What is Teal Color?
In 1930, Aloys John Maerz and Morris Rea Paul published the Dictionary of Color, which included a color plate from a teal sample dated 1917. As a result, teal became widely known as a distinctive color. Prior to that, the term “teal” referred to the common teal or Eurasian duck, which has a characteristic bluish green stripe around its eyes. When sapphires with typically dark cyan-like hues were discovered, the name “teal sapphires” was an obvious choice.
Teal Through the Ages
Although the color teal gained significance in the Western world relatively late, many other cultures have appreciated the beauty of this hue for ages. For example, in Tibetan Buddhist culture, teal signifies the infinity of the sea and sky. Since time immemorial, it has symbolized truth and faith for the Egyptians.
In the United States, the popularity of the color teal exploded in the 1990s, especially in the sports world. Many professional teams opted for this color in combination with other electric colors, like purple. This gave rise to the “jazz” pattern so widespread during the decade. In fact, a whooping 13 teams in the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL opted for teal.
With advances in digital movie technology in the 2000s, movie editors found a brilliant way to juxtapose the cool teal color against the warmer hues of the actors’ skin tones. They created a distinct orange-and-teal or amber-and-teal color palette.
Polls show that blue and green are Americans’ favorite colors. It just so happens that beautiful marine teal hits the sweet spot between both. Perhaps this helped make teal such a popular color for logos, web designs, and interior decors.
Popularly, teal is defined as a marine mix of blue and green. However, this description is extremely subjective, leaving teal easily confused with cyan, aqua, etc.
One of the easiest ways to visualize teal is typing in its HEX code, #008080, into any color palette system. For example:
The color generated in the RGB color space will be:
The combination of colors in teal will differ, depending on the media the users intend it for. In a RGB color space, used primarily for screen applications, hex #008080 is made of 0% red, 50.2% green and 50.2% blue.
In a CMYK color space, used for print media, hex #008080 is comprised of 100% cyan, 0% magenta, 0% yellow, and 50% black. Teal has a hue angle of 180°, a saturation of 100%, and a lightness of 25.1%.
Fortunately, gemology isn’t bound by such rigid boundaries of numbers and figures when it comes to color.
Breaking Down the Color of Teal Sapphires
Teal sapphires show a gradient of shades, varying degrees of blue, green, yellow, and space grey. Many people mistakenly call these gems “parti-sapphires.” Keep in mind that “parti” stands for partition, which means colors separated into distinct color zoning bands. This doesn’t occur in teal sapphires.
The most precious teal sapphires have an equal or near equal composition of blue and green primary colors with hints of yellow, which depend on the reflection of light within the gem as well as the cut. The rarest and most valuable grade of teal sapphire has a 50-50 blue and green composition. This creates a sublime, mossy, aqua-like color.
The following table breaks down teal sapphire’s various color compositions.
Teal sapphire color compositions. © Navneet Gems & Minerals. Used with permission.
Do Teal Sapphires Show Color Change?
Strictly speaking gemologically, teal sapphires don’t exhibit color change under different sources of light. They don’t completely change from one hue to another. However, their reflection patterns in natural and artificial lights produce a partial, subtle change. The yellow of natural light makes the green in the stone more noticeable.
What’s the Best Cut for Teal Sapphires?
The gem’s cut determines how much blue and green a teal sapphire will show, so it’s extremely important. Faceters can cut teal sapphires into a number of shapes, but we recommend brilliant cuts, whether round or oval. They allow the best possible movement of light within the stone to display both hues equally and brightly. A poor cut will darken the stone’s tone and thus lose its lighter hues.
A recent surge in the global demand for fancy-cut and uniquely shaped sapphires has inspired faceters to experiment with different cuts and shapes for teal sapphires. While these novel forms are popular with many gem connoisseurs, the classic oval is still the best shape for getting the most finished yield from a rough sapphire.
Teal Sapphire Sources
The principal source of teal sapphires isn’t one of the traditional producers of sapphires like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, or Thailand. It’s Australia.
Australian teal sapphires. © Navneet Gems & Minerals. Used with permission.
Although teal sapphire purists consider only Australian teal sapphires genuine, many sources have now been discovered. These include sites in the far north of Madagascar, Ethiopia, and Mambilla in Nigeria. In the United States, Montana has become an important source.
While these recent finds have yet to gather their own faithful devotees, the stones they produce can be just as beautiful as Australian teal sapphires and have exceptional quality, too.
Interestingly, teal sapphires occur in regions recognized as basalt-related sources, such as Australia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and northern Madagascar. To understand why, we must understand the basic origins of sapphires.
