Posted on August 28, 2014 by Mary Hood | 1 Comment
These days, engagement rings aren’t limited to diamonds alone. It’s becoming increasingly common to see colorful stones stealing the show in nontraditional ring settings. But colored gems aren’t for everyone—there’s something classic about a clear gem dazzling your left ring finger.
White sapphires are a beautiful, economical choice for a clear gems. Like diamonds, they combine nicely with other stones and various metals. In fact, they can look particularly beautiful in clusters and as accent stones. In the right setting, white sapphires can trick the eye into thinking they’re more sparkly then they are.
Of course, a white sapphire isn’t an exact replacement for a diamond, and if you’re considering featuring one in your engagement ring, it’s important to understand the different structures of the two stones.
But first, what is a white sapphire? White sapphires are actually very light blue or yellow sapphires. Sapphires—and rubies—are both corundums and are 9 Mohs on the Mohs Gem Hardness Scale. Corundums comes in an array of colors—not just red and blue. Their color comes from trace elements in the stone.
In its purest from, a corundum is described as either a white sapphire or a colorless sapphire. The closer the stone is to being colorless, the greater its value as a white sapphire. Very light traces of color will reduce its value. Read more about sapphire coloring and value here.
The structural differences between diamonds and sapphires mean that the stones will wear differently over time. Because a diamond is incredibly hard (a 10 on the Mohs scale), it’s resistant to scratches and abrasion. A sapphire, however, is tougher, essentially meaning that it’s more resistant to chips.
Over time and wear, a diamond will retain it’s sparkle (assuming it’s clean) while a sapphire may need to be professionally polished from time to time in order to maintain its original gloss.
Something old: White sapphires make appearances in antique rings. With occasional polishing, a sapphire will stand the test of time.
But durability probably isn’t your only concern. What about sparkle?
Diamonds are highly refractive and reflective. When cut properly, they refract light into every color of the rainbow. Other colorless stones, however, usually only disperse white light, making them appear shiny but certainly less brilliant than a diamond.
Even if diamonds are slightly dirty (as they will get between cleanings if you’re wearing your ring every day), they can still dazzle. A white sapphire, however, can look cloudy with just a little everyday grime. Even if you’re not concerned about brilliance, if you do have a white sapphire ring, you may still want to consider cleaning it regularly to keep it looking pretty and polished.
The choice between a white sapphire stone and a diamond is ultimately yours and will come down to your budget and your style preferences. Whether or not you’re in the market for a white sapphire ring, you may be interested in mining for a sapphire (of any color) yourself! Here are a few U.S. sapphire mines that look fun for the gem-lover—and her family:
Photos: Barbara Michelle Jacobs, PenelliBelle