Padparadscha Sapphire: Lotus Flower Sapphire

The Padparadscha sapphire, a gemstone with a mesmerizing dance of pink and orange hues, has captivated hearts and ignited curiosity for centuries. Padparadscha sapphire is a rare pink-orange to orange-pink corundum gemstone, a mineral of the same chemical composition as ruby. The name "padparadscha" is derived from the Sinhalese word for "lotus blossom", referring to the color of the flower. Padparadscha sapphires are typically found in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Tanzania.

Padparadscha sapphires are prized for their unique color, which is caused by a combination of chromium and iron impurities. The color should be evenly distributed throughout the stone, with no zoning or color banding. Padparadscha sapphires should also be free of visible blemishes, such as inclusions and fractures.

Padparadscha Sapphire
Natural rough Padparadscha sapphire, Sri Lanka
Photo:
Danugroup.lk

Where are Padparadscha sapphires found

Sri Lanka has historically been the premier source of Padparadscha sapphires, particularly the Ratnapura district. However, Madagascar has emerged as a significant source in recent decades, with stones often displaying a slightly pinker hue. Other potential sources include Tanzania, Vietnam, and Thailand, although the quality and quantity from these regions are generally lower.

Padparadscha sapphires Color

Padparadscha color arises from the selective absorption of specific light wavelengths by chromic (Cr³⁺) and ferric (Fe²⁺, Fe³⁺) ions embedded within the corundum crystal lattice. Cr³⁺ absorbs primarily in the blue and green regions, leaving a transmission window for orange and pink wavelengths, contributing to the gemstone's characteristic hue. Fe²⁺ and Fe³⁺ further refine the transmitted light by absorbing additional blue and yellow wavelengths, fine-tuning the color balance and preventing an overly saturated pink. The precise ratio and intricate distribution of these ions within the lattice, along with the gemstone's interaction with light, determine the final Padparadscha color, characterized by a harmonious blend of orange and pink with subtle variations due to lattice structure and cut. This delicate interplay of ions and light contributes to the rarity and value of these captivating gems.

Padparadscha Sapphire Properties

Composition: Primarily corundum (α-Al₂O₃), with trace amounts of chromium (Cr³⁺) and iron (Fe²⁺, Fe³⁺) contributing to its unique color.

Color: A delicate blend of orange and pinkish-orange, resembling the hue of a lotus flower at dusk. Color intensity and distribution vary, adding to the stone's individuality.

Luster: Vitreous, exhibiting a brilliant glassy shine that amplifies its captivating color play.

Crystal System: Trigonal (hexagonal lattice)

Streak: White (common to corundum)

Hardness: 9 on the Mohs scale, second only to diamond, making it highly resistant to scratching.

Cleavage: Distinct basal parting (tendency to split along specific planes), requiring careful cutting and handling.

Crystal Form: Prismatic crystals with hexagonal cross-sections, though gem-quality stones are typically cut and polished.

Density: Around 3.9–4.1 g/cm³, denser than most other gemstones.

Transparency: Usually transparent, allowing light to pass through and illuminate the stone's inner beauty.

Fracture: Conchoidal (uneven, shell-like) fracture pattern is present but uncommon in gem-quality stones.

Specific Gravity: Around 3.99–4.10, slightly higher than its density due to air displacement.

Solubility: Insoluble in common acids and solvents, making it highly durable and resistant to environmental degradation.

Magnetism: Non-magnetic, displaying no attraction to magnets.

Fluorescence: Often exhibits weak to moderate fluorescence in longwave ultraviolet light, with colors like orange, red, or pink, enhancing its vibrancy under certain lighting conditions.

Pleochroism: Moderate to strong pleochroism, meaning the color slightly changes depending on the viewing angle, adding depth and complexity to the stone's appearance.

Refractive Index: Around 1.760–1.770, indicating the degree of bending light within the stone, contributing to its brilliance and sparkle.

Inclusions: Gem-quality padparadscha sapphires are typically eye-clean, free of visible inclusions. However, minute rutile needles or silk inclusions may be present in some stones, adding a subtle chatoyancy (shimmering effect) in certain light conditions.

 

Rough and cut Padparadscha Sapphire
Rough and cut Padparadscha Sapphire

What makes a Padparadscha sapphire valuable

The rarity and exquisite color combination of Padparadscha sapphires contribute significantly to their value. Gem-quality stones are typically free of inclusions, exhibit high clarity, and possess a harmonious balance of pink and orange hues. The cut and brilliance of the stone further impact its worth.

Facts about padparadscha sapphires

  • They are the rarest type of sapphire.
  • They are often referred to as "the sunset sapphire."
  • They are said to bring good luck and prosperity. 

Conclusion

Padparadscha Sapphires hold a special allure and fascination among gemstone enthusiasts and collectors, admired for their unparalleled beauty and rarity. Whether worn as a stunning piece of jewelry or cherished as a prized addition to a gemstone collection, Padparadscha Sapphires continue to captivate with their timeless elegance and charm.

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