Ceylon Sapphires: A Detailed Guide for Collectors and Enthusiasts

Ceylon Sapphires: A Detailed Guide for Collectors and Enthusiasts

Learn more about the rich history and exceptional quality of Ceylon sapphires
Learn more about the rich history and exceptional quality of Ceylon sapphires

Ceylon sapphires are renowned for their exquisite beauty and quality. Ceylon Sapphires also referred to as Sri Lankan Sapphires are among world's most vibrant sapphires. These are found in Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon. The magnificent sapphires found in this area of the world are celebrated for their rich blue hues and velvety silk appearance. The mysticism of sapphires has evolved for thousands of years. Today, many people believe in sapphires' power to focus and calm the mind, aid mental tension and depression, and encourage faithfulness and loyalty in partners. Ceylon sapphires are highly prized in the world of gemstones and are used in all forms of jewelry with Ceylon sapphire rings being the most popular jewelry piece.

The Geological Origin Of Ceylon Sapphires

22.90 Carat Ceylon Sapphire and Diamond Ring

For over 3,000 years Sri Lanka has been successfully mining sapphires. The region of Ratnapura is one of the richest areas in Sri Lanka for gemstones. It is often referred to as the "City of Gems”. The island nation is renowned for its diverse range of gemstones, including sapphires of various colors, but it is particularly famous for its blue sapphires. In Sri Lanka, Precambrian rocks are prevalent and form the geological foundation of the island. These rocks are primarily composed of ancient crystalline basement rocks such as granite, gneiss, and schist. The Precambrian rocks of Sri Lanka are of immense geological significance and have contributed to the island's rich mineral wealth. The island's unique geological conditions have contributed to the formation of exquisite sapphire gemstones for millions of years, making Sri Lanka one of the most important sources of sapphires in the world.

The Ceylon Sapphire Colors

Ceylon Sapphires come in a multitude of colors. The blue sapphires from Sri Lanka can vary in shades from light to dark blue, with some exhibiting a velvety or “cornflower blue” color that is highly prized. In addition to blue, Ceylon sapphires also occur in other colors such as pink, yellow, green, purple, and orange. In particular, pink sapphires from Sri Lanka are highly sought after for their delicate and romantic hue.

Royalty and Royal Blue Ceylon Sapphires

Royal Blue Ceylon Sapphire Ring 12.30 carats

Royal blue Ceylon sapphires are prized for the intensity of color as it is the richest-blue colored sapphire. Depending on how deep the blue is, the price will increase. A royal blue Ceylon sapphire can start at around $4,500 per carat and go up to around $15,500 per carat. The most famous royal blue Ceylon sapphire ring was gifted to Princess Diana upon getting engaged to Prince Charles in 1981. The 12-carat oval royal blue Ceylon sapphire was set in white gold with a halo of fourteen diamonds. The inspiration dates back to 1840, when Prince Albert had British jeweler Gerrard create a sapphire and diamond brooch for his future wife. Queen Victoria even wore the brooch as her something blue on her wedding day. The sapphire and diamond brooch remains a crown jewel and was worn by Queen Elizabeth on several occasions. Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in 2010 with his late mother's Ceylon sapphire ring. The Ceylon shapphire ring was valued at $60,000 in 1981 and today is estimated to be worth around $600,000.

Cornflower Blue Ceylon Sapphires

Angie Marei, Marei New York White Gold, 2.15ct Sapphire and Diamond Ayla Ring

Cornflower blue sapphires are a specific type of blue sapphires characterized by their vivid, medium to light blue color reminiscent of the delicate petals of a cornflower. This hue is highly prized in the world of gemstones for its purity and intensity. Cornflower blue sapphires typically exhibit a vibrant blue color with hints of violet or purple undertones. They are considered one of the most desirable shades of blue sapphire due to their striking appearance and rarity. The price of cornflower blue sapphire can start around $2,320 per carat and rise to over $6,000 per carat.

