The recent engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton has sparked a renewed interest in sapphire engagement rings, thanks to Princess Diana’s stunning 18 carat blue sapphire ring which Miss Middleton now wears. Sapphires are actually excellent gems for engagement rings for several reasons and can be a nice alternative to the standard diamond ring. Learn more about sapphires and decide if one might be perfect for your engagement ring.
Engagement ring styles come in and out of fashion (marquis shaped sapphire engagement ring diamond, anyone?), but a few constants remain true in bridal jewelry sets. The first is that the style should transcend a particular time, since it is a piece of jewelry which will hopefully be worn for decades to come. The other is that the ring must be durable enough to withstand daily wear. That is why certain otherwise popular gems such as tanzanites or emeralds make less-than-ideal engagement ring stones. The sapphire, however, is second hardest only to diamonds, and as such makes a very practical as well as beautiful choice for bridal jewelry sets.
The sapphire is a member of the mineral family corundum, which also includes rubies. While blue sapphires are the best known, the gem can actually be found in a wide number of colors, including purple, pink, green, orange, and yellow. When a corundum reaches a certain saturation of red color, it is classified as a ruby; in any other color, the gem is a sapphire. Blue sapphires are the most popular for engagement rings for several reasons. Unlike a more vibrant hue like an orange gem, the blue color is fairly neutral, meaning it will complement any other jewelry that the woman chooses to wear with it, from bridal jewelry sets to everyday jewelry. Blue is also appropriate for a ring pledging betrothal because the color has symbolized fidelity since Biblical times.
Another excellent choice for a sapphire engagement ring is a yellow sapphire. Their popularity has increased in the last decade as a response to the yellow or canary diamond trend. A yellow sapphire can be found in a very rich hue, but costs a small fraction of a rare canary diamond. They look especially gorgeous in couture style ring settings with micro-pave diamond accents. Yellow gold prongs should be used over the yellow sapphire to help retain its rich color, and the white diamonds should be set in white gold or platinum to make them as icy as possible.
Pink sapphires are fabulous for the woman who loves very girly jewelry. A pink sapphire generally looks best set in white gold or platinum, and will usually feature side diamonds for sparkle. In fact, most sapphire engagement rings will have some diamond trim, because the sapphire itself does not have the same sparkle and fire as a diamond. When you combine the rich color of the gem with the icy sparkle of diamonds, you get the best of both worlds!
Shopping for a sapphire engagement ring is different than shopping for a diamond ring because you are going on more subjective qualities. The exact hue which most appeals to an individual is a matter of personal taste, unlike in diamonds which have a uniform color grading system. That said, there are still certain things one should look for in a sapphire. The color saturation should be even throughout the stone and you should not see any “windows”, which are clear areas.
Colored gems are often cut deeper than diamonds because the extra weight on the bottom helps to make the color richer. For that reason, expect to select the gem size by its diameter, rather than the carat weight. To give you an idea, a 6.5 mm round sapphire is appropriately the same size as a 1 carat diamond, although it will probably weigh more. Always inquire about any treatments or enhancements which your sapphire may have undergone. Permanent treatments such as enhancing color with heat are fairly common and widely accepted, while the use of fillers would be a reason to pass on a gem. Without a doubt, a sapphire can make a beautiful choice for an engagement ring, whether you like a classic style like Kate Middleton’s ring or something more modern and eclectic.