Black sapphires sound mysterious and dramatic, and they’re not often see in jewelry. If you’re interested in black sapphires, then this guide will help you understand them, their general use in jewelry, and whether you have any other alternatives to black sapphire.
What is the meaning of black sapphire ?
Black sapphires take the original meaning of a blue sapphire – loyalty, wisdom, hope, serenity – and reflect it inwards, since they are in fact just very dark blue sapphires. Black sapphires focus those positive energies on you, allowing you to center yourself. For this reason wearing black sapphire in your personal jewelry collection is a constant reminder to help yourself and look after yourself first and foremost.
What makes black sapphire so dark ?
Black sapphires are still blue, but a very, very dark shade of inky blue. Their darkness comes from an overabundance of iron and titanium in the base corundum. All sapphires are a form of corundum, which is normally clear/colorless, and other elements impart color onto the corundum.
For blue sapphires, iron and titanium make a blue color. But too much iron and titanium will make an overly saturated, nearly opaque, dark blue. Conversely, too little iron and titanium will make a very washed out, gray sapphire.
A very well faceted black sapphire will reveal that it is not truly black, but inky dark blue, or midnight blue. You can see small flashes of blue inside these stones when they are very well faceted.
It’s still called black sapphire instead of dark blue or midnight to avoid confusion with regular blue sapphire. But we do have to admit midnight sapphire would be a very cool name.
Some black sapphire have a star or asterism
Not all black sapphires do this, but some of them have a very specific formation of thin, delicate rutile needles within their body, and when the light hits this type of sapphire the rutile shows a cross. It’s not a religious cross, but rather more like a starfish or a starburst, with anywhere from 4 to 6 arms.
In a true star black sapphire you will see this cross or star move with the light, like like a moonstone’s glow moves with the light. The star is anywhere form silvery to light gold, depending on the exact rutile inclusions, the sapphire’s body color, and how opaque it is. These sapphires always look best in a cabochon cut, to make the stat formation visible from any angle.
Read also: What Are Filigree Rings ?
How much is a 2 carat black sapphire ?
Black sapphires are considered very cheap gemstones since they don’t exhibit the cornflower blue expected of blue sapphires. So you can find 2 carat black sapphires for as little as $30 a piece, at $15 per carat. Black sapphires that show a bit of blue will be worth more. This is simply the way sapphires work.
But, it does mean that getting a black sapphire for your jewelry is going to be very affordable. You can find most black sapphires at gemstone conventions, but most jewelers won’t carry them since the demand is too little. Another option is to buy tumbled black sapphire and take it to a lapidary to be cut in the exact shape and cut you want.
Can you wear black sapphire every day ?
Yes, black sapphires can be worn every day since they are a very tough gemstone. Black sapphires score a 9/10 on the Mohs scale, just under moissanite and diamond. This means the only things that may scratch or chip your sapphire are another sapphire, a moissanite, or a diamond.
This, coupled with the lower price for black sapphire mean you could easily replace your stone if it ever breaks, and you can confidently wear a whole bracelet made of black sapphire without fear of breaking it.
What’s the best cut for black sapphire ?
So your black sapphire is pretty opaque, but you want to brighten it it just a little. Some of the best cut styles for this is the checkerboard cut and the Portuguese cut.
The checkerboard cut has the table and crown of your gemstone in a checkerboard pattern, with the pavilion in any style you want. The best versions have a checkerboard pavilion too.
The Portuguese cut is every similar to a brilliant cut, but has extra rows of curving facets on the crown and pavilion. They look very similar to how water looks like when you turn on the faucet and it looks like a braided rope.
Both the checkerboard and the Portuguese cut are perfect for brightening a dark gemstone. Please keep in mind that not all black sapphires will brighten. Sometimes they are just too opaque and you won’t get a blue flash no matter how you cut them. In these cases it’s best to go with a faceting style that will look nice on the outside or as a shape, rather than one that is meant to brighten.
Black sapphire alternative gemstones
What if you can’t get black sapphire ? Or what if you’re not entirely convinced you want to settle on black sapphire, maybe you want to try something else instead. There are a few alternatives you can try, and some may be easier to find than black sapphire. Here are some of them.
Dark blue spinel
Spinel has been confused for sapphires and rubies since forever, as they look incredibly similar and their blue or red gems are extraordinarily similar to rubies and blue sapphires. So much so that the Black Prince’s Ruby, present on the Imperial state crown of England, was regarded as a very beautiful ruby for several decades, until rubies and spinel were better understood.
So, you can get blue spinel and just like you can find very dark sapphires, you can find very dark spinel. Spinels score an 8 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, and this still allows everyday wear. You may have to be a bit careful with the spinel since it’s a bit soft, but as long as you don’t wear it in a bracelet or eternity ring it should hold up fine for several years before needing a re-polish.
Dark blue tourmaline
Tourmaline is perhaps one of the most accessible gemstones on the market, and it comes in pretty much every color. One of these colors is blue, and just like there is black tourmaline there also is dark blue tourmaline. It’s just that the most common tourmaline colors carried by jewelers are black, pink, and green tourmaline. So you will have to search quite a bit for your gemstone.
This gem scores a 7 on the Mohs scale, which is just barely safe enough to wear every day. It may still chip or crack, so it’s best not to wear it in a ring or bracelet. A pendant or a pair of earrings is much safer with this gem.
Iolite is one of the best known blue sapphire alternatives. It has a slightly purplish color instead of blue, but it’s still very beautiful. And, you can find dark iolite ! So if you’re on the lookout for black sapphire and can’t find any, then dark iolite will look dark enough (midnight blue) to pass for black sapphire in terms of color. Like tourmaline, iolite score a 7 on the Mohs scale so it’s best to keep it safe in a pendant or in some earrings.
Onyx is one of the most common black gemstones on the market, and it’s both affordable and easy to find. if you intend to use it in place of black sapphire, you should know that onyx is 100% opaque and no cut style or method will brighten it. But it does look very beautiful when carved or just faceted with something more intricate.
Onyx is one of the softer gemstones, scoring a 6.5 on the Mohs scale. This means it may chip and scratch but it can be quite easily replaced if you ever need to.
I’m the main author for jewelrymaterialguide.com. I started this site after we did tons of research before our wedding and noticed that there is information about rings, jewelry, and so on that is really hard to find on the internet.