA's opinion that this color range should be limited to light to medium tones of pinkish orange to orange-pink hues. Lacking delicacy, the dark brownish orange or even medium brownish orange tones of corundum from East Africa would not qualify under this definition. Deep orangy red sapphires, likewise, would not qualify as fitting the term padparadscha. (35)

In 2007, Crowningshield's description of padparadscha sapphire served as the basis for the definition adopted by the Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee (LMHC), a group comprised of representatives from seven major gemological grading laboratories from around the world, including the US-based GIA and Thailand-based GIT. The LMHC definition is as follows:

Padparadscha sapphire is a variety of corundum from any geographical origin whose colour is a subtle mixture of pinkish orange to orangey pink with pastel tones and low to medium saturation when viewed in standard daylight. (2023)

The LMHC definition cleared the way for gemologists to use the term "padparadscha" as an official variety of corundum and not merely as a trade name.

Although presented as a padparadscha, this sapphire shows a highly saturated orange without pink color. Thus, this gem does not meet the LMHC standards for a padparadscha sapphire. Photo by Alextryan. Public Domain.

Differing Opinions on Padparadscha Sapphire Color

Despite the LMHC definition, padparadscha color isn't a settled matter for everyone. Gem dealer sensibilities differ in markets across the globe. For example, dealers in Sri Lanka may offer sapphires with yellow, reddish, or brown colors as padparadschas. Furthermore, some dealers, gemologists, and professional labs reject the LMHC restriction of padparadscha saturation to low and medium. In fact, some assert that padparadschas must be vividly saturated to earn the designation.

In Padparadscha Sapphire & the Ownership of Words, gemologist Richard W. Hughes presents the limitations of Crowningshield's and the LMHC's definitions of padparadscha sapphire. Hughes argues that Crowningshield's 1983 article neglected historical and modern Arab, Indian, and Sinhalese (Sri Lankan) references to padmaraga gemstones as a mix of yellow sapphire and red ruby, despite Crowningshield's assertion that a modern definition of padparadscha should "be limited to those colors historically attributed to padparadscha and found as typical colors in Sri Lanka." Furthermore, Hughes argues that the LMHC's insistence on pastel colors and a low to medium saturation for padparadschas doesn't reflect the broad opinions of experienced gem dealers, based on his own survey. Indeed, deep and vivid saturations are also possible. (2024)

Sold as pink orangish padparadschas, these sapphires have an intense, almost vivid saturation. The LMHC would disqualify them as padparadschas, but not all gemologists would concur. Photo courtesy of and Jasper52.

In a 2018 IGS member survey of top color choices for rubies and sapphires, most of our 281 respondents chose pastels and orange for padparadschas. However, some selected more saturated colors for these gems.

What Causes Color in Padparadscha Sapphire?

Without trace elements, all corundum (Al2O3) is colorless. The orange and pink colors of padparadscha come from iron and chromium impurities. Iron leads to a lighter yellow color, and chromium leads to red. The combination leads to the final expression of bright orange and pink.

padparadscha sapphires - Madagascar
Marquise-cut padparadscha sapphires, 10.84 ctw, Madagascar. Photo courtesy of and Kissing Auction.

A simple substitution incorporates the impurities that act as chromophores into the crystal lattice of the gemstone. Chromium ions (Cr3+) typically replace some aluminum ions (Al3+). Iron impurities are very common in corundum and may be present in concentrations ranging from less than a few ppma (parts per million atoms) up to almost 5,000 ppma. Like chromium, iron ions (Fe3+) can replace aluminum ions. (In higher concentrations, they can also exist in pairs and even clusters.)

Does Padparadscha Sapphire Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

In general, gem-quality corundum makes an excellent jewelry stone, especially for an engagement ring or other piece worn every day. With a hardness of 9, sapphire and ruby have a scratch resistance that's second only to diamond among natural stones. This means they'll maintain their polish for many years. Padparadscha sapphire color is also stable. Heat, light, and common household chemicals won't affect it.

Platinum Imperial Lotus Padparadscha Halo Right Hand Ring
An incredible 5.01-ct. padparadscha sapphire serves as the center stone for this platinum ring.
Find this Ring
at WhiteFlash

Matching Padparadscha Sapphires

Since padparadschas are so rare and valuable, many jewelry designers will only highlight one or very few gems in a particular piece. Finding jewelry featuring padparadschas with matching colors, sizes, and shapes is unusual.

necklace with padparadscha sapphires
The centerpiece of this white gold necklace features seven oval-cut padparadscha sapphires, 10.77 ctw, and full-cut diamond accents, 1.20 ctw. Each padparadscha has an individual lab report grading its color as pink-orange. However, the individual colors don't match perfectly. Some stones look more pink than orange and others more orange than pink. The individual carat weights also range from 1.24 cts to 1.95. Nevertheless, the gem arrangement appears harmonious. Photo courtesy of and Heritage Auctions.

