A Padparadscha Sapphire is a rare mix of pink and orange colors and is considered one of the most expensive sapphires in the world. The only way a sapphire can be called “Padparadscha,” is if the color falls within the appropriate narrow mixture of pink and orange. A reputable independent lab must confirm this unique color combination through color stability testing.
The name itself comes from the Sinhalese word: “padmaragaya (lotus-color see photo). (Crowningshield, 1983). GIA describes Padparadscha Sapphire: as “salmon or sunset” color and also as the flesh of a ripe guava as a color reference. Universally, industry experts usually agree that padparadscha sapphire colors must have both pink and orange mixed. Most International Labs define the color as “a subtle mixture of pinkish orange to orangey pink with pastel tones and low to medium saturations when viewed in standard light. (LMHC Information Sheet #4, 2018). The Labs that follow this verbatim definition include:
- CGL Laboratory (Japan),
- CISGEM Laboratory (Italy),
- DSEF Laboratory (Germany),
- GIA Laboratory (USA),
- GIT-Gem Testing Laboratory (Thailand),
- Gubelin Gem Lab Ltd (Switzerland), and
- Swiss Gemmological Institute-SSEF (Switzerland).
How can I know if my sapphire is Padparadscha?
- Be extremely cautious when someone tells you what you are getting is a Padparadscha Sapphire.
- NO ONE CAN CALL A STONE PADPARADSCHA SAPPHIRE WITHOUT A INDEPENDENT REPUTABLE LAB REPORT.
- Independent Reputable Lab reports must be independent and not affiliated with the company selling the stone. For example, Acme Gem Corporation has an Acme Gem Lab Report saying the stone is a Padparadscha. This is not sufficient. Company’s have a self interest to call stones Padparadscha due to their additional value.
Distinguishing a Padparadscha
There can be great difficulty in distinguishing Padparadscha Sapphire from a fancy sapphire.
How do you tell the difference between a Pink Sapphire, an Orange Sapphire, and a Padparadscha Sapphire?
Compare the three stones below:
Pictured Left: GIA Pink Sapphire.
Middle: GIA Padparadscha Sapphire.
Pictured Right: GIA Orange Sapphire.
What’s NOT A Padparadscha
The difference between padparadscha sapphire and a fancy sapphire is a careful consideration. Reputable labs will first look at the color. The Color is the highest burden to pass. However, even if the color meets the color variation, their still needs to be a closer look at the following.
The LMHC in its Information Sheet #4 uses the following as Padparadscha disqualifications:
- If the stone has any colour modifier other than pink or orange
- the stone has major uneven colour distribution when viewed with the unaided eye and table up +/- 30°
- Presence of yellow or orange epigenetic material in fissure(s) affecting the overall colour of the stone
- If the stone has been treated as described in Information Sheets #2 and #3
- The stone has been treated by irradiation
- The colour of the stone is not stable and shifting out of the padparadscha colour range (e.g. shifting o pink) by a colour stability test
- If the stone has been dyed, coated, painted, varnished or sputtered. (emphasis added).
A real padparadscha sapphire will not fade under any lighting or heating circumstances. (See #6 Above)
What’s important to note here is that a sapphire may appear to have beautiful orange pink and/or pink orange hues, but simply fade away and lose it.
The fading must reach a level that falls outside the narrow definition of padparadscha to a point where it simply appears as a pink sapphire.
One interesting scenario has come up: what if both the color before the fading and after the fading still meet the criteria of Padparadscha?
AGL and Color Stability Padparadscha
According to Chris Smith of AGL, “If the color shift involves two adjacent color varieties, such as Pink Sapphire and Padparadscha Sapphire, or Padparadscha and Orange Sapphire, the color variety Fancy Sapphire will be indicated on the AGL report.”
In such a case, AGL will comment: “This gemstone possesses an intriguing natural phenomenon where a color-center can become active or relaxed (inactive) based on prolonged exposure to various sources of light and/or heat.”
This color range occurs in limited scenarios. These Pads can be called: chameleon or color change padparadschas.
GRS Type Padparadscha
Gem Research SwissLab (Commonly known as GRS) characterizes Padparadscha as the color of “Sri Lankan lotus blossoms (padma); but also, the orange and pink color mix observed during sunrise and sunset. (GemResearch Swisslab, 2017). Sunrise describes “Padaradschas with medium weak to strong saturation of pre-dominantly pink with orange color.” Sunset describes “Padaradschas with medium weak to strong saturation of pre-dominantly orange with pink color.”
GIA Pioneer Robert Crowningshield, cited one of the earliest recorded definitions of Padparadscha Sapphire: “padmaraga in sanscrit refers to lotus color or rose red…in Bengali: padmaraga and padmaragmani, ‘mani’ being the suffix for the stone.” (Crowningshield, 1983). GRS has its own criteria for determining what meets the color definition. Often times color modifiers of brown, yellow, or red will still get GRS Padparadscha. GRS is not a member of the LMHC, and does not follow the disqualification criteria set out above. Often times some stones will be rejected by AGL or GIA, but accepted as Padparadscha by GRS.
For us, the pear and square shape padparadscha sapphires epitomize the universal definition and criteria by all labs
The Rare Gem’s opinion that the best and most accurate way a Padparadscha Sapphire can be properly given the true classification is by a reputable gem lab that abides by the standard’s set forth by the LMHC.
We also believe the strict standard set by AGL is sufficient.
The only true padparadscha will be one that is supported by a reputable lab with a correct color and reliable testing. At the end of the day the most important standard to go by is the one accepted by the person who will own the gemstone.See Some of our limited Padparadscha Sapphires