White Sapphires vs Diamonds?
I could make a case for setting white sapphires in wedding and engagement rings. Then again, I could make a much stronger case for using diamonds.
Both white sapphires and diamonds are rare and valuable and each is steeped in rich history. They’re both great gems. However only of these gemstones is suitable for wedding rings.
White, Blue, & Yellow Sapphires—and Rubies: They’re All Corundums!
White sapphires are corundums—the same gem family as blue sapphires and rubies. That’s right! Chemically, they’re all aluminum oxides. It’s the different trace elements in each that give them their unique hue.
In fact, depending on those tiny amounts of other elements, corundums come in just about every color of the rainbow. Chromium gives rubies their red color. With blue sapphires, it’s iron and titanium. Pure corundum—white sapphire—without any trace elements, however, is colorless!
Diamonds and Sapphires; Hardness vs. Durability
Although diamonds are four times harder than sapphires, they’re not necessarily as chip resistant. It all has to do with their crystalline structure. Don’t worry, I’m not going to put you to sleep with the gory scientific details.
Sapphires can be scratched and abraded. With diamonds, this practically never happens. For this reason, diamonds rarely, if ever, require re-polishing.
Soap, water, and an old toothbrush used on an old diamond will usually make it look as good as new. (Note: the gold or platinum setting will still need to be professionally cleaned and polished to bring the whole ring back to its original shine.)
On the other hand, because of their crystalline structure, diamonds actually chip easier than sapphires. Some say sapphires are tougher. So don’t expect to see chips on sapphires. Do expect scratches.
In my personal experience of having done many wedding ring repairs over the years, I have observed that though diamonds do chip, sapphires are more prone to damage. They scratch and abrade easily. Sapphires end up needing a lot more repair with re-polishing and re-cutting topping the list.
This is yet another reason that I prefer diamond to white sapphire for a marriage gemstone choice.
Fire, Shine and Pizzazz; or Light Refraction
Refraction is the phenomenon of light entering a gemstone and bouncing back out.
Reflection is the phenomenon light bouncing off its surface.
Diamonds refract more light than white sapphires by far and therefore, show more fire, color, and brilliance. This is in great part the source of their value.
Diamonds are valued for their fire, shine, and pizzazz. Sapphires are valued for their color. Except, for white sapphires which have no color!
The best way to compare the two gems is to look at them side by side. Assuming they’re similarly sized and both of equal quality, the diamond will show more colors and the contrast between the internal facets will be more pronounced.
What Difference Does This Make? So White Sapphires Aren’t as Sparkly!
It makes a great deal of difference. Your wedding and engagement rings will be worn daily. That means they’ll get dirty.
You seriously will not be cleaning them daily. Diamonds with their superior refraction, glitter and sparkle wonderfully, even when they are dirty. I love that.
However white sapphires, when they get dirty, lose that little bit of refraction they had. They end up looking like a cloudy piece of glass. Or a really bad diamond.
The Bottom Line
If you want color in your engagement or wedding ring, by all means look at sapphires. They come in just about every color you can think of, they’re very durable, and they’re great for everyday wear. But if you really want a clear stone, get a diamond!
Your Personal Jeweler,