The History of Padparadscha Sapphires

Sri Lanka has produced corundum gemstones of many hues for thousands of years. Ancient Indian texts refer to orangy and reddish/yellowish stones, colors that overlapped with what was then considered "ruby."

Sri Lanka has produced padparadscha sapphires, as gemologists now define them, for at least several hundred years. Royalty and nobility from India and Middle Eastern nations have long admired and worn these gems. Padparadschas have even found their way into local Sinhalese folklore and gained popular associations with power, wealth, and spiritual protection.

How to Identify Padparadscha Sapphires

Absorption Spectrum

In their 2008 article from Gems & Gemology, Dietmar Schwarz et al. found that the spectrum of Tanzanian padparadschas revealed the presence of chromium in absorption bands located between 405-410 nm as well as a band at 560 nm and a doublet at 694 nm. Additional bands at 377-388 nm and 450 nm are associated with iron. The lower wavelength peak is associated with isolated ions, whereas the 450 nm band reveals the presence of iron ion pairs. (339)


Natural padparadscha sapphires are generally inert under ultraviolet (UV) light. However, they may show an impressive orange-red fluorescent reaction to longwave UV light.


Padparadschas sapphire may have the same inclusions observed in corundum of any color. Unheated gemstones (or those only subjected to low-level heat treatment) often host unaltered mineral inclusions. You may also observe hexagonal growth banding and silk (needle inclusions intersecting at a 60° angle). Pay special attention to fingerprints, a classic corundum inclusion that resembles a human fingerprint suspended within the gem. Although usually a sign of a natural stone, some flux-grown corundum gems have fingerprint inclusions that strongly resemble the natural feature. However, fingerprints in these synthetics are just a little clumpier and less transparent.

Are There Color Change Padparadscha Sapphires?

In addition to hue, tone, and saturation parameters, the LMHC's definition specifies that padparadscha color must be stable in standard daylight. Furthermore, a gem can't be described as padparadscha "if the colour of the stone is not stable and shifting out of the padparadscha colour range (e.g., shifting to pink) by a colour stability test." (2023)

For example, Aaron Palke et al. studied pink sapphires that temporarily adopted an orangy pink to pinkish orange color when exposed to UV light, a phenomenal effect known as tenebrescence. At their most extreme point of change, the gems fell within the color range of padparadschas. However, the sapphires returned to pink after a few hours of exposure to intense incandescent light or a more prolonged exposure to sunlight. Since their color in daylight no longer fits the definition of padparadscha, these sapphires couldn't be classified as padparadschas. (2022)

Are There Synthetic Padparadscha Sapphires?

Since the flame fusion process is the fastest and most cost-effective way to synthesize corundum, many synthetic corundum gems, including padparadscha sapphires, are made via this method. To separate flame fusion from mined gemstones, look for curved striae and gas bubbles under magnification. Both features are diagnostic of synthetic origins. Additionally, flame fusion sapphires lack the 450 nm absorption band.

Padparadscha sapphires are also produced using the flux method. To separate these from mined gems, look for chunky, more opaque fingerprint inclusions than those found in naturals. Look for straight or angled growth zoning in flux-grown sapphires and small platelets of left-over metallic material used in the growing process. 

Do Padparadscha Sapphires Receive Enhancements?

Untreated padparadscha sapphires hold more value than treated gems. However, heat treatments can enhance the color of paler padparadschas. Rubies and sapphires frequently receive various enhancements. They are commonly heated because the results are stable and beautiful, and the crystal structure isn't harmed. Nevertheless, per the LMHC definition, sapphires may not receive any treatments beyond heat to qualify as padparadschas. This covers such treatments as coating, dyeing, fracture-filling, irradiation, and lattice diffusion. (2023)

Despite the LMHC's proscription, you can still find sapphires on the market with pinkish orange colors from these treatments. Even without the padparadscha designation from a gem lab, sapphires with padparadscha colors are attractive and salable.

Some sapphires receive pinkish orange colors from high-temperature lattice diffusion with beryllium. Beryllium can penetrate deeper into sapphires. When this treatment emerged in the early 2000s, the presence of beryllium wasn't detectable with conventional gemological equipment. However, scientists noticed inclusions in these treated gems were damaged by extreme heat, which wasn't of natural origin. New technologies and tools can now detect beryllium. However, be aware that sapphires from Afghanistan, Tasmania (Australia), and Madagascar can naturally contain some beryllium.

