Sapphires: the perfect gem for a colourful engagement

Discover the surprising facts about sapphires that make them the number one choice for a coloured gemstone engagement ring.

Tiffany yellow sapphire engagement ring

Diamonds, the hardest stone on the planet, may be forever, which is why they are so popular for engagement rings. But what if you are looking beyond a diamond for a gem that will last a lifetime? We are here to help and, as the experts in jewellery, we want to make sure you find a ring that is both beautiful and resilient enough for daily wear.

If your heart is set on something colourful, we suggest a sapphire should be your number one choice. Graded 9 on the Mohs scale for hardness (a diamond is 10), sapphires are one of the hardest stone after diamonds, making them amongst the most durable of all the coloured gems. Softer stones may look lovely, but they may not last as long as your love. Which explains why we see so many sapphire engagement rings.

Ceylon blue sapphire engagement ring
This midnight-blue sapphire ring by David Morris is reminiscent of Princess Diana’s iconic engagement ring (POA).

Most people associate sapphires with the colour blue, and the most famous blue sapphire engagement ring has to be Princess Diana’s, now worn by Kate Middleton, with its desirable deep-blue velvety tone. But did you know that they come in almost every colour under the sun? Offering a rainbow of colours and every hue in between, pink sapphire engagement rings are becoming more popular, together with yellow.

Josephine Aube Printanière pink sapphire ring
Chaumet’s Joséphine "Aube Printanière" ring showcases a central pear-shaped pink sapphire weighing from 1.6 carats upwards (POA).

While you may want to stick with a classic deep blue sapphire, you could consider exploring lighter shades of blue or even unusual tones like mauve or lilac (browse the gallery below for examples). Or give the eternally popular blue sapphire an update with a contemporary design like this one by McCaul.

You may be wondering why I haven’t yet mentioned rubies. That is because rubies are, in fact, red sapphires. Rubies and sapphires are made up of the same mineral: corundum. With the exception of the trace elements that give them their colour, the scientific make-up of both rubies and sapphires is exactly the same.

Red corundums are known as “rubies”, while blue corundums are referred to as “sapphires”. Any other colour of corundum is called a “fancy sapphire”.  At which point a ruby becomes a pink sapphire is somewhat more complex but always buy from a reputable jeweller, who will give you guidance and a certificate of origin for the stone.

Oval ruby engagement ring
This one-of-a-kind engagement ring by Fabergé features an oval Mozambique ruby and white diamonds set in platinum (£145,312).

Even rubies come in a range of hues, from the traditional pigeon’s blood red, above, to lighter pink rubies from Africa, below, from recently discovered mines. With the discovery of new sources for rubies, we are more open to different hues, and lighter blues and reds are now being used by even the most traditional of jewellers.

Wisteria Burmese ruby engagement ring
Boodles’ brightly coloured Wisteria ring is comprised of a 1.54 carat natural unheated Burmese ruby surrounded by diamonds (£23,000).

A sunny yellow sapphire (top of article) is also very appealing. Bright and optimistic, they are a much more affordable alternative to the increasingly popular yellow diamond. And we have even found a green sapphire engagement ring, below.

So if it is colour, durability and wow factor you are after for your dream engagement ring, make sure sapphire is top of your list.

Green sapphire engagement ring
This majestic green sapphire weighs 5.10 carats and was set by Hirsh into a handmade platinum setting (£15,000). 

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