Padparadscha sapphires are one of my favorite gems. I love the padparadscha sapphires for several reasons. One is that the color reminds me of one of the sweetest times of the day, sunrise and sunset when the light caresses the Earth in a warm, soft way that make things look wonderful. The padparadscha color is a sunset orangish-pink or pinkish-orange. Many people think of their favorite sunset, and another thing it might remind you of is the color of a hot ember pulled from a fire, which is a primal beauty humans have been fascinated with for many millennia. The name padparadscha actually comes from the Sinhalese word for lotus blossom, which sometimes occurs in a velvety pinkish orange color. Second, sapphire happens to be the second most durable gemstone found on Earth next to diamond and is therefore perfect as an engagement ring centerstone or accent. Padparadscha sapphires are far rarer than a standard diamond, so to me, there is almost nothing more romantic than a padparadscha sapphire engagement ring! Padparadscha sapphires are usually found in regular sapphire mines, but are the rarest and most valued color.
What Is A Padparadscha Sapphire
The Padparadscha Sapphire is a unique salmon colored sapphire that consists of coloration between pink and orange. Named after the Sanskrit word for the aquatic lotus blossom, the Padparadscha Sapphire was originally found in Sri Lanka but has more recently been discovered in Madagascar, Vietnam, and Tanzania. Often irregular in shape when cut, the rarity of this gem dictates that it is cut to retain as much of the stone as possible. For most sapphires, the more saturated color tones are prized. In the case of the Padparadscha Sapphire, the expected color is pastel so a medium saturation is of higher value.
Purists believe that true Padparadscha Sapphires only come from Sri Lanka, and for centuries this was the case. Although slightly different in color, the stones from Madagascar now make up a higher percentage of stones in the market and are pinker in color than orange. Tanzanian stones are orange in color with brown tones and are the least desirable of the sapphires classed as Padparadscha. It is important to note that not all Padparadscha Sapphires are uniform in their salmon color. They may display regions of pink and yellow hues throughout the gem.
Inclusions and defects are very easy to spot with the Padparadscha Sapphire. The light tones of the stone allow the easy passage of light through the matrix. As these sapphires are incredibly rare, high clarity is often sacrificed and brilliant color prized. Stones from Madagascar, Vietnam, and Tanzania are often heat treated with very low heat to help improve the color. In the past, a beryllium infusion treatment was used to create pinkish-orange “padparadscha” stones from inferior pink sapphires. This treatment occurs at a very high temperature and although difficult to determine whether this procedure has been applied, a test is available to determine whether this process has been applied.
How Are Padparadscha Sapphires Formed?
A corundum mineral, Padparadscha Sapphires formed 150-200 million years ago. Typically blue in color, sapphire is formed when aluminum oxide crystallizes. The availability of chromium or iron in the environment in which it was formed creates the beautiful, orange-pink hues that make the Padparadscha Sapphire the rarest sapphire and therefore highly sought after.
A simple corundum, the aluminum oxide crystallizes when the aluminum forms ionic bonds with available oxygen. Ionic bonds are moderately strong and give the sapphire a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale. The third hardest gemstone, the sapphire is also extremely stable in nature and resists damage by acidic environments and high temperature. This stability and resistance to damage by environmental factors give you a precious stone that will look its best long into the future.
Padparadscha Sapphires are found in metamorphic rocks and igneous rocks in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and eastern Africa. At a depth of 8-16 miles into the earth’s crust, intense pressure and temperatures above 800 degrees created a metamorphosis of sedimentary rocks, resulting in the formation of the corundum stones. Movement of the tectonic plates and the formation of mountain ranges and valleys forced the deposits towards the surface where it is has been revealed over time due to the wearing away of the metamorphic and igneous rocks by rivers and streams.
Stones from Sri Lanka are deemed to be the most valuable with Madagascar’s pinker stones close behind. Heating to improve the color and transparency is acceptable if only low heat is applied, however, an unheated stone has the highest value. Stones treated with a beryllium diffusion process are poor quality stones that have been treated to look like a padparadscha, it is prudent to avoid these stones. A quality, natural Padparadscha Sapphire offers timeless beauty for the discerning buyer.