Natural vs. Synthetic Pink Sapphire
Pink sapphires attract attention because they sparkle with an intense, unique color. They’re a beautiful gemstone available in natural form and synthetic. You can find pink sapphires in all types of jewelry, including earrings and engagement rings.
What is a Pink Sapphire?
Like diamonds, natural sapphires take millions of years to form, and no two natural sapphires look the same. That’s what makes each gemstone unique. Natural sapphires are formed beneath the earth’s surface under immense pressure and intense heat out of a mineral called corundum (aluminum oxide) that seeps into cracks in igneous or metamorphic rocks. Once the liquid cools, it turns into colorless crystals. However, when tiny traces of other minerals (often as small as 1%) mix with corundum, it turns the stone into various colors such as red, pink, blue, yellow, orange, etc. If the chromium content is higher you get a deeper red color, which makes the stone a ruby. If the chromium content is lower, then you'll see a pink sapphire.
Where Are Natural Pink Sapphires Mined?
Natural pink sapphires are more available since new deposits were discovered in Madagascar in the late 1990s. Until then, pink sapphires were considered exceptionally rare since they were only found in a few locations around the world, including Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and East Africa.
An extremely rare version of the pink sapphire is a pinkish-orange padparadscha sapphire that comes from Sri Lanka, and its name comes from Sri Lanka’s lotus blossoms.
What Makes Pink Sapphires Special?
In addition to their unique color, sapphires are also the September birthstone. You’ll often see blue sapphires as the birthstone, but you now know that sapphires come in all sorts of stunning colors.
Pink sapphires have been symbols of love, sincerity, loyalty, and trust. In some Asian stories, these gemstones get compared to the sacred lotus flower, which represents beauty, wisdom, and purity.
The intense pink hues continue to draw in people, so you’ll see pink sapphires in all types of jewelry. Their popularity is increasing as an engagement ring gemstone, and you’ll also see pink sapphires in bracelets, earrings, necklaces, etc.
Synthetic Pink Sapphires
Synthetic pink sapphires are man-made in a laboratory and have the same chemical, structure, and optical qualities as natural sapphires. Methods to create synthetic sapphires include the flux lab and flame fusion. Flux lab involves dissolving elements and letting time bring them together into a crystal, and this process is similar to the natural process of creating sapphires in the earth. Flame fusion method creates sapphires from powdered elements. These stones do not have the same structure as natural or flux grown sapphires. Instead, their crystal structure is curved, and not angular and they’re flawless.
In addition to all the colors of the rainbow, you can find varying shades of synthetic pink sapphires from a light pink to an intense magenta. These stones continue to be popular and sought after, so keep an eye out as you browse for jewelry.
Natural Pink Sapphire vs. Synthetic Pink Sapphire: What’s the difference?
Like other gemstones, natural sapphires are formed within the earth’s crust and lab sapphires are grown in controlled environments. Natural stones take millions of years to form while lab-created sapphires can be created quicker. Additionally, lab-created sapphires cost less per carat than natural sapphires because naturally-formed stones are rarer and more sought-after.
How can you tell the difference between natural and synthetic Pink Sapphire?
- Inclusions: Lab-created sapphires can be flawless but natural sapphires often have flaws and inclusions. Use a microscope or a jeweler’s loupe to examine the gemstone. A synthetic stone made with glass will have bubbles.
- Scratch: Sapphires rank a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale (second only to a diamond). You can try this by scratching the stone with a diamond, a key or a coin. If a mark is left, you'll know it’s fake. Keep in mind that this can damage the gemstone.
- Breath: This sounds odd, but it works. Breathe on the sapphire. A natural sapphire will defog in a second or two while an artificial one takes longer.
- Light: Turn out the lights in a room and shine a flashlight on the pink sapphire. It should reflect only the color of the stone. If it reflects other colors besides pink, it’s a fake.
You might be curious how to tell the difference between a natural and a synthetic pink sapphire. Here are some tips:
Caring for Pink Sapphires
Carefully storing and cleaning your pink sapphires keeps them safe for years to come. You can keep your gemstones sparkling by cleaning jewelry with a soft toothbrush, warm water, and mild dish soap without any abrasives or moisturizers. It’s also good to periodically monitor the stones in your jewelry to ensure the prongs are holding your pink sapphires in place. Store fine jewelry, including any of your pink sapphires, in a lined jewelry box and keep your items separated from other jewelry. This can prevent other jewelry from scratching your pink sapphires or the metal.
Are pink sapphires valuable?
Yes, pink sapphires are a valuable gemstone. Natural sapphires are worth more because they’re found naturally rather than lab created. The color of the pink sapphire determines its worth.
What is the cost of a pink sapphire?
The cost of the pink sapphire depends on its color, cut and carat. Natural pink sapphires will cost more than lab-made pink sapphires. On average, a one-carat natural pink sapphire will cost between $900 and $3,000.
Is pink sapphire a birthstone?
Sapphire is September's birthstone, but you’ll typically see the blue version. This beautiful gemstone is also the gem traditionally given on 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries.
Are pink sapphires rare?
Pink sapphires were considered to be quite rare until new deposits in Madagascar were discovered in the 1990s. Today pink sapphires are still rare but more widely available.