What are Parti Sapphires

What are Parti Sapphires

When it comes to colourful gemstones, sapphires are among the most prized and sought-after. While blue sapphires get much of the attention, there is another variety that is truly unique and captivating - the parti sapphire. With their kaleidoscope of colours all in one stone, parti sapphires make for unforgettable jewellery pieces. Please follow as we dive into the world of parti sapphires, exploring their formation, origins, symbolism, and care.

What is a Parti Sapphire?

A parti sapphire, also known as a polychrome sapphire, is a type of fine crystal corundum that displays multiple colours within a single stone. Unlike traditional blue, green, pink, or yellow sapphires, which have a uniform hue throughout, parti sapphires showcase a unique combination of colours that can include yellow, green, blue, and more. This multi-coloured appearance is caused by varying trace elements in the stone's composition and its the partitions of different colour that give the gemstone its name, parti sapphire.

Parti sapphires make excellent choices for jewellery worn regularly, like engagement rings. Their hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale makes them very durable and resistant to scratches and wear. The unique colour combinations also mean that each parti sapphire is one-of-a-kind. For those wanting a non-traditional engagement ring that will stand out, a parti sapphire is an ideal centre stone. With care, a parti sapphire ring can be cherished and passed down for generations.

Symbolism and Meaning of Parti Sapphires

Sapphires have long been associated with nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. In ancient times, sapphires were thought to protect their wearer from harm and ill-wishers. The unique colouring of parti sapphires carries some additional special meanings:

Yellow represents optimism, clarity, and mental acuity. The yellow tones in parti sapphires are associated with increased concentration, perception, and creativity.

Green is the colour of nature, growth, and balance. In parti sapphires, green represents harmony, renewal, and a connection to the natural world.

Blue symbolises serenity, spirituality, and wisdom. The blue tones in parti sapphires are thought to enhance mental clarity and inner peace.

Pink sapphires carry meanings of love, compassion, and femininity. The rare pink hues in some parti sapphires make them especially cherished as they represent a balance of passion and serenity.

The combination of multiple colours in parti sapphires can be seen as representing different aspects coming together as a unified whole. They symbolise the wearer's versatility and ability to draw on various strengths and positive attributes. Parti sapphires celebrate the beauty of diversity and the unique qualities that make every person special.

In addition to these general associations, the specific meaning of a parti sapphire can vary depending on the dominant colours present in the stone. For example, a parti sapphire with primarily yellow and green tones might be particularly associated with growth, prosperity, and mental clarity. A stone with more blue and green might be seen as promoting balance, harmony, and spiritual wisdom.

The symbolism of parti sapphires also draws on the general cultural associations of sapphires. In many traditions, sapphires are associated with royalty and divine favour. In ancient Persia, sapphires were believed to be the pedestal upon which the earth rested. In medieval Europe, sapphires were worn by clergy as a symbol of heaven and the divine.

Sapphires are also traditionally associated with fidelity and commitment, making them a popular choice for engagement rings. The famous sapphire engagement ring worn by Princess Diana and now by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has further cemented this association in the public mind.

For parti sapphires, the symbolism of commitment and fidelity is enhanced by the stone's unique combination of colours. Just as a successful marriage, true love or friendship brings together two unique individuals together, the different colours in a parti sapphire come together to create a single, beautiful gem.

Beyond relationships, parti sapphires can also symbolise the harmony and balance we strive for within ourselves. The different colours can represent different aspects of our personality or different roles we play in life. By wearing a parti sapphire, we can remind ourselves to honour and balance these different facets of ourselves.

In some spiritual traditions, the colours in parti sapphires are associated with different chakras or energy centres in the body. Yellow is associated with the solar plexus chakra, which is linked to personal power, self-esteem, and mental clarity. Green is associated with the heart chakra, which is the centre of compassion, love, and emotional balance. Blue is linked to the throat chakra, which governs communication and self-expression.

By wearing a parti sapphire that incorporates these colours, one can work to balance and align these different energetic centres. This can promote a sense of overall well-being and harmony.

Of course, the meaning and symbolism of a parti sapphire is ultimately a deeply personal thing tied up with the fact they are aesthetically beautiful and a pleasure to behold.

Parti Sapphire Care

Sapphires, including parti sapphires, are quite durable stones that are well-suited for everyday wear. However, there are some simple care guidelines to follow to keep your parti sapphire looking its best:

  • Store your parti sapphire jewellery separately from other pieces to avoid scratches. Use a soft cloth pouch or a fabric-lined jewellery box with compartments.
  • Don't expose your parti sapphire to harsh chemicals like bleach or sulfuric acid. Removing your jewellery before swimming, using household cleaners or gardening is good practice. 
  • Clean your parti sapphire regularly with warm, soapy water and a soft brush. You can also use an ultrasonic cleaner, but be sure that the stone is not fractured or included first.
  • Have your parti sapphire checked by a professional jeweller every year to ensure the setting is secure and the stone is not damaged. They will also give it a deep clean at no cost.
  • Insure valuable parti sapphire jewellery pieces against loss or damage.

