“Would A Blue Sapphire Engagement Ring Do, My Dear?”
“As long As It’s From Kashmir, Darling.”
What stones are the sexiest to say ‘I do’ in this winter? An Insider’s Guide to the top 3 blue colored gemstones for your engagement ring.
Spoiler alert: They leave diamonds in the dust.
While those on the brink of posing the big question are beginning to feel the heat to go at it like Prince Harry: from a winter proposal to the diamond ring; for some of us – a traditional diamond engagement ring just won’t do.
And, with the colorful trends spotted on the runways from New York to Milan, it’s about time colorful engagement rings shine in the spotlight. Where they belong.
It’s for a reason that several of the most avant-garde and well-known women like Penelope Cruz and Lady Di don exclusive color gemstones instead of the conventional diamond.
Their beaus must have realized that only these special (often historic) stones are capable of matching the unique & captivating personalities of their fiancées.
From monochrome ice blue hues, to deep cornflower or bright electric blue – meet the secret blue stones that have the power to magically amp-up your look from this day – to the ever after;)
Fun fact: They leave diamonds far behind in their uniqueness by letting your personality shine through. And when it comes to beauty & quality – they can easily compete with, or even outshine diamonds.
So, for your engagement this winter -- be inspired by these striking stones:
1) HIGH & MIGHTY BLUE SAPPHIRE
So what is it with these exquisite blue gemstones that they have adorned emperors, kings and queens for millennia?
The stone traditionally symbolizes nobility, sincerity, truth and faithfulness.
Its striking blue is the standard against which all other blue gemstones (such as blue topaz or tanzanite) are measured against.
The stone has been associated with royalty and romance for centuries. In fact, royalty give blue sapphires over diamonds as engagement rings because they’re known to be far rarer than diamonds (remember Lady Di’s blue sapphire engagement ring, now worn by her daughter-in-law?).
Diamonds can easily be spotted globally in almost every jewelry type and every jewelry store – on & offline. This use of diamonds everywhere and its global production prove that diamonds aren’t rare at all; and have a large readily available stock to draw from.
On the other hand, the rate of return of fine quality sapphires, even with the heavy mining in gem producing countries – is far less than most other gemstones. Most sapphires that are mined are worthless or used commercially in the industry for cutting and abrasive purposes because they are so durable. Good pure blue, ‘gem-quality’ sapphires over 2ct are rare and difficult to produce on a consistent basis.
“Only a handful of fine stones are produced world-wide on a daily basis. The market is far greater than what can be produced and prices continue to rise. This is why natural untreated sapphires are a far better investment when considering making a sizeable stone or jewelry purchase.”
You’ve also got to love the varied tones blue sapphires come in… from pale blue to a famous, rich royal blue.
The most mythical one being the ‘Kashmir blue sapphires’, which were found in the remote Great Himalayan mountains of northwestern India in the 1800s.
The stones from this historic origin were mostly of a fine quality with a superb ‘cornflower blue’ color.
They’re renowned for having certain inclusions inside the stone that make the blue appear softer - as if they have a ‘sleepy’ quality (you read that right… sometimes “inclusions” in gemstones are very much wanted because they actually enhance the beauty of certain stones!).
For this reason, Kashmir blue sapphires are often described as deep, intense, ‘velvety’ blue.
The famous mine has been exhausted since the 1920s but some stones can still be found in the market very occasionally - or end up at auctions of Sotheby’s and Christie’s...
This stone will remain out of reach for most of us unfortunately and prices can easily be 10x more than blue sapphires from other regions!
Fear not, there are other beauties out there! Stones from other regions that can rival the beauty of Kashmir sapphires, like from Madagascar or the more dark ‘royal blue’ sapphires from Burma or the beautiful, often lighter blue sapphires from Sri Lanka.
Just note that for all of these stones, no matter the origin, if you want a fine quality blue sapphire in an intense blue color, with not too many inclusions inside the stone and with an excellent cut in a nice size, there can be a waiting period of months before I find the right one for you... Ask me here if you want to know more.
But I’d say worth the while to be dressed in this extraordinary, intoxicating blue, wouldn’t you say?
Why you'll love this stone?
- vivid, intensely saturated and extraordinary blue
- soft & velvety in color due to delicate, intersecting ‘needles’ inside the stone that are called ‘silk’
- incredibly durable
- the historic stone of kings and queens
2) STAND OUT IN SECRET SPINELS
Now, let’s lift the mystery veil off this enthralling stone that very few people in the West know of, and one that you don’t want to miss out on.
For centuries, spinel has been mistaken for ruby and regarded as such in Europe’s crown jewels. It wasn’t until 1783 that the French mineralogist Jean Baptiste Louis Rome de Lisle distinguished spinel as a different mineral from ruby. And this high quality gemstone has often been underappreciated ever since.
The Black Prince’s 'ruby' - or red spinel I should say - is set in England’s Imperial State Crown and displayed in the Tower of London. Its name first appears in the historical records of Moorish Spain in the 14th century as the possession of Abū Sa'īd, the Moorish Prince of Granada. Through several wars and conquests, the stone eventually ended up with the Prince of Wales, the ‘Black Prince’, who received it as a payment for a victory of battle.
And since that time, the stone has been in the possession of several other English monarchs, to finally end up in the State Crown.
