sapphire buying - bluish violet, Burmese
sapphire buying - bluish violet, Burmese

Sapphire Buying Guide


Long associated with royalty, sapphires are some of the most popular (and expensive) gems in the world. Our sapphire buying guide will help you evaluate their quality and pick the best gem for your jewelry.

16 Minute Read

Sapphire's high hardness means it's very resistant to scratching. Thus, it makes an excellent jewelry stone for any occasion. These gems also show pleochroism, two different colors when viewed from different angles. In rare cases, mineral crystal inclusions can create star sapphires, specimens that display a "star stone" effect known as asterism. Some rare gems can also change color, depending on the light source. 

However, since gem-quality natural sapphires are rare and the demand so great, you'll commonly find synthetics and imitations on the market. They also frequently receive treatments and enhancements for the same reasons.

What is a Sapphire?

Gem-quality corundum falls into two categories: ruby or sapphire. All red corundum gems (however defined) are considered rubies. All other colors are considered sapphires. Thus, sapphires occur in every color except red.

Commercially, blue sapphires are commonly referred to as simply sapphires. This reflects not only the persistent cultural association of sapphire with the color blue but also the consumer demand for blue sapphires. You may find sapphires of other colors referred to as "fancy sapphires." Nevertheless, all sapphires are non-red corundum gemstones. When discussing optical and physical properties, "sapphire" refers to all sapphires regardless of color....


International Gem Society


Phoebe Shang, GG

A gem lover and writer, Phoebe holds a graduate gemologist degree from the Gemological Institute of America and masters in writing from Columbia University. She got her start in gemology translating and editing Colored Stone and Mineral Highlights for a professor based in Shanghai. Whether in LA, Taipei, or New York, Phoebe spends her time searching for gems to design and being lost in good books.

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