Posts tagged Padparascha sapphire

A close up view of an exceptional padparadscha sapphire, showing that special mix of orange and pink which the stone needs to qualify as such.

The lotus flower, from which the padparadscha sapphire derives its name.

When Princess Eugenie announced her engagement ring to Jack Brooksbank she showed off an engagement ring set with one of the most special sapphires available to gem collectors: a padparadscha sapphire.  The name is almost unpronounceable (you literally have to say it a syllable at a time) and it derives from the Sinhalese word for lotus blossom.  We know that sapphires come in every colour under the Sun- but for a sapphire to qualify as padparadscha it needs to exhibit a very particular shade which is a mixture of a delicate pink and orange.  Otherwise it is just a plain old orange or pink sapphire, which are plentiful.  A genuine padparadscha is very rare, fetching higher prices than the finest blue sapphires.

Princess Eugenie's engagement ring, set with a rare padparadscha sapphire

The world of coloured gems is extremely subjective and the sapphires of this elusive hue divide camps more than most other coloured stones.  Padparadschas are most commonly found in Sri Lanka and some purists argue that to qualify as such this is where the stone must originate from.  However, examples have been mined in Vietnam and East Africa.  The special hue of orange and pink comes from trace amounts of chromium and iron in the crystal.  I would personally argue that if the chemical make up is identical to that of Sri Lankan stones it qualifies as a padparadscha.

A record breaking stone: this padparadscha sapphire weighing 20.84 carats fetched over $375,000 at auction in 2005.

Experts also argue on the level of pink or orange the stone must exhibit to qualify as a prime example: orangey-pink or pinkish-orange? Very orange with a touch of pink or vice versa?  If you are interested in buying one and want the genuine article it is best to insist on buying a stone certified by a reputable laboratory, such as GIA.  The price increases exponentially with the saturation of the colour and the carat weight.  Again, colour here is subjective- you don’t want a stone so strong that none of the light and clarity has a chance to shine through.  You want a stone that has that ‘limpid’ quality, or what used to be known as ‘water’ in the old days.  Personally, I like padparadschas that are just a shade stronger than pastel.

As with the majority of coloured stones on the market it is not uncommon to see heat treated examples on offer.  These stones are so rare that treatment is common to enhance the colour- even the treated examples, if they are of good quality, will command prices of several thousand dollars a carat.  They are not stones that are easily available in large sizes; anything over two carats is rare, anything over five is newsworthy.

Padparadschas continue to enthral because they are genuinely rare- if you are ever lucky enough to possess one, you will be completely fascinated, as its dual tonality can make the colour look quite different under different light sources. 


The Biennale des Antiquaires was held with the usual fanfare this year in its usual venue in the Grand Palais in Paris.  It was my first visit to the Biennale and I loved the magnificent setting of the Palais, a fitting foil for the magnificent exhibits on show.  My head was turned by the variety of the exhibitors, but of course I went to see the jewellery.  Some of the big names were conspicuous by their absence, but there were a couple of newcomers, young companies who were outstanding: Cindy Chao and Nirav Modi.

In no particular order, the pieces I would have taken home:

  1. Rose Petal Earrings by Cindy Chao.

A truly original pair of earrings which epitomises Cindy’s fascination with nature.  Like in nature, no two are exactly the same and this is reflected in the asymmetric nature of the piece.  The earrings are fashioned in titanium- a very laborious process which nevertheless makes them very light to wear.  The mosaic pavé work of the different sized stones is a masterclass in the art of stone setting.

Asymmetric Beauty: Rose petal earrings in ruby and diamonds by Cindy Chao.

      2.  Padparascha Sapphire Lotus Ring by Nirav Modi

The central stone is a rare, unheated padparascha sapphire of peerless quality.  It is surrounded by beautiful D coloured diamonds that have been so finely set they look like they float on the hand.  Nirav Modi is opening his new showroom in Bond Street in London this month and we wish him every success

Pretty in Pink: Padparascha sapphire Lotus ring by Nirav Modi.

      3.  Art Nouveau Pendant by Georges Fouquet, exhibited by Epoque Fine Jewels. 

This Belgian company is well known in the high end art fair circuit, but I only came across it for the first time at the Biennale.  It specialises in very beautiful, very unique Art Nouveau jewels of museum quality- the value of these jewels lies in the piece as a whole, not the constituent parts.  This woman’s head pendant particularly took my fancy and would leave any true jewellery connoisseur drooling.

Museum quality piece: Art Nouveau pendant by Georges Fouquet.

      4.  Pink and Blue Diamond Necklace by Cartier, exhibited by Véronique Bamps.

This exhibitor had also been honoured by being awarded a coveted place in the Salon d’Honneur.  While many jewellers today would be tempted to overdress such an important stone such as this one, this necklace showed classic Cartier restraint and good taste.  The very pale pink pearls on which the pink diamond was suspended is a triumph of colour matching.

Restrained flamboyance: Cartier pink and blue diamond necklace.

      5.  Platinum and Diamond Tiara, probably by Chaumet, exhibited by Alain Pautot.

I couldn’t go to a jewellery show in Paris and not be taken in by a diamond tiara... Although not signed, this superb piece is thought to be by Chaumet, made at the turn of the century.  It is a lovely example of a Garland Style jewel and not difficult to see why Chaumet supplied anyone who was anyone with glittering headgear during the heady days of the Belle Epoque.

Belle Epoque beauty: Platinum and diamond tiara exhibited by Alain Pautot.