Creativity of Nature- Padparadscha Sapphire
By Raunak Agarwal
Gemologist and Gemology Instructor, SDI
The rarest and most valuable colour in sapphire is called Padparadacha. The name, as esoteric as the colour is elusive, is said to derive from the Sinhalese term for lotus flower.
Experts sometimes disagree on the exact colour for Padparadscha. Walter Schumann, whose book Gemstones of the World is virtually a bible for the gem trade, characterise Padparadscha sapphire as "pinkish orange".
|Rough of Padparadscha|
Since Padparadscha comes from the term for lotus flower, couldn't we define the colour by looking at the lotus flower? That would be fine, except lotus flowers come in red, pink, blue, white and pale yellow. In Buddhism the pink lotus is regarded as the 'supreme lotus,' and the lotus associated with the historical Buddha. So maybe we should be looking at a pink lotus.
If we look at a pink lotus, the flower is decidedly pink. There is really no orange at all, except for the stamens and the seed cup (which is more yellow than orange). So it doesn't look like nature will help us define the color of Padparadscha.
The best consensus we've found from our reading of the gemological literature is that a Padparadscha sapphire must display both orange and pink hues with a pastel tone. There is no agreement on whether orange or pink should predominate. We've looked at hundreds of photos of alleged Padparadschas, and many look entirely pink or entirely orange to us.
Natural unheated Padparadscha sapphires are so rare that they can be as valuable as diamond. You will rarely find them anywhere. More common are pink or orange sapphires that have been treated with beryllium to look something like the Padparadscha colour. Usually the color is too saturated or the tone is too dark to look like a genuine Padparadscha.
|Padparadscha Set in Jewellery|
If you really love the Padparadscha-like colour, but out of your budget then it may be easier to find it in tourmaline than in sapphire. Many pink tourmaline have a delicate touch of orange and yellow, with the right pastel tone to meet the Padparadscha requirement.