The corundum family of gemstones rarely fails to impress. Parti sapphires, also known as polychrome sapphires, show more than one color in a single stone. The most common bi-color combination is yellow and green. Rarer stones that show blue, purple, or lavender colors, or tri-color combinations, are especially prized. Recent gemstone trends could make engagement rings featuring this intriguing variety of sapphire the number one score this wedding season!
fancy pear-cur parti sapphire

This stunning, yellow-blue parti sapphire has a fancy cut that places its partition across its center. © Navneet Gems & Minerals. Used with permission.

Gemstone Color Trends for 2021

Only a decade ago, traditional favorites, such as diamonds, emeralds, and rubies, faced little competition as center stones in jewelry. Since then, there has been a drastic change. Now, consumers have an interest in gemstone rarity and uniqueness as well as ethical sourcing. In today’s market, color also plays an important role in a gem’s popularity. As a result, rarer colored gemstones have become an integral part of jewelry design. More often than not, you’ll find them featured as center stones.

Color preferences are highly subject to current trends. Let’s take a look at how current color trends may affect the demand for parti sapphires.

“A Bright and Cheerful Yellow”

The Pantone Color Institute has declared the pairing of Illuminating 13-0647 and Ultimate Gray 17-5104 the 2021 color of the year. This color combination expresses “a message of happiness supported by fortitude.” While gray symbolizes strength, resiliency, and dependability, Illuminating is a “bright and cheerful yellow” that signifies the hope and optimism we should carry into the upcoming year.

Pantone Colors of the Year 2021

Pantone Colors of the Year 2021. Image by Freepik.

Yellow appears frequently in typical bi or tri-colored parti sapphires. In fact, yellow is so characteristic of Australian parti sapphires that any bi-colored sapphire mined in Australia with a predominantly yellow color is considered parti. These gems have a distinct electric yellow presentation. (In contrast, the Montana parti sapphire has a more open and brilliant yellow hue).

Regardless of origins or the exact shade, parti sapphires with yellow zones will be extremely important in today’s market. Pantone is the world’s leading institute for color science. Their declaration will surely spike interest in yellow. Furthermore, many cultures traditionally believe a yellow sapphire brings wisdom, strength, and balance to the wearer.

Multi-Colored Gemstones

At the 2020 American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) GemFair, bi and tri-colored gems emerged as trendsetters for the global color palette. Rare blue-green parti sapphires from Montana and Australia will be highly prized in the coming years. These stones will need custom cuts to accentuate their color zoning. This aligns perfectly with the current consumer demand for unique-looking gemstones.

Without a doubt, 2021 is going to be the year of parti sapphires.

Sources and Varieties of Parti Sapphires

Australia, Kenya, and the U.S. state of Montana are the primary sources of parti sapphires. However, sapphire mines all over the world produce small amounts of these gems.

parti sapphires - sources

The Montana parti sapphire was the first to be isolated and classified differently from teal sapphire, which can show blends of green, blue, yellow, and gray rather than zones. Montana parti sapphires are known for their dramatic colors. 

Due to predominantly mechanized mining operations, Australia is the most abundant source of parti sapphires on the market today.

Although the gemstone and jewelry community has taken great strides in sourcing materials more ethically, you should still insist on purchasing parti sapphires only with documentation.

Gemologists can identify the likely source of a parti sapphire based on its coloration. All sapphires are allochromatic. This means they get their color from impurities in their chemical composition. The presence of trace elements such as titanium, vanadium, iron, and chromium can impart specific shades of color to parti sapphires. Since every region has a specific chemical makeup, colors may help indicate a stone’s source.

parti sapphire - trace elements

Are Parti Sapphires Considered Teal Sapphires?

Parti and teal sapphires occur in some of the same sources, notably Australia and Montana. They can both show green, yellow, and blue colors, too. As a result, people sometimes confuse them. In particular, mermaid sapphires, teal sapphires with a 50-50 ratio of blue and green colors, are frequently confused with a range of bi-colored gemstones.

Of course, partis and teals are both varieties of sapphires. However, the colors of a teal sapphire blend together. In contrast, the colors of a parti sapphire don’t merge. They stay separated by a distinct partition, hence the name “parti.” This is known as color zoning. In parti sapphires, the individuality of their colors are maintained without getting lost in each other.

Photos © Navneet Gems & Minerals. Used with permission.

Are Parti-Sapphires Color Change Sapphires?

Some sapphires with vanadium impurities can change color under different lighting conditions. Although some parti-colored sapphires may show some variation in color in each zone under different lighting, their general look will remain the same.

Also, keep in mind that color zoning isn’t the same as pleochroism, another optical effect that sapphires can also display. Some sapphires may show different colors depending on the viewing angle. However, a parti sapphire’s color zones are all visible at the same time, regardless of the viewing angle.

Do Parti-Sapphires Make Good Ring Stones?

All sapphires have physical properties that give them excellent wearability. Corundum gems — both sapphires and rubies — have the second highest Mohs hardness score (9) among natural gemstones. Only diamonds (10) have greater hardness. This means sapphires are very resistant to scratching, which is a common hazard for any ring stone.

Sapphires also have no cleavage, internal planes along which a gemstone can split. Practically speaking, this means sapphires have greater resistance to chipping or shattering than diamonds, which do have cleavage planes.

Unlike other varieties of sapphires, partis are completely untreated and can’t be created in laboratories. You can be sure your parti sapphire is a natural stone. Some other sapphire varieties may receive coatings to enhance their colors, but these may chip and fade over time. The colors of a parti sapphire will never fade.

What are the Best Colors for Parti Sapphires?

Color plays the most important role in the value of any sapphire. Parti sapphires are no exception. 

The most popular parti-color combination features yellow and green hues, but rare gems featuring blue or purple zones are highly prized.

yellow and blue bi-colored sapphire

A rare yellow and blue parti sapphire. © Navneet Gems & Minerals. Used with permission.

Look for a parti sapphire with a medium tone. A darker tone may make the distinct partition between the color zones imperceptible, while a lighter tone will wash out the colors. A parti sapphire with a vivid, intense saturation will command a higher price.

Photos © Navneet Gems & Minerals. Used with permission.

What’s the Best Cut for Parti Sapphires?

While a parti sapphire’s colors fall under Nature’s domain, the gemstone’s cut is an important value factor under the faceter’s control. 

The cut will determine the positioning of the partition between color zones. This will affect the ultimate aesthetic value of the stone. For a more dramatic effect, faceters try to place the partition at the center of the stone (of course, while trying to preserve carat weight). As a result, consumers will find parti sapphires available in a great variety of unique fancy cuts. No two part-colored sapphires will look quite the same.

fancy cuts

Unusual gemstone designs that highlight colors and partitions add to the allure of the parti sapphire. © Navneet Gems & Minerals. Used with permission.

Tips for Buying a Parti Sapphire

  1. Pick a gemstone with the partition placed clearly in the center.
  2. A gemstone with a blue, violet, or lavender zone will hold more value than one with the more common yellow and green zones.
  3. Tri-color parti sapphires are very rare and, thus, priced marginally higher than bi-colors.
  4. Don’t shy away from picking a parti sapphire with an unusual fancy cut. It might be a truly unique stone!

Consult this buying guide for more information.

Conclusion

Parti sapphires will receive a lot of exposure in 2021. These gems will make stunning center stones for any jewelry design. They’re perfect for anyone looking for a unique yet modestly priced sapphire engagement ring.