There's no reason to stick to just blue sapphires anymore, as Archana Achal discovers the hue-filled world of fancy coloured sapphires

Rubies are red, emeralds are green and sapphires are blue. This is what we all think of when we talk about coloured gemstones. But there is more to the sapphire than meets the eye. This jewel sprung back into the spotlight when it was seen adorning the engagement ring of one young royal, sparking off a frenzy of copies and kitschy remodels in the process. Blue sapphires, be it of the deep Kashmir blue, the subtle Ceylonese hue or the intense Burmese shade are appealing to the eye and calming on the mind as well. They even sparkle well when placed adjoining clear diamonds, enhancing the shine of the diamonds. But the season to be blue is over now, and sapphires in a variety of colours are taking centre stage. Sapphires in colours other than blue like those in yellow, green and pink are called fancy colour sapphires or simply fancy sapphires, to differentiate them from their more famous counterpart.

Stylish science

For all of you who love science, here's a fun fact. Rubies and sapphires are in reality the same mineral compound called corundum. It's the presence of other trace minerals, actually seen as impurities, in corundum that give it a number of hues. When chromium is present in the corundum, it gives the mineral a red tinge and this red gem is then called a ruby. Some confusion does arise when differentiating between rubies and lighter red and pink fancy sapphires, but the general consensus is that almost all red corundum stones are considered rubies while those that are clearly pink will be called pink sapphires.

With excellent hardness (making it useful even in the production of sapphire crystal for watches), durability and minimal maintenance, sapphires are loved by many.

The rich shades of fancy colour sapphires only add to the reasons to adore these shining beauties.

Value addition

Sunflower yellow, jungle green, hot pink and passionate purple are the colours of just a few of the possible fancy sapphires available today. The value of gemstones in general is determined by hue, tone and saturation. The hue is the colour, the saturation is its brightness and the tone is determined by its position in the spectrum of lightness to darkness. So while picking a fancy colour sapphire, the choices are endless. These sapphires are never just of one single hue, as each yellow, green or pink sapphire will have undertones of other colours that add different dimensions to its tone. But bear in mind that the closer a sapphire gets to being single shade, the more valuable it is regarded to be. If it is a light green, pink or yellow, its clarity is looked in to as inclusions can be spotted easier in these shades. Fancy sapphires of a deep hue create impact from their colour alone and the cut is more important here to create as much sparkle as possible.

Picky, picky!

Fancy colour sapphires are perfect in jewels as they can be set to match any outfit and occasion. Vivid orange sapphires, which come with undertones of yellow or red can add a touch of luxury to your daywear while a white gold piece set with the rarer purple sapphire can jazz up an evening dress. Pink sapphires are definitely a gem for the bold of heart as they usually range from hues of magenta to fuschia bordering on neon! They will be all the colour you will need. Luxury brand De Grisogono has some pretty in pink pieces, from softer shades with violet undertones to intense pinks bordering on ruby red.

If you like a mix of fancy colour sapphires, pick up a pair of earrings or a ring from Zoya, whose pieces have pink, yellow and green sapphires mingling freely. Piaget's Limelight and Limelight Garden ranges have cocktail rings set with fancy sapphires that are sure to make you swoon. Plump purple sapphires sit pretty with watermelon pink stunners, shrouded in rare, mint green sapphires.

White sapphires are sometimes seen as alternatives to diamonds and they are beautiful in their clarity and can be opted for without a doubt. Yellow sapphires are aplenty, ranging from lemon yellow to subdued pastels and the former prized above the latter.

Any fancy sapphire can give coloured diamonds a run for their money, as they can add a lot of sparkle with depth from the undertones.

They are mined from various regions like Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Thailand and Australia and are rare to find. So step away from the blue and head towards the colourful side!