Rubies and sapphires (of all colors) that have identical clarities and weights are attributed different prices because of their color-bracket classification. These differences can seem confusing, especially after a gemstones’ weight is factored in. Going from the most expensive to the least, corundum’s “value by color” order is as follows:
Although jockeying for first place with padparadsha sapphires, ruby is usually thought of as the most expensive member of the corundum family. This red variety of corundum can be worth thousands of dollars per carat, in light of the fact that prices increase sharply as carat weights exceed the three-carat mark.
Taking their name from the Ceylonese lotus flower, Padparadsha Sapphires show pink, purple and orange colors in one gemstone. Both rare and beautiful, they are highly prized and regarded as the most valuable type of sapphire. Similar to rubies, prices can reach many thousands of dollars per carat for the best specimens.
Outside of the rare and collectable padparadsha, blue sapphire is often thought of as the most coveted and expensive type of sapphire. Its reputation amongst the general public is unrivaled. Its attractive blue colors easily match the beauty of ruby, but at better value.
Considered the fancy sapphire favorite, medium pink sapphires are priced lower than Blue Sapphires. Since pink sapphire shares an ambiguous color boundary with ruby, “hot pinks” are priced at a premium similar to that of ruby.
Yellow Sapphires mark the start of color brackets where consumers can obtain big and beautiful sapphires at surprising prices. Frequently found in large crystal sizes displaying beautiful lemon yellow colors (especially when of a Ceylonese variety), IJ believes that yellow sapphires offer the best value of the entire corundum family.
While considered a close second to yellow sapphires, those purple sapphires that lean towards a rubytype appearance break the rules. At their best, purple sapphires exhibit rich purple-pink colors that are free from brownish overtones.
Green sapphires are the bargain gemstones of the sapphire family. Offering the best prices, their wine-bottle to olive-like greens are often under-appreciated. As a result, they offer outstanding value.
The graph below reflects a comparative-pricing scale for corundum’s different color brackets. Please note it is a graph of relative pricing within corundum’s color-brackets and is not to be viewed as a price list.
When reviewing the graph, it must be remembered that when comparing two corundum gems of the same color, the pricing laws of that single color alone are applied—what may seem as a very small color difference in two sapphires, may actually translate to a substantial difference in value.
All things being equal, this comparative-pricing scale should give you a good appreciation of where values lie within the rainbow of the ruby-sapphire family.