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Padparadscha Sapphire Gemstones

Updated on August 1, 2010

What is Padparadscha

The rarest and most prized fancy corundum in the world is the padparadscha sapphire. It is a special variety of gem corundum, it is a bright pinkish-orange gemstone with qualities that are debated among some dealers and jewelers. Padparadscha sapphire is somehow a combination between yellow sapphire and ruby.

Padparadscha is derived from the Singhalese/Sankrit padmaraga (Padma meaning lotus and raga meaning colour), a color akin to the lotus flower (nelumbo nucifera). The Germans corrupted this Sinhalese name as “Padparadscha” and today that is what internationally used. Most lotus blossoms are far more pink than orange, and padmaraga was described in ancient times as a subvariety of ruby. Today, the gem's color is defined as a blend of lotus and sunset.

Padparadscha Sapphire

A blend of lotus and sunset
A blend of lotus and sunset

Padparadscha Color

It was agreed many years ago that the name "Padparascha" should be used exclusively for Sri Lankan sapphire with orange-pink to pinkish-orange color hues. Subsequently many stones of similar hues with brownish tint found in East Africa was called "African Padparadscha" . But after so many discussions, it has been agreed to call the stones "brownish orange sapphire" and not to use the word Padparadscha. The name carries a huge price tag. Any stone called as Padparadscha instead of pinkish-orange sapphire (refering to its appearance), it will be priced several times higher.

It is extremely rare and therefore expensive. Prices for padparadschas vary greatly according to their quality and size. At the top end, these gems may reach as much as US$30,000 per carat. The sizes of padparadscha tend to be similar with ruby. The largest fine stone known is perhaps the 100.18-ct. oval in American Museum of Natural History in New York. But any fine untreated padparadcsha of quality above two carats is a rare stone and fine untreated padparadschas above five carats can be considered as world-class pieces.

Where are most valuable padparadschas can be found

Padparadscha sapphire tends to be found only in Sri Lanka, although they have occasionally been found elsewhere. While the colors of sapphires mostly range from pastel to a deep, clear version of color, but padparadscha sapphire should have a clear, bright, fiery quality that a lighter-colored gemstone cannot possess. The important parts that make the padparadscha so valuable is the brightness and vividnes of the color. Unlike other sapphires and rubies, the padparadscha’s finest color is not directly a function of color intensity (saturation). Padparadschas of the most valuable ones display a delicate mixture of pink and orange.

Sri Lanka is the only place many people said where you can find the rarest and most valuable sapphire. Beside Sri Lanka, Tanzania, in Umba Valley also fall in the group. Padparadscha sapphires are so expensive that most people cannot afford to make mistake when identifying and purchasing one. Ask a licensed jewelers and they should be able to help you to decide if you have a real padparadcsha on your hands or a clever fake.

Padparadscha Treatments

Generally no special care needed, all sapphires and rubies can be cleaned using detergent or hot soapy water. Make sure to rinse thoroughly afterwards as detergents can cause dermatitis and allergic reactions. Avoid enzyme cleaners for the same reason. To remove dirt and grease, brush it with an old toothbrush. Cleaning agents containing chlorine is not recommended as it may have a detrimental effect on low carat gold alloys. Surface diffusion, dying, oiling and irradiation are other special treatments to enhance the appearance of the stone. Thermal enhancement is a normal and accepted practice within the gem trade, as long as the treatment is provable and/or disclosed. Stones with no evidence of heating are rarer and substantially more valuable.

And of course, synthetic sapphires, although they are sapphires of the same color but are excluded as true padparadscha within the gem trade. The term ‘Padparadscha’ is always reserved for natural stones, mined from mother earth.


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    • PETER LUMETTA profile image

      PETER LUMETTA 6 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      The first time I saw a Padparasha i was taken. Their beauty is something you have to see to appreciate. Lots of heavily treated stones on the market today have diluted the rarity but they come and go. The naturals are still the best.