Yellow Sapphire Color
Bright yellow sapphires sparkle with intense color in various shades, so it’s no wonder they’re a popular gemstone. They’re a sought-after stone popular in fine jewelry, and are said to bring the wearer luck, prosperity, and wisdom.
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Yellow Sapphire Formation
Natural sapphires take millions of years to form, like natural diamonds, and no two sapphires look the same. The natural formation of the gemstones makes them rare and unique.
A Matter of Chemistry
Beneath the earth’s surface under immense pressure and intense heat, sapphires form from a mineral called corundum (aluminum oxide) that seep into cracks in igneous or metamorphic rocks. Once the liquid cools, it turns into colorless crystals. 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. Traces of iron create the yellow color that make natural yellow sapphires so special.
Sapphires have a hardness of 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, which means it’s a strong, durable stone that’s ideal for fine jewelry, such as necklaces, earrings, bracelets, engagement rings, and wedding sets.
How are Yellow Sapphires Formed?
Sapphires form from a mineral called corundum (aluminum oxide). The presence of iron when sapphires form creates the yellow color that makes yellow sapphires so special.
Occurrence of Yellow Sapphire
Generally, Sri Lanka produces the finest quality sapphire stones. Additional mining sites for yellow sapphires include Tanzania, Madagascar, Australia, Thailand, and even the United States of America. Today Madagascar holds the most promise for producing high-quality yellow sapphires. The gems are typically found in granite, gneiss, and other igneous rocks subject to high pressure.
Fine, natural yellow sapphires of the highest quality are pretty rare. However, yellow sapphires are not rare.
Modern-Day Yellow Sapphire Mining Deposits
Mining on the island of Sri Lanka goes back at least 2000 years, and they’re known for their Ceylon sapphire. Today, Sri Lanka and Madagascar continue to be a major source of yellow sapphires. Natural yellow sapphires are also mined in Thailand, Australia, USA (Montana), Burma (Myanmar ), Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Tanzania, and Kenya.
Yellow Sapphire Valuation and Treatments
As with most gemstones, the cut is an important factor that affects your sapphire’s sparkle. If your stone has a poor cut, it will look dull and lifeless. Cut allows light and color to enter the stone and have it shine and sparkle.
Yellow sapphires can range in color from greenish yellow to orangish-yellow and everything in between. You’ll see sapphires in pastel light yellow and lemon yellow, to a deep orange-yellow. Generally, the preferred yellow sapphire color is a medium, vibrant, canary yellow.
Like other gemstones, sapphires are graded depending on the amount of inclusions in the stone. Inclusions are naturally occurring crystal growths. Even the best stones are not expected to be totally inclusion free. For surface blemishes, like scratches or chips, it is important you inspect the stone carefully yourself.
Yellow sapphires typically tend to have fewer inclusions than other colors. The best clarity grade for yellow sapphires is perfection, meaning it is completely clear to the naked eye. The next clarity grades are VVS (Very Very Slightly included) and VS (Very Slightly included) grading. These recognize very small inclusions, but don’t seriously impair the sapphire’s appearance.
The quality of the sapphire impacts its price. The average cost for a one-carat yellow sapphire is $420.
Many of the sapphires on the market are treated in some way. The most common is heat treatment. Stones are thermally enhanced to improve color and clarity. Heat treatments with high temperatures can change a pale yellow stone into a vibrant and rich gem. Although heat treatment is prevalent, stones with natural color and clarity are still highly sought-after.
Another common treatment is filling. During this process, the yellow sapphires are infused with chemical flux at high temperatures to fill gaps. This makes them more durable and also improves clarity. Avoid gemstones with a high amount of filler. A treatment to avoid is diffusion. It’s a controversial treatment where lackluster stones are heated to near melting in the presence of colored material. The colored material can diffuse into the nearby stone, which alters the gem's richness, tone, and hue. In general, yellow sapphires exposed to color diffusion can be identified and will be less valuable as a result.
Is yellow sapphire a valuable gem?
Yellow sapphires are a valuable gemstone. Their value varies depending on the size, quality and treatment of the individual gemstone.
Which is the best yellow sapphire color?
Yellow sapphires may be affected by other colors within the same gem and can range from light to dark greenish yellow to orangey yellow with weak to intense color saturation. The most sought-after yellow sapphire is yellow to orangish yellow with vivid saturation.
Is yellow sapphire fit for an engagement ring?
Yes, yellow sapphires make a beautiful center stone in an engagement ring. They’re a more affordable option to a yellow diamond, which is also a popular engagement ring option.
What does the yellow sapphire symbolize?
It’s said that yellow sapphires represent divine grace and power. Some believe the yellow crystal brings knowledge, auspicious wealth and loving relationships to the wearer, and provides general well-being and spiritual knowledge as well.