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What is White Sapphire?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
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A white sapphire is a colorless form of sapphire used in a wide range of jewelry as a diamond substitute. Sapphires tend to be much less expensive than diamonds, and socially conscious purchasers who are concerned about conflict diamonds can avoid political issues by purchasing sapphires instead. Most white sapphires are heat treated to obtain the desired clear color, as it is very rare to find naturally occurring white sapphires. Some may also be chemically treated, depending on the quality of the stone and its intended use.

Sapphires are a type of aluminum oxide which forms in a crystalline pattern. There are numerous uses for sapphires, ranging from industrial lasers to fine jewelry, and the stones also come in a wide range of colors, despite the traditional association with the color blue. Sapphires also come in purple, yellow, and brown, and they may have unusual properties which cause them to reflect light in a star pattern or change color under certain lighting conditions.

There are two major sources for white sapphires. Grey to light yellow natural stones may be treated to become clear, and some companies also grow their own stones, creating synthetic sapphires which are chemically identical to the real thing. A synthetic white sapphire tends to be less expensive, because consumers perceive lab-grown gems as inferior, but it may sometimes be of better quality, thanks to the controlled growing conditions. Natural sapphires are found in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, parts of Africa, the Middle East, and in the Western states of America.

Like a diamond, a white sapphire can be cut and polished to be an extremely brilliant stone, refracting light in a bright and dynamic way. White sapphires are also extremely hard, making them almost as durable as diamonds. These two traits make white sapphires a popular diamond alternative, although sapphires may not have the same cultural value that diamonds do.

When selecting a white sapphire, look for many of the same traits that you do in a diamond. The stone should be cut in a flattering way which frees the brilliance in the stone to create a bright sparkle, and the stone should be truly clear, without clouds of any other color. If size is an issue for you, you should also look for a large carat white sapphire to ensure that your needs are met.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All The Science researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon316482 — On Jan 29, 2013

I have a white sapphire. I know is at least 50 years old and is 1.8ct or 37grams. I'm advertising it really cheap and now I'm starting to wonder if it's worth a lot more. I took it my jeweler and I don't think he really knows the value. How can I know for sure I'm not selling something worth a lot more?

By anon303685 — On Nov 15, 2012

I have recently bought several white sapphires. I have a naturally mined, white Ceylon sapphire, not treated, not heated, in a mixed cut, round, 6mm, naturally included stone for $270. I bought a 2 carat, round brilliant untreated/unheated white Ceylon sapphire, for about $900.00. Both of the above stones are naturally included, but eye clean and come with IGI lab certificates.

Next, I bought a 6.5mm (over a carat) diamond like round, heat treated, white Ceylon Sapphire for about $570.00. It is heat treated so it is super "clean" looking.

Finally, early on, I bought a 6mm white sapphire (about a carat) that was supposed to be heat treated, from Ceylon, but it turned out to be a synthetic sapphire,for $100. My experience has been the jewelry store people do not know squat about white sapphires. My most trusted sources were Harshil Zaveri, from Harshil Jewelers, in India, and Marc Sarosi, at African Gems.

By MrsPramm — On Nov 06, 2012

@croydon: You'd think the ability to create stones from scratch would make a difference but it hasn't, mostly because of clever advertising. It was only recently that diamonds became the "traditional" gemstone for engagement rings, for example.

Personally, I'd rather have something like a vintage engagement ring that has a history, or something that had personal meaning.

By croydon — On Nov 05, 2012

It's definitely a good idea to get a white sapphire instead of a diamond, if you must have a gemstone at all. The monopoly on diamonds has led them to be completely overpriced, to the point where it's ridiculous.

Diamonds are actually much more common than stones like sapphires, but because one company owns most of them, they can release them in small amounts and charge whatever they like.

The only way to change this is to stop thinking that diamonds are something special. They are only expensive and worth fighting over because we say they are, and for no other reason.

By anon294071 — On Sep 29, 2012

Why has my white sapphire which I purchased in Sri Lanka gone black?

By anon293439 — On Sep 25, 2012

If it is brilliant, about $1000 a carat.

By anon173417 — On May 07, 2011

The average price of white sapphire is about 20k-25k

Hope it helped!

By anon172067 — On May 02, 2011

I've been to four gemologists (certified) and they don't give me a straight answer on my ring. How does one find out for sure what a stone is? One person told me one of the stones in my ring had to be destroyed (or would be) if it was tested. It is not a diamond; it looks gorgeous under a giant microscope.

By anon152707 — On Feb 14, 2011

My boyfriend got me a beautiful sterling silver ring with white sapphires because I won't allow him to spend a lot on material objects that do not have something to do with surviving. They are beautiful and I was curious about their origins and was very happy to know that I can feel good about where they came from.

When it comes to an engagement ring, I'll ask for white sapphire instead of a diamond to be sure that they we don't add to the whole blood diamond franchise.

He is also very conscious of such problems, so I'm sure he wouldn't feel bad about getting me a diamond. He always wants me to have the best, but not at the cost of the suffering of others. And there's the fact that I would be upset if he spent loads of money on something so materialistic.

I know that an engagement ring and wedding band are symbolic of timeless love and such. As wonderful as that is, it doesn't seem worth it to buy blood diamonds.

By anon110125 — On Sep 10, 2010

I have a white sapphire that is 100 years old. it is one carat. is there any value?

By anon109386 — On Sep 07, 2010

White sapphires are all color treated/ lab created. They are beautiful stones, and make girls just as happy. Best part is, they are pennies apiece. solid ~1ct equivalent shouldn't cost any more than $15-20.

By Fiorite — On Jul 13, 2010

@ Anon44379- It is hard to say what the average price of any gem would be. It all depends on the cut, color, clarity, carat weight, and supply and demand. Other criteria also affect the price of gems, but the five I listed are the main forces that drive price. This is the reason that the large gem grading laboratories never appraise the gems they grade. Too many variables change with time to give a definitive price.

You should do as much research as you can before buying any gems. Talk to different jewelers even before you are ready to buy. There are also online forums where professional jewelers and gemologists will give unbiased advice.

By anon44379 — On Sep 07, 2009

What is the average price of a white sapphire on a per carat basis?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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