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 worked on so many wedding ring repairs over the years, I have observed that though diamonds do chip, sapphires and rubies 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. Since diamonds can occasionally chip, but rarely scratch, they keep that shiny mirror finish on top.
When sapphire get scratched they lose the one aspect that gives sparkly beauty. Shiny reflective sparkle.
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 a great 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.
Judging a Book by its Cover – Or a White Sapphire
White sapphires, when used as an alternate to diamonds can give the impression that you have a very flawed and sad looking diamond.
People don’t expect a pink sapphire to sparkle like a diamond. Nor do they expect a blue sapphire to look like it’s got a little sun inside it. But when people see a clear gemstone in an engagement ring they expect fireworks like a diamond gives.
If they see your engagement ring with that pale, flat looking, cloudy white sapphire, whether interesting or not, they assume it is a diamond. Since they know what a nice diamond looks like, they’ll possibly think you got ripped off.
I’m talking about people judging a book or a diamond by its cover. You know your sweet cloudy looking white sapphire is a sapphire. And hopefully you knew when you chose it that is wouldn’t be sparkly like a diamond. But you can’t go around with a sign on your body that says, “It’s a white sapphire and it’s not supposed to blind you.”
Before you chose a white sapphire in place of a diamond, ask yourself, “Do I really want a diamond?” If so don’t get a white sapphire. Like those cute shoes that were only available in a half a size too small, you’ll notice them alright, and not in a good way, half way through the day.
If that white sapphire is taking the place of the diamond you can’t afford, it won’t be a happy substitution.
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,