Those sapphires that have a particular mix of orange and pink are called padparadscha sapphires.
It is called Padmaraga in Sri Lanka, but it is more commonly known as Padparadscha sapphire around the world. The name Padmaraga is derived from the Sanskrit, meaning lotus (Padma) colour (Raga), signifying the vibrant mix of pink and orange tones reflected by the gemstone.
There is another variety of sapphire known as Pushparagain Sri Lanka. Pushparaga sapphire is a mix of yellow and pink tones. In Sri Lanka Pushparaga sapphires also attract a premium price, but they are less widely known around the world. We believe the word Padparadscha derived from the combination of words Padmaraga and Pushparaga.
Padparadscha sapphire was first found in Sri Lanka hundreds of years ago. Although in recent years similar coloured sapphires have been found elsewhere in the world, many experts in the industry maintain the view that only those found in Sri Lanka should be called Padparadscha and those found elsewhere in the world should rather be called Pinkish Orange or Orangish Pink than giving the romantic term Padparadscha.
Padparadscha is the rarest of all sapphires. A finest quality Padparadscha sapphire can fetch up to $30,000 per carat even for a one carat sapphire. It is such a delicate mix of colour and the price greatly depends on the buyer’s taste, affordability and the seller’s willingness to sell as with all gems but more significantly with this rare gemstone.
In Sri Lankan gem market, the Padparadscha sapphire tones vary from the colour of a lotus which is more pink than orange, to the colour of the sunset which is more orange than pink. How do you define the colour of a lotus or the colour of the sunset? There is no definition in terms of how much of each tone makes the mix of this enchanting Padparadscha sapphire. We think it is this mysteriousness that makes Padparadscha even more romantic and intriguing, and it is left up to the bearer to decide what tone attracts him or her the most.
These precious Padparadscha sapphires are extremely rare in nature. We have seen many sellers who claim to sell untreated sapphires yet still sell treated Padparadscha sapphires. These treated sapphires could be heat treated, diffusion treated, dyed, oiled or irradiated to obtain the colour. It is impossible even for a highly experienced gemologist to identify the Beryllium (Be) treatment; they can identify that the stone has been heat treated but as the Be treatment can penetrate through the complete stone, it is impossible to identify if the stone has simply been heat treated or Be treated. For this reason, the price of treated Padparadscha and untreated Padparadscha sapphire varies significantly.
In terms of the clarity of a Padparadscha sapphire, it is desirable to be eye clean. However, due to rarity some inclusions do not matter if the colour is right. It is also vital to bear in mind that it is those inclusions that can tell us whether a sapphire has been treated or not as many of those inclusions melt away or change their form once a sapphire has been heat treated.
Would you rather have a clean, treated stone or a rare, slightly included untreated stone? It really is your personal preference.
During a visit to Sri Lanka, we came across the above stunning Padparadscha (or Padmaraga as we like to call it). It is of great clarity other than a fingerprint inclusion closer to the girdle (edge) of the sapphire visible at close inspection. It has a beautiful mix of pastel pink and orange tones. Its pastel colour and great cut give this Padparadscha a fabulous lustre.
Many gem suppliers have never even seen a Padparadscha sapphire in real life due to its rarity. We feel lucky to have had some in our collection.
The romance of these mysterious Padparadscha sapphires will continue to impress many around the world.