Padparadscha sapphire is a ruby with a color change from orange to pink and blue. It is called “padparadscha” because it has a light orange or yellow base, then changes to bright pink, then changes into deep aqua shades that are the result of light refraction. Padparadscha was first discovered in Burma in the 1870s. They were called “padparadscha” because of the pink hues that were similar to the color of the lotus (Padma) flower found in India. The name padparadscha is now a marketing term for yellowish-orange sapphires that show a purplish-pink hue when fluorescent light is applied.
These stones are unique because the orange color is only seen in a few other – and very rare – gems. They also have a beautiful reddish-orange color which is attributed to a brilliant pink variety of sapphire, known as padparadscha.
The book ‘Gemstone Lore: A Guide to Gemstones’ by Ronald Singer says these stones “are usually found in large crystal clusters. It is not uncommon for these crystals to be entirely coated with high-quality transparent padparadscha. Many people do not realize that some of the finest sapphires on the market are actually of this gemstone.”
Historically, they have been highly valued in Thailand and Sri Lanka. The name padparadscha is derived from the Sinhalese ‘padmaraga’, meaning lotus blossom, and ‘pila’ meaning ‘color’.
The name “padparadscha” was given by a Raja of India in 1875 when he saw the incredible color of these gems. It is said that a Raja of Cochin, Kerala, was so enamored of the beautiful padparadscha sapphire that he formed his own mining company for its production; this was in 1912.
Padparadscha sapphires are translucent to semi-translucent and have a vitreous luster. They range in color from light pinkish-orange to a reddish-orange tone. An exceptional padparadscha will possess a fine, even tone within the stone, while impurities can cause the color to intermingle, creating a vibrant and dynamic hue.
These gems are unique in that they possess both corundum and oxide impurities. Corundum comprises two minerals: sapphire and ruby.
It is also an important part of the King’s Crown of Thailand. Sapphires are also believed to be an excellent gemstone for dissipating negative energy from the body.
Padparadscha sapphires are very rare. They are highly valued for their rarity, as well as for their exquisite beauty and brilliance. However, these stones have not been mined commercially since the mid-20th century due to lack of supply, and experts believe that there are only about 20 tons of them in the world today.
The color is delicate and soft, and inclusions may be visible. When cut properly, a padparadscha will show itself off to full advantage, depending on the skill of the cutter. This stone first appeared in Burma (Myanmar) in the late 19th century, after which time it was extremely rare for about 50 years. After that, the gem was found in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) and became very popular in the gem markets of Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Padparadscha sapphires are extremely rare and expensive, as with other pink sapphire varieties. The best-cut examples are clean and have a pyramidal shape. Padparadscha sapphires are usually cut with the same faceting pattern as a round brilliant, with a strong crown and pavilion.