Fancy colored sapphires are popular across the board, but if you had to cast a vote for the season’s most popular hue, it would be lemony yellow, with purple and green not far behind—though even white sapphires are enjoying steady demand as a substitute for diamonds.
“Consumers want colorful standout jewelry that could transform ordinary attire into something extraordinary,” says Michael Hezar, CEO of Los Angeles–based Michael John Jewelry.
Daniel Gibbings of Daniel Gibbings Jewelry in Montecito, Calif., agrees that sapphires are a perennial client favorite. “For centuries, sapphire was known as the gem of the soul, symbolizing trust and honesty and that brings a story and romance to each design,” Gibbings says.
Meanwhile, Nayana Hettiarachchi, manager at Renelle Pvt. Ltd. in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which specializes in designs for the U.S. market, says demand for green and orange sapphires has spiked in 2013.
Even Lili Diamonds, a diamond manufacturer in Israel, has incorporated colorful sapphires in patented cuts to cater to U.S. demand. Joe Lee, production manager at Lili’s Hong Kong facility, says that in addition to blue, the Mardi Gras triumvirate of purple, yellow, and green are favorites.
18k white gold earrings with 1.22 cts. t.w. diamonds and 27.96 cts. t.w. padparadscha sapphires; $28,950; Michael John Jewelry, Los Angeles; 800-404-8633; michaeljohnjewelry.com
Dealers in Sri Lanka, aka sapphire central, are upbeat about the requests for color. André Tissera, CEO of Sapphirus Lanka Pvt. Ltd. in Colombo, says U.S. customers are seeking gems with a more bluish purple hue. Demand is for 6 mm (or 1 ct. sizes) and up, with wholesale per-carat prices starting at $100. Paris jewelers also are using a lot of purple in sizes from 2 mm and up, Tissera says.
A connoisseur favorite in the United States is padparadscha, or orange pink, sapphires. Rainier Nanayakkara, managing director of Ellawala Exports Pvt. Ltd. in Colombo, says that larger sizes from 10 cts. and up are doing very well. But buyers should note that the rare sunset-colored stones are among the gem world’s priciest: Wholesale prices range from $10,000 to $20,000 per carat.