With mindful wear and and a little care, your parti sapphire will remain a vibrant and cherished piece in your collection, not only for your lifetime but for generations to come.

The Formation and Growth of Parti Sapphires

Parti sapphires, like all sapphires, are a variety of the mineral corundum and come in all colours of the rainbow other than red. Red corundum is known as ruby. Similar to how Aquamarine and Emerald are different names for different colours of Beryl, Ruby and sapphire are names for different colours of corundum. Corundum is crystalline aluminium oxide (Al2O3) that forms deep underground in the Earth's crust. It requires very specific conditions to grow - including high temperatures between 1600-1800°F and a low silica content in the surrounding rock.

As the corundum crystals grow, they are subjected to an environment rich in trace elements like iron, titanium, chromium, and magnesium. It's these elements that are responsible for the colour in sapphires. In parti sapphires, an unusual combination of trace elements are present during the crystal's formation.

Chromium is the metal that causes pink and red hues in corundum (creating rubies). Iron is responsible for the yellow and green colours, while titanium can cause blue tones. Magnesium is also thought to play a role in the colour of yellow and green sapphires. In parti sapphires, these metals are present in varying amounts in different zones of the crystal. As the sapphire grows, the trace elements are incorporated into the crystal structure, resulting in the unique layering of colours.

The most common colour zoning pattern in parti sapphires is yellow and blue. Green and teal parti colours are also seen. Much rarer are parti sapphires that display distinct bands of yellow, green, pink, purple or orange hues. The width and arrangement of the different colour bands depends on the specific growth conditions of each individual crystal. This is why every parti sapphire is unique.

The formation of parti sapphires is a complex process that requires a delicate balance of various factors. The growth environment must have the right combination of temperature, pressure, and chemical composition to allow for the incorporation of different trace elements in distinct zones within the crystal.

The rate of crystal growth is another important factor. If the sapphire grows too quickly, there may not be enough time for the different trace elements to be incorporated in an ordered way, resulting in a more muddled or mottled appearance. A slower growth rate allows for more distinct colour zoning to develop.

The specific geologic setting also plays a role in parti sapphire formation. Most parti sapphires form in metamorphic rocks that have undergone significant changes due to heat and pressure. These rocks often have a complex history, with multiple episodes of metamorphism and fluid infiltration. This can create a dynamic environment where the conditions for parti sapphire growth are just right.

Once formed, parti sapphires are brought to the surface through volcanic eruptions or by erosion of the host rock. They are then transported by rivers and streams and deposited in alluvial sediments. This is why many parti sapphires are found in alluvial deposits rather than in their original host rock.

The journey from formation deep underground to discovery in a riverbed can take millions of years. Each parti sapphire carries with it a unique story of the geologic forces that shaped it. The resulting colour zoning patterns are like a fingerprint, recording the specific conditions of the crystal's growth.

When a parti sapphire is cut and polished, the lapidary artist must carefully consider the orientation of the colour zones to showcase the stone's unique beauty. Often, parti sapphires are cut in a way that displays the different colours in distinct bands or sections. This might mean orienting the stone off-axis from the typical cutting orientation for a sapphire. The goal is to maximise the visual impact of the colour zoning.

Some parti sapphires are heat-treated to enhance their colour. This is a common practice in the sapphire industry, as heat can help to dissolve silk inclusions and improve colour saturation. Don't be put off by heat-treated sapphires, as it's a stable treatment that echos the natural heat treatment that can occur during or soon after creation.

The formation of parti sapphires is a testament to the incredible complexity and variability of geologic processes. Each stone is a unique creation, born from a specific set of conditions deep within the Earth. As we admire the beauty of these gems, we are also marvelling at the forces of nature that brought them into being.

Major Parti Sapphire Deposits

Parti sapphires are found in several locations around the world, often in alluvial deposits where the stones have weathered out of their host rock and collected in rivers and streams. Some of the major sources of parti sapphires include:

Australia - Australia is famous for its parti sapphires, with notable deposits found in Queensland and New South Wales. The sapphires from Australia formed around 60 million years ago during the Tertiary period. They are found in alluvial deposits that have weathered out of alkali basalts.