Colour Change Ceylon Sapphire

JAR Colour Change Sapphire Bracelet, 91.70 carats, Ceylon Sapphire

A colour change Ceylon sapphire is a rare variety that exhibits different colors under different lighting conditions. This phenomenon is due to the stone's ability to absorb and reflect light based on the light source. Trace amounts of chromium and vanadium in the crystal structure causes the color change. Sri Lanka is particularly known for producing high quality color change sapphires. The more pronounced and distinct the color change, the more valuable the sapphire. Sapphires with vivid color shifts are the most desirable by collectors. Sotheby's sold a 91.70 carat colour change Ceylon sapphire bracelet from JAR for 635,000 CHF or almost $700,000 in 2023.

Padparadscha Ceylon Sapphires

Padparadscha Sapphire and Ruby Ring

The Padparadscha (also known as Padmaraga) color is one of the rarest, most valuable and sought-after color for a Ceylon Sapphire. Padparadscha is a Sinhalese word that translates to “lotus color”. The Padparadscha sapphires typically exhibit a delicate blend of pink and orange tones, reminiscent of the color of a lotus flower. The most valuable Padparadscha sapphires exhibit a vivid and evenly distributed color with excellent clarity. These sapphires can start at around $1,000 per carat and go to around $6,000 per carat.

Star Ceylon Sapphires

Pink Star Sapphire Ring Set with a pink star sapphire weighing 40.84 carats, mounted in 18 karat yellow gold, size 10¼.

Star sapphires are a very unique and rare gemstone that features an embedded star. Inside these sapphires is an optical phenomenon known as asterism. An asterism is caused by microscopic needle-like inclusions. These inclusions are called “silk”. Inside of a ceylon sapphire, there can be a collection of these inclusions which create a start pattern where four, six, or twelve rays radiate from a central point. The most common star pattern is a six-rayed star. Sotheby's sold a 40.84 carat Pink Star Ceylon Sapphire Star ring for 762,000 HKD or approximately $99,000.

Natural Unheated Ceylon Sapphires

Sotheby's recommends Ceylon sapphires that use natural or untreated. Since untreated sapphires make up only 1% of the market, they are the rarest of the sapphires and more likely to retain or increase in value. While the practice of heating sapphires is industry standard for most stones, at Sotheby's we are focused on sourcing the rarest and highest quality Ceylon sapphires that exhibit their unique and natural qualities. Jewelry purchases are often a symbol of love or a celebration of an important milestone and we want your Ceylon sapphire to be extraordinary and collectible. While the price for a natural Ceylon sapphire can be about twice the price for the same size and quality heated sapphire, the demand for unheated sapphires relative to the small supply is also an important consideration. The desire for something truly rare and unique drives collectors and price stability over time.

Buying Ceylon Sapphire Jewelry

Natural Ceylon Sapphires are rare and highly collectible gemstones. Ceylon sapphire rings are the most popular jewelry choice for highlighting the beauty of a single sapphire. Since Princess Diana’s famous royal blue Ceylon sapphire engagement ring, sapphires have also become a very popular engagement ring choice. Sotheby's also sources stunning necklaces, earrings, bracelets and brooches featuring natural Ceylon sapphires. Prices for Ceylon sapphire jewelry ranges for $10,000 to $100,000+ depending on the size and quality of the sapphires, setting and provenance.

At Sotheby's, we have several ways to buy high-quality unheated Ceylon sapphire jewelry. We have jewelry auctions in New York, Geneva, Paris, and Hong Kong every year with a curated selection of Ceylon sapphire rings and other jewelry. Sotheby's also has a curated selection of high-quality unheated Ceylon sapphire jewelry available for immediate purchase through our marketplace. You can also contact a Salon Associate in New York or Bucherer in Zurich to learn more about Ceylon sapphire jewelry at Sotheby's. If you have Ceylon sapphire jewelry to sell, you can contact a Jewelry Specialist to learn more about your selling options.

Jewelry Buy Now The Luxury Sales

About the Author

More from Sotheby's

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

arrow Created with Sketch. Back To Top