Irradiation can add a yellow/orange color component to pink sapphires, bringing them into the padparadscha color range.

Where are Padparadscha Sapphires Found?

Corundum occurs worldwide, but only a few locations yield padparadscha sapphires.

Until recently, the only known source for these sapphires was Sri Lanka. Over the centuries, Sri Lanka produced this rare gem in enough quantities for padparadschas to gain global recognition.

In recent decades, padparadscha sapphire was discovered in Tanzania and Madagascar. The Bermainty region of Madagascar began producing corundum with padparadscha color in the late 1990s. The Winza mining area in Tanzania began producing padparadschas in 2007. Vietnam has also reportedly produced a few padparadschas.

A single crystal of orange-pink sapphire from Tanzania. 2.6 x 0.7 x 0.6 cm. © Rob Lavinsky, Used with permission.

Do Padparadscha Sapphires Have to Come from Sri Lanka?

The LMHC definition of padparadscha sapphire applies to any corundum gem with the specified color "from any geographical origin." (2023) However, not all professionals agree. Some dealers and purists insist that only stones from Sri Lanka should have the padparadscha label.

Padparadscha Sapphire Sizes

Rough corundum crystals can weigh many hundreds of carats. However, the padparadscha sapphire variety usually weighs much less.

You can usually easily find finished padparadschas under two carats on the market. On the other hand, anything much larger than three carats is an extraordinary find.

large padparadscha - Sri Lanka
Padparadscha sapphire, Sri Lanka (29.25). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Famous Padparadscha Sapphires

Every padparadscha is a rarity, and those that stand out among this sapphire variety are rarer still. Nevertheless, a few padparadscha sapphire gems have become well-known among gem and jewelry aficionados.

The princesses of the United Kingdom own some of the world's most famous engagement rings. The most well-known of these is Princess Diana's, which features a blue sapphire set in a halo of diamonds, now worn by Princess Kate. In a nod to this iconic design, Princess Eugenie wears a similar halo ring with a bright padparadscha sapphire estimated to weigh between three to four carats. The value of this ring is approximated at around $100,000.

In 2005, Christie's sold a massive 20.84-ct padparadscha sapphire, set in a ring designed by Henry Dunay, for $374,400. Interestingly, Hughes analyzes the color of the Christie's Padparadscha and concludes that the gem has a darker tone and deeper saturation than the LHMC definition would allow. (2024)

Weighing 24.58 cts, the Du Pont Padparadscha is untreated and has a confirmed Sri Lankan origin. Set in a ring, this gem sold for $930,000 in 2020.

Padparadscha Sapphire Trade Names

The padparadscha label began as a trade name but has become an official name for a sapphire variety. Now, padparadschas themselves have amassed their own trade names. You may find these gems advertised as "Salmon," "Sunset," and "Sunrise Sapphires."

While some East African sapphires have colors that fall within the LMHC definition of padparadscha, others have slightly too much brown, red, or orange color. You might find these gems for sale as "African padparadschas." Unfortunately, this trade name can cause confusion. Although these sapphires don't meet the modern gemological definition of padparadschas, some African sapphires actually do qualify as padparadschas.

How to Care for Padparadscha Sapphire Jewelry

You can clean your padparadscha sapphire jewelry with any specialized jewelry cleaning solution, ultrasonic device, or steamer, as long as the stone is reasonably free of inclusions. To keep your jewelry looking its best daily, use a soft brush with soapy water or gemstone cleaning solution between mechanical cleanings. If you're unsure whether your padparadscha has inclusions, stick to cleaning with a soft brush and soapy water.

This three-stone engagement ring features two matched padparadscha sapphires.
Find this Ring
at WhiteFlash

Works Cited

Crowningshield, Robert. "Padparadscha: What's in a Name?" Gems & Gemology, Spring 1983. (Accessed 1/18/24)

Dietmar Schwarz, et al. "Rubies and Sapphires from Winza, Tanzania." Gems & Gemology, Winter 2008. (Accessed 1/18/24)

Hughes, Richard W. Padparadscha Sapphire & the Ownership of Words. (Accessed 1/18/24)

Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee. "LMHC Information Sheet # 4 Corundum," version 10, 2023. (Accessed 1/18/24)

Palke, Aaron C., et al. "An Update on Sapphires with Unstable Color." Gems & Gemology, 2002. (Accessed 1/18/24)

Emily Frontiere

Emily Frontiere is a GIA Graduate Gemologist. She is particularly experienced working with estate/antique jewelry.

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