The Queensland deposits are located in the Anakie region near the towns of Rubyvale and Sapphire. These areas have been mined for over 100 years and produce yellow, green, and blue parti sapphires. The New South Wales deposits are found near the town of Inverell. Inverell parti sapphires often have distinct colour banding and zones of bright yellow and blue-green.

Madagascar - Madagascar is another important source of parti sapphires. The island nation off the coast of East Africa is known for its rich mineral deposits, including a variety of sapphires. Parti sapphires from Madagascar often display vivid yellow and green colours, with some stones showing distinct colour banding.

United States - Parti sapphires are found in several states in the U.S., including Montana and North Carolina. The most famous U.S. parti sapphire deposit is the Yogo Gulch in Montana. Yogo sapphires are known for their uniform blue colour, but some stones display distinct colour zoning with bands of blue, yellow, and green.

Tanzania - Tanzania is a major source of sapphires, including some parti sapphires. The main sapphire deposits are located in the northern part of the country, near the city of Arusha. Parti sapphires from Tanzania often have a dark blue base colour with zones of green, yellow, purple and pink.

Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is famous for its sapphires, which have been mined for over 2000 years. While true parti sapphires are less common here, some Sri Lankan sapphires do display colour zoning with areas of blue, yellow, and green.

Each of these locations has its own unique geologic history that has created the conditions necessary for parti sapphire formation. The specific trace elements present, as well as the conditions of heat and pressure, contribute to the distinct colour zoning patterns seen in parti sapphires from each deposit.

Regardless of their origin, parti sapphires are highly prized for their unique beauty. The interplay of colours within a single stone is a testament to the incredible diversity of the natural world. Each parti sapphire is a small miracle of geology, a product of specific conditions coming together in just the right way to create something truly special.

As the demand for unique and unusual gemstones continues to grow, parti sapphires are gaining in popularity. More and more jewellery designers are incorporating these multi-coloured stones into their pieces, celebrating their one-of-a-kind beauty. For those looking for a gemstone that stands out from the crowd, a parti sapphire is a perfect choice.

However, the rarity of these stones also means that they can be quite expensive. Parti sapphires are far less common than traditional blue sapphires, and stones with strong colour zoning and good clarity are especially rare. As with any gemstone purchase, it's important to buy from a reputable jeweller and to understand the factors that affect a stone's value.

When shopping for a parti sapphire, look at a lot of gemstones if possible. You will find you are drawn to certain colours or combinations of colours. These remarkable gemstones are all about personality. Take your time, and you will be rewarded.

It's also important to consider the cut of the stone. Parti sapphires are often cut in unique ways to showcase their colour zoning. A skilled lapidary will orient the stone to maximise the visual impact of the different colours. Some less popular gemstone cuts work perfectly for parti sapphires, like rose cuts, table cuts and free-form cuts. There is more variety of cut and colour in parti sapphires than for any other gemstone.

As with any coloured gemstone, the size of a parti sapphire also affects its value. Larger stones are rarer and, therefore, more expensive. However, a smaller stone with exceptional colour and clarity can be just as valuable as a larger stone of lower quality. Ultimately, the value of a parti sapphire is in the eye of the beholder. These unique gems are prized for their one-of-a-kind beauty, and the right stone is the one that speaks to you personally.

Conclusion

Parti sapphires are a fascinating and beautiful product of the earth's geologic processes. From their formation deep underground to their discovery in alluvial deposits, each stone has a unique story to tell. By understanding the science behind these gems and appreciating their rarity and beauty, we can truly marvel at the wonders of the natural world.

Whether you're a collector, a jewellery enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of coloured gemstones, parti sapphires are a treasure to behold. These unique stones capture the imagination with their kaleidoscope of colours, each one a small work of art created by the forces of nature.

As we continue to explore and study these gems, we gain not only a deeper appreciation for their beauty but also a greater understanding of the complex geological processes that shape our planet. In a way, each parti sapphire is a tiny window into the history of the earth, a crystalline record of the conditions and events that have shaped our world over millions of years.

So the next time you have the opportunity to admire a parti sapphire, take a moment to consider the incredible journey that brought this stone into your hands. From the depths of the earth to the light of day, each parti sapphire is a testament to the enduring beauty and mystery of the natural world.

If you're interested in creating a bespoke ring spend some time looking through our collection of loose parti sapphires. Our designers and jewellers are highly experienced in achieving amazing results using these incredible gemstones. 

If you'd prefer purchasing a ready made ring have a look through our Ready to Wear collection.

We love parti sapphires at Utopian Creations and pride ourselves on our collection, knowledge and huge supplier base. If there is something you are interested in but you cant find it please contact us and we'll respond with some options.