Purple sapphires

The tones of purple sapphires range from delicate lilac and lavender to deep purple and beyond. At Metal Urges, Master Jeweller Chris Hood has travelled extensively through Sri Lanka to bring these precious hues back to Hobart. Purple sapphires are most commonly found in Sri Lanka and its Ratnapura and Beruwala regions, where Chris has spent considerable time selecting his purple range.

Chris also heads to southern Madagascar where purple sapphires are plentiful. It’s important to get purple sapphires direct from the source, as they can often be heat treated and the colour changed. From deep vertical mine shafts, the potential stones are carried manually to a river where they are washed. Sapphire is very heavy, so falls to the bottom of the sieve. It’s here by the riverbed that Chris will find his purple sapphires, untreated and beautiful.

Gemstone type

Purple sapphires are often under-appreciated, and are far more rare than initially recognised. What makes them particularly special is that they do not need to be heat treated to obtain their best colour. What’s more, many are naturally able to change colour in different lighting.

Purple sapphires are part of the corundum group. Gemstones in this group are highly regarded for their hardness. At 9 on the Mohs scale, only diamond and moissanite are harder. This means that owning a purple sapphire doesn’t require additional care and your stone will retain its beauty throughout the years.

How we source purple sapphires

Chris spends several months a year travelling across the globe, to some of the most remote and often precarious locations to source his sapphires. Chris has sourced most of his purple sapphire from Sri Lanka and Madagascar. It is here that he finds the gorgeous light purples through to deep, darker tones.

In Tanzania and in some other locations, Chris has found purple stones that fluoresce beautifully in firelight. They become much redder, yet in daylight these very same stones change to a green/blue hue. These colour changes are highly sought after and Chris is particularly passionate about hunting down purples that change from “intense red purple to blue purple – they are just beautiful”.

On every trip, Chris is mindful of working ethically when sourcing purple sapphires. He is committed to leaving every local community a little better off - Metal Urges’ appreciation is shown through donating to education, working closely with locals and injecting funds directly into the local mining communities.

Gauging value

It’s important to know how to identify purple sapphires and ascertain value. Metal Urges has an impressive range in Hobart. Let’s take a look at how colour, clarity, cut and size affect value.

Purple sapphire colour

We are fortunate to currently have a wide range of purple sapphires. What makes the Metal Urges collection special is that we have a number of colour-changing ‘chameleons’. These are purple sapphires that change colour in different lighting.

When it comes to colour, typically the more intense it is (with fewer distracting zones of other colours) the more valuable a stone is. Purple sapphires have anything from weak to vivid colour saturation.

Rarely will you find internally clean sapphires, therefore even expensive stones can have slight inclusions. Highly saturated medium or darker purple gemstones are considered best, and of course the colour-change purple sapphires are highly revered.

Purple sapphire clarity

It is much rarer to find a purple sapphire with high clarity, therefore this adds considerable value. Usually these sapphires have some inclusions, whether it be needles (long thin mineral inclusions), healed fractures or colour banding. In some instances, inclusions can increase a purple sapphire’s value, where in other cases the durability is compromised. Metal Urges can talk you through any inclusions and what they mean for a particular stone.

Purple sapphire cut

The cut of each purple sapphire at Metal Urges is influenced by the shape of the rough sapphire crystal and how best to take advantage of this to highlight its features. We keep in mind maximum weight, good proportions and the overall colour when choosing the cut.

Purple sapphires are often faceted and cut in the round brilliant shape, but there are plenty of other options; including square, emerald cut, oval and pear shaped cuts. The most typical crystal form is a barrel or spindle-shaped hexagonal pyramid.

Purple sapphire weight

Size does matter when it comes to purple sapphires! These stones can range from hundreds of carats to just a few points, but high-quality stones in larger sizes are rarer these days. Most gem grade sapphires you’ll find weigh below 5.00 carats.

Purple sapphire symbolism

Purple sapphires are considered to bring wisdom of spiritual awakening. Purple is associated with calming and focusing the mind. Those who enjoy studying human nature are often drawn to purple sapphires, such as philosophers or artists. Nobility, class and mystery are associated with this colour that Chris finds to be luscious and regal.