The Timur 'ruby' has some illustrious provenance too. Ranging from Mughal emperors to Persian rulers and ultimately being acquired by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1813. When the British annexed the Punjab in 1849, they took possession of the Timur ruby (and the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond by the way) from Duleep Singh, the son of Ranjit Singh and the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. The East India Company presented the Timur Ruby to Queen Victoria as a gift in 1851...
Ancient mines in Central and South East Asia have produced exceptionally large and beautiful spinels for the courts in Europe to China, treasured by kings and emperors and often mistaken for rubies or sapphires.
For centuries, the main source of red and pink spinels has been in modern day Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The red spinel in the "Black Prince’s Ruby crown" probably was mined in the mountains of Afghanistan. But spinel has also long been mined in Sri Lanka and Burma. Newer mines with spinels that rival the intense red and pink colors commonly associated with the historic Burmese spinels, can now be found in Tanzania and Madagascar.
Going back to the color blue…
Blue spinels are very hard to find. Their blue is completely different from the blue of blue sapphires, yet also stunning. They can either be dark ‘black’ blue or a lighter ‘ice’ or lavender blue. Not to forget the famed, often small size, cobalt blue spinels which are found in Vietnam only. The lighter ice or lavender blues are particularly gorgeous to set in an engagement ring.
I find that a spinel tends to sparkle more than blue sapphires, especially when you pick a light ‘ice blue’ spinel. This is because a darker body color will block some of its sparkling effect. The sparkles generally appear more when the stone’s color is lighter and more pastel: precisely what you may be looking for in your engagement ring.
So, it all depends on you and the lady’s style & taste, whether you’d prefer the more intense blue of blue sapphires or the lighter but more sparkly ice blue of spinels. If you’re not sure, you can always get professional help.
Fall in love with this stone for its:
Ø stunning colors ranging from traffic light red, to orange and hot neon pink. And as a stone for an engagement ring, they exist in softer pastel and lavender blues, pinks and glamorous light greys.
Ø great ‘hardness’ (meaning the stone doesn’t scratch easily) and transparency. Spinels are often far more ‘clean’ inside the stone than rubies. This adds to their excellent sparkling brilliance, and makes them belong to the top jewelry gemstones.
Ø historic status of being worn by emperors and kings in ancient times, both in the East and West. Magnificent pieces can be found in one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces by houses such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget and Christian Dior Haute Joaillerie.
3) ENCHANTING ELECTRIC PARAIBA TOURMALINE
I know you’re eager to dive right into the glossiest parts of this stone.
But, laying the ground work will make you treasure this stone even more.
Let’s get right on to it, shall we?
Paraiba, a state in Brazil, was the place where this rare and gorgeous neon-colored gemstone was first discovered not that long ago, in 1989.
The moment these stones were discovered, they caused quite a frenzy on the market. People (especially in the West and in Japan) fell for this incredibly vivid blue, turquoise or green stone - which seemed to glow from within – causing the per carat price to go up pretty quickly.
This was further intensified by the fact that the mine was exhausted quite soon after... so that was short but sweet; a bit similar to the situation of the historic Kashmir blue sapphires.
Luckily for us, very similar material has been discovered in Mozambique and Nigeria around 2000.
And nope, unfortunately this didn’t mean the price of Paraiba tourmaline came down.
Color stones in general and this stone in particular, remain a very rare thing. To give you some perspective, for every 10,000 diamonds that are mined, they find 1 gem-quality Paraiba tourmaline. And this stone can easily fetch five figures per carat.
When similar gem material was found in Mozambique and Nigeria, a discussion arose in the gemology world whether these stones could even be called ‘Paraiba tourmalines’ when not coming from Brazil.
It was decided that labs around the world can still issue a certificate stating ‘Paraiba tourmaline’ even if the stone isn’t mined in Paraiba, Brazil provided that 2 conditions are fulfilled:
1) the labs’ gemologists regard the color of the stone as ‘electric or vivid blue or green’, AND
2) the stone contains the chemical elements of both copper and manganese which cause its color.
Almost all the Paraibas you find now on the market are from Mozambique and this origin really shouldn’t stop you from buying one! Beauty is what matters most at the end of the day (unless you're an investor or collector and only want certain stones from certain origins, in which case you need to be aware that you're going to pay even more as you'll basically buy a 'brand').
These stones being so rare, we should be glad there are a few more discovered in these other countries, so we can at least still get them!
As long as you have a certificate issued by an international gem lab - see more details on what to watch out for in my blog '5 Things Only Gemdealers Know - And Why You Should Too When Buying A Colored Gemstone' - that states it’s a Paraiba tourmaline and the stone appeals to you in color, cut, sparkle – you’re good to go :)
A note of care regarding this exceptional stone: it can have some ‘inclusions’ inside the stone (normal for this gem) – which means you’ll need to be careful how & where you wear it. It’s best to use a Paraiba as a cocktail ring.
Don’t worry, this still leaves plenty of occasions open and its hypnotizing color is not something you want to miss ;).
So, having laid bare these 3 precious stones…I bet you now realize that as much as there’s all the hype about diamonds for your engagement, you can make a more expressive choice in the form of colored gemstones instead.
You’re a maverick, right? You want something more tailored to your (or her) uniqueness!
That’s why choosing the perfect color gemstones for your engagement ring will be so much more personal. And sparkling winter blue may just be the way to go…
Pop the question with a colorful engagement ring this winter.
For professional help and more information about any of these stones or rings, ASK Eva!
Thank You xox
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