By Lorraine DePasque, Contributing Editor
With fashion's brilliant comeback of all-things-colorful, it's not surprising that fancy sapphires have fast-become jewelry's must-have. From a kaleidoscopic palette of intense pinks, purples, and oranges to pastel greens, yellows, and lavenders, there's a sapphire shade for everyone—what ever your favorite color happens to be! When you see this gem (which also holds the honor of being September's birthstone) in any color other than blue, it' called, quite fittingly, “a fancy sapphire.”
The Key Fashion Colors
That said, all through next year, “On the runways, the ‘hot spice' colors will be particularly hot—curry, paprika, cayenne, pimento, and cinnamon,” says David Wolfe, creative director of the international fashion color and trend forecasting agency, The Doneger Group in New York City. Wolfe describes the shades as “curry, paprika, cayenne, pimento, and cinnamon.” Subsequently, fancy sapphires in vivid pinks and oranges are really set to sizzle! But side-by-side, so, too, are some of the softer, more delicate sapphire hues, those coordinating with what Wolfe calls fashion's “powder-puff pales--like baby pink, salmon, tea rose, pastel lilac, and lemon icing.” Hence, fancy sapphires in cake-frost pinks, peaches, lavenders, yellows, and greens will be perfect fashion accessories.
Did jewelry designers have a crystal ball? If not, how did so many know to focus their newest collections on sapphire's sparkling spectrum? When asked, most say they've always been dazzled by sapphire—and not only the rich and velvety blue variety that most of us “mere mortals” think of when we hear the gem's name (understandable, since its name in Latin, Sapphiru, actually means blue ). But as L.A. jewelry designer, Dallas Prince explains, “No other gemstone has the elegant beauty and vibrant color palette as the sapphire.” With a strong celebrity clientele, many choose Prince's jewelry to wear at various red carpet events.
Speaking of red carpets, at the 83 rd Annual Academy Awards, fancy sapphire style was a popular choice among Hollywood's glitterati. Remember Penelope Cruz's dazzling 10-carat pink sapphire ring? And Marisa Tomei's bold yellow sapphire “Oscar earrings”? “In my opinion, sapphires have become the new diamond,” says Prince.
The Allure, Attraction, and Attributes
“Well, sapphires are more rare than diamonds,” says jewelry designer Jeffrey Bilgore, “and they absolutely offer a purer color than natural color diamonds.” Bilgore, who's won 18 awards in AGTA's annual Spectrum Awards competition for jewelry design and gem cutting, adds, “The richer hues of fancy color sapphires exceed the saturation of natural color diamonds—and at a fraction of the cost. Even the pastels in fancy sapphires are better than the pastels in colored diamonds. In the intense shades, the top color in a vivid pink diamond doesn't look any thing like a high-quality vivid pink sapphire.”
Another award-winning jewelry designer, Jane Taylor, known for her versatile everyday jewelry for women, says, “Sapphires are sparkly like diamonds, too.” Many pieces in Taylor's newest collection, “Color Candy”®, show off the multi hues of sapphire, and the designer emphasizes that “sapphires are so much more affordable than diamonds”--making sapphire jewelry the perfect jewelry accessory for a woman to buy for herself this year, but not break the bank in doing so.
How much more affordable? “A top-quality pink sapphire costs less than one-fifteenth—yes, 1/15 th —than the cost of a pink diamond,” explains Jack Abraham, a supplier of gemstones to top designers, manufacturing companies, and retail jewelers.
Add to that, since a sapphire is so durable, it's the perfect stone for bracelets and rings—great for fashion's stackable bangles and bands, where you can layer on pieces in multi colors of sapphires to create different and individual looks. The gem is ranked 9 on the Moh's Scale of hardness, with only the diamond being harder with its 10 ranking. “Still,” Abraham adds, “because sapphires are denser, they're actually less brittle than diamonds. This combination of hardness and lack of brittleness makes your sapphire jewelry very easy to care for.”
. . . And the perfect choice as a center stone for an engagement ring. According to Niveet Nagpal of Omi Gems in New York City, who also supplies some of the finest gems in the world to the jewelry industry, “I'm seeing now more modern-thinking brides choosing sapphires for engagement rings.” And not just blue sapphire, a la Kate Middleton, the new Duchess of Cambridge. “Brides are showing more interest in yellow and pink sapphires, too. They're for a woman who wants something of great value but who also wants something special that shows her individuality.”
Creative Cuts for Individual Style
When talking about individuality, Nagpal says more people are asking for the out-of-the-ordinary fancy sapphire cuts, too. “For very expensive jewelry, traditional ovals, cushions, and rounds are still the most popular fancy sapphires but, over the last year, people want more fancy sapphires in rose-cuts, briolettes, slices, and rough cuts, too. The contemporary designers are using them more in their collections for a generally more organic and freeform look—less formal.”
Diana Widman is one of those designers. Her “Big Sky Collection” is based on non-uniform-shaped raw sapphires from Montana in a palette that mixes complementary combinations of shades of slate, teal, mauve, and sage. “Most people think sapphire is dark blue only,” she says, “so when a woman sees the wide array of colors, there's always that element of surprise. It's different and fun and definitely for the woman who wants something unusual, not what everyone else is wearing.”