Most sapphires from basaltic deposits have blue, green, and yellow colors. These are the hues responsible for teal. For gemologists, it begs the question: are teal sapphires primarily of basaltic origins?
Are Teal Sapphires the Next Padparadscha Sapphires?
Let’s compare the well-known padparadscha sapphire to teal sapphire.
For many enthusiasts, the ideal padparadscha color is a marriage between a lotus flower and a sunset. This means a distinctive pink-orange hue. The perfect 50-50 pink-orange padparadscha can cost up to 50,000 USD.
Some speculate that teal sapphires have the potential to scale up in a similar manner. Thus, they may make an excellent investment opportunity for jewelers and wholesalers. Let’s look at the reasons why.
No two teal sapphires are alike. Like padparadschas, each teal sapphire seems to have a unique personality reflected in its color variations. Their ability to surprise us with their unique hues and tones makes them very special.
A padparadscha’s pink is like a teal’s blue, and its orange is like a teal’s green. Just like the perfect padparadscha’s color is composed of equal parts pink and orange, the perfect teal sapphire’s color is also a 50-50 blue and green.
Currently, there’s an immense cost difference between teal sapphires and padparadscha sapphires on the market.
When dealing with sapphires with single colors, blues are always more expensive than pinks. Greens are more expensive than oranges. (We’ll explore prices later in this article). So, one might assume that a sapphire with a color that combines blue and green elements would be more expensive than a padparadscha. However, this isn’t the case, primarily because teal sapphires are relatively unknown to consumers. These gems have yet to gain the popularity that comes from decades of marketing.
Therefore, for jewelers and wholesalers, this is the perfect time to invest in quality wholesale teal blue-green sapphires.
Other Similar Gemstones
Some gem enthusiasts will compare teal sapphire with the similarly colored paraíba tourmaline as well as lagoon tourmaline from Afghanistan. Paraíba tourmalines also have a characteristic blue-green color that has been referred to as “neon blue.” However, upon inspection, even though their color is more open, it’s evident that paraíbas are less saturated than teal sapphires. This means they have a light intensity, not the dark, creamy intensity of teal sapphires.
Teal Sapphires for 21st Century Engagement Rings
Today, when young people explore engagement rings ideas, they’re going beyond mainstream stones, like diamonds. They want something refreshing, with unique colors, to tell their special story.
Traditionally, cornflower blue was the most popular sapphire color, courtesy of Princess Diana’s legendary engagement ring. Then, padparadscha’s colors became popular. However, in a 2020 market study conducted by Navneet Gems and Minerals, 90% of women surveyed under 35 want their engagement ring to be unique. Among them, 35% of those who want a sapphire as their center stone want a unique color, and they see teal sapphires as a great possibility.
Like all sapphires, teal sapphires are extremely durable. Measuring a 9 on the Mohs scale, sapphires are second only to diamonds in terms of hardness among natural gems. Since this means they have a strong resistance to scratches, they make perfect stones for daily wear. Resisting scratches also means they can stay brilliant for a long time, avoiding the scuffs that will diminish their brightness. This makes them an excellent choice for an engagement ring to wear as a symbol of love and commitment.
Today, most jewelry shoppers want a semblance of distinction without spending extravagantly. An engagement ring doesn’t necessarily have to be a status symbol. The dictum “the bigger, the better” (or rather, “the costlier, the better”) generally doesn’t hold sway anymore. Teal sapphires, with their mesmerizing bluish green color, come at a fraction of the cost of cornflower blue, pink, and padparadscha sapphires.
With growing concerns over gemstone sourcing, jewelers and dealers should know the sources of their gemstones, including the mines for the raw stones, the labor involved in mining and cutting, and the supply chain. Traceable from the very first step, teal sapphires are the hallmark of responsible sourcing. Most come from Australia, where mechanical mines are primarily used. Thus, there’s extensive documentation at every step to ensure quality.
When it comes to questions of ethical sourcing, there’s no excuse for a lack of documentation. The systematic approach towards sapphire mining, like that of large scale mining operations in Australia, mean fewer chances for the development of a “blood diamonds” situation.
Teal sapphires combine the calming depth of blue with the renewing energy of green. These beautiful gems can also symbolize open channels of communication and clarity of thought. All these associations can make these gems a wonderful representation of a bridge between two souls.
Teal sapphires offer something new in the world of gemstones, not just to jewelers and gem traders but to customers as well. They’re wonderful substitutes for conventional gems like diamonds and cornflower blue sapphires. They also have a magnetic appeal that makes them perfect for statement jewelry, like engagement rings.