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Why Padparadscha Is The Fanciest of the Fancy Sapphires

Originally posted on September 14th, 2017

Updated April 10th, 2020

In the corundum family, there is one fancy sapphire I didn’t mention last week because this gem needed an article of its own. This fancy sapphire is called padparadscha—the rarest and most valuable fancy sapphire.



Padparadscha (like the gems in our 14K Rose Oval Halo-Style Engagement Ring Mounting above) is a variety of fancy sapphire in the pinkish-orange to an orange-pink color range, which is quite rare. The colors are often compared to food and nature, like salmon and sunsets for example. The reputable color is caused by traces of iron, chromium, or color centers (imperfections in the structure and composition of the crystal).


https://www.gia.edu/sapphire-description
Rare 1,126.00-ct. padparadscha corundum crystal - © GIA & Tino Hammid

 

Of all the fancies in the corundum family, Padparadscha is one of the world’s most expensive, with the highest value per carat. More so than the most beautiful rubies or emeralds. Gasp! It can even be more valuable than the most beautiful blue sapphires. Shocking, I know!

In the Sri Lankan language, Sinhalese, Padparadscha means lotus flower for the beautiful pink and orange color combination, which is reminiscent of an actual lotus flower. The color is also traditionally linked to Sri Lanka. The name padparadscha is usually only meant for stones only from Sri Lanka. Some people in the industry say that only the finest Padparadschas come from Sri Lanka, while some consider Padparadschas from Eastern Africa to be just as lovely as the ones from Sri Lanka.


Who wouldn't want a sapphire reminiscent of a lotus flower?

 

It is challenging to find Padparadscha above 2 carats. In New York at the American Museum of Natural History, there is a padparadscha that weighs 100 carats! Isn’t that incredible? In the photo below, the Padparadscha is on top of this sapphire display.


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The Padparadscha is at the top. Isn't it lovely?

The finest padparadscha comes from Sri Lanka, and they have an intense saturation of color. There are also sources in Africa, but some of the rough gems have a brownish tinge.


Some dealers feel that padparadscha from Africa (the Tuduru district of the Umba Valley in Northeast Tanzania) is too brownish or too orange or red for the strict color range. Some suggest calling the rough “African Padparadscha” to modify it. Some people also say that the source isn’t necessary as long as the right color combination exists.


There are also padparadscha sapphires from Vietnam and Madagascar. Look at this lovely gem from Madagascar, which is in the Smithsonian’s collection. It weighs 5.50 carats! Isn’t that lovely?


Gift of Pasha and Laney Thornton in 2002


If you desire a padparadscha, Moijey can find a padparadscha for you, along with a desirable setting.

 

Thank you for stopping by our blog. Next week, we’re going to explore the joys of two phenomenal sapphires: star sapphires and color-change sapphires. We’re speaking in the literal sense. Phenomenal is a technical term in the gem and jewelry industry.