Gemstone Education Center

Royal Blue Sapphires: All About Cornflower & Ceylon Sapphires

Gemstones can be broken down into two main categories: precious gemstones and semi-precious gemstones. Only a select few gemstones make it into the former category and these include diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. The second two stones actually belong to the same family and are separated by color alone. Rubies are essentially red sapphires but have been given their very own name. In order to be categorized as a ruby a stone must display a certain level of redness. Otherwise it is known as a pink sapphire. This brings us to the hierarchy of sapphires. Like every gemstone, there is the most sought after varieties and the slightly less desirable types.

While all natural sapphires are exceptional and exquisite, there is no question that blue sapphires are the most well known and the most prestigious of all sapphires. Having said that, the blue color can range drastically from stone to stone, largely depending on the source of the gem. Certain regions produce darker and “inkier” blue sapphires whereas other locations around the globe are home to what are considered the ideal blue sapphire. These are of course the cornflower sapphire, also known as a Ceylon sapphire since it hails from what was once Ceylon and is now Sri Lanka. In order to be able to appreciate the rare attributes of cornflower and Ceylon sapphires it is important to understand a bit about sapphires in general and blue sapphires in particular.

1.31 carat, Blue, CEYLON Sapphire, Oval Shape, SKU 241941 


The Structure of a Sapphire

Sapphires are minerals. To be more specific they are a type of the mineral corundum. They contain aluminum oxide as well as chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, and titanium. Although the more unusual sapphire colors such as yellow, purple, green, and orange are referred to as “fancy sapphires” blue sapphires are still for the most part the go-to sapphire color, since that is what they are mainly known for. In terms of hardness, sapphires rank 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which is quite high. Diamonds come in at 10 and are thought of as the hardest substance on the planet. This makes sapphires highly desirable, as durability is an important factor for gemstones used in jewelry.


Origins of Sapphires

The main sources for sapphires are in Asia, but they appear on other continents as well. Australia mines sapphires, as do Columbia, Kenya, Thailand, Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, China, Nepal, Nigeria, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania as well as other countries. The quality and color of the sapphires vary in each location.


Cornflower Blue Sapphires

Some of the most valuable blue sapphires in the world are cornflower blue sapphires. Kashmir sapphires, from Kashmir (Burma) have been thought to be high quality with a very distinct rich hue. Though Kashmir sapphires have been found in a range of shades, the most desirable stones are those with a cornflower blue color. This shade of blue is dubbed “cornflower blue” because of the flower with the same name. Cornflowers are one of the only kinds of flowers that are completely blue, and not purple or violet. Sapphires with this hue are rare and highly sought after.


Various shapes and shades of Cornflower Blue Sapphires 

Assessing a Sapphire

Color is the most important element when it comes to assessing a sapphire. The color, shade, and color intensity level all contribute to the overall color quality of a sapphire. The clarity is significant as well. While sapphires generally have fewer inclusions than rubies, they often have some flaw. If the inclusions are too large,, they can affect the durability of the stone and reduce the value of the gem. Sapphires are cut differently than other gemstones. Depending on where the stone is from it will be cut accordingly in order to preserve as much of the color as possible. For instance, sapphires from Sri Lanka contain much of their color toward the surface of the stone. Lastly, carat sizes are mostly smaller than 5 carats due to the difficulty of locating quality sapphires. The larger the sapphire, the more likely it will be included. If it isn’t, it will have a very high price tag.


Various Shapes of Blue Sapphires

Every gemstone has shapes that are most suitable for the particular structure of the stone. The most common shapes for sapphires include cabochon, cushion, emerald, octagon, oval, radiant, and round. When searching for royal blue sapphires you might come across a cornflower blue cushion sapphire from Madagascar or round blue sapphires from Sri Lanka.


Oval Shape

Emerald Shape

Round Shape

Sapphires introduce a great deal of color into one’s gemstone collection, jewelry box, and wardrobe. This is only heightened when quality cornflower Ceylon sapphires are selected, as their beauty is undeniable.