Whenever you think of blue gemstones, there’s a good chance you think of aquamarine and sapphire.
While these two beautiful gemstones share a similar color, there are quite a few differences between the two.
In today’s comparison, let’s take a look as to what makes aquamarine different from that of sapphire.
What is the difference between aquamarine and sapphire?
Birthstones: Aquamarine is associated with March, whereas a blue sapphire is the birthstone for September.
Color: Sapphire will be found in multiple shades, mainly from a soft blue to something more intense and dark. What you find out is that most people prefer the darker-toned sapphires. It may exhibit color zoning, where different shades of blue and/or other colors can appear. Aquamarine, on the other hand, will be available in different shades as well; however, it can be much lighter than that of a sapphire, sometimes displaying a greenish hue in some cases. It will usually be a consistent color throughout the stone with minimal color zoning.
Composition: Aquamarine is a variety of the mineral beryl, which includes other gemstones such as emerald and morganite. A blue sapphire is a form of corundum, which belongs to the same family as ruby, only differing in colors due to the trace elements.
Geographical source: Aