Sapphires are inarguably most well-known for possessing a potent, peacock blue hue, but it's by no means the only colour available within this diverse family of gemstone. One of its most striking variations may actually be its most rare: the Padparadscha sapphire. This is one of the most highly sought after sapphires that almost all fine gem collectors will appreciate.
The vast majority of Padparadscha has been mined in Sri Lanka, with its name taken from the Sinhalese word for "aquatic lotus blossom". Like that flower, the Padparadscha sapphire's colour saturation floats between light pink and light orange. Some would compare Padparadscha to having an overall salmon-colour, though these stones tend not to be evenly coloured, often with certain zones of the gem taking on more pink properties than orange, and vice versa.
Like many gems, clarity is key when grading Padparadscha. Stones that appear eye-clean, with little to no inclusions, will be more valuable. And because of the pastel shade of a Padparadscha sapphire, flaws can make the gems appear cloudier than other forms of sapphire. That said, being that true Padparadscha colour is so rare, it may be hard to track down one that is flawless or perfectly clear.
While it's true that, traditionally, Sri Lanka has provided the world with the most Padparadscha, more recent deposits in Madagascar and Tanzania have shifted the marketplace. There are slight saturation differences between the stones regions, though, with Madagascar-derived Padparadscha taking on more pink than orange. Similar sapphires from Tanzania’s Umba Valley region, meanwhile, refract more orange, and even shades of brown. For these reasons, the richer pink-and-orange saturation of the Sri Lankan gems are heralded as "true Padparadscha," and are valued much higher than their counterparts.
No matter their origin, the scarcity of these sapphires, especially if found over two carats, means that buyers will be paying for Padparadscha at a premium—with price points not uncommon to the finest blue sapphire. Whether rough cut or heat-treated, the highest-quality of Padparadscha could potentially yield tens of thousand dollars per carat and up.