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The Exotics: Padparadscha sapphire

Padparadscha sapphire is a rare member of the Corundum family, coveted for its fusion of orange and pink. Its exotic, expensive and elusive nature has led to countless imitations propagated by those keen to cash in on the famous Padparadscha name.
Image courtesy: Greg Grace
Image courtesy: Greg Grace

The pretty Padparadscha gemstone was first discovered in Sri Lanka and named after the Singhalese word “Padmaraga”, meaning lotus blossom, a species of flower that was originally a soft pastel orangey-pink. Later sources of Padparadscha sapphire include Madagascar and Tanzania; however, purists believe the “true” material to be of Sri Lankan origin.

Coloured by the trace elements chromium and iron, Padparadscha sapphire possesses various attractive attributes besides its obvious beauty. It has a high hardness – nine on Mohs scale – and excellent durability that make it a popular choice for everyday wear. Also, it can withstand the heat generated by standard jewellery repair processes.

In 2007, the Laboratory Manual Harmonisation Committee (LMHC), of whom the Gemmological Association of Australia (GAA) is an affiliate, standardised the nomenclature used to describe Padparadscha sapphire, which was later updated in 2011: “Padparadscha sapphire is a variety of corundum from any geographical origin whose colour is a subtle mixture of pinkish orange to orangey-pink with pastel tones and low to medium saturations when viewed in standard daylight.”

The description excludes modifiers other than pink or orange. In addition, the overall colour must be free of major, uneven colour distribution when viewed with the unaided eye and the table up to +/- 30 degrees, and should not have any yellow or orange epigenetic material affecting the overall colour of the stone.

While most dealers and collectors agree this gemstone should display a blend of pink and orange, it’s interesting to note that the exact ratio, tone and saturation are open to interpretation, as are the presence of secondary tones such as brown, yellow and red.


The pretty Padparadscha gemstone was first discovered in Sri Lanka and named after the Singhalese word “Padmaraga”, meaning lotus blossom, a species of flower that was originally a soft pastel orangey-pink. Later sources of Padparadscha sapphire include Madagascar and Tanzania; however, purists believe the “true” material to be of Sri Lankan origin.

Coloured by the trace elements chromium and iron, Padparadscha sapphire possesses various attractive attributes besides its obvious beauty. It has a high hardness – nine on Mohs scale – and excellent durability that make it a popular choice for everyday wear. Also, it can withstand the heat generated by standard jewellery repair processes.

In 2007, the Laboratory Manual Harmonisation Committee (LMHC), of whom the Gemmological Association of Australia (GAA) is an affiliate, standardised the nomenclature used to describe Padparadscha sapphire, which was later updated in 2011: “Padparadscha sapphire is a variety of corundum from any geographical origin whose colour is a subtle mixture of pinkish orange to orangey-pink with pastel tones and low to medium saturations when viewed in standard daylight.”

The description excludes modifiers other than pink or orange. In addition, the overall colour must be free of major, uneven colour distribution when viewed with the unaided eye and the table up to +/- 30 degrees, and should not have any yellow or orange epigenetic material affecting the overall colour of the stone.

While most dealers and collectors agree this gemstone should display a blend of pink and orange, it’s interesting to note that the exact ratio, tone and saturation are open to interpretation, as are the presence of secondary tones such as brown, yellow and red.

The LMHC Padparadscha definition excludes any treatment, except for traditional heat, which is used to dissolve silk and improve clarity.

According to The World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO), only untreated and heat-treated Padparadscha sapphire qualify for the prestigious title of Padparadscha.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Megan Austin

Megan Austin FGAA FGA Dip DT BA, is a gemmologist and registered valuer. She operates Megan Austin Valuations.
Visit: meganaustinvaluations.com.au.

Independent Jewellers Collective (IJC)
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Sunday, 12 July, 2020 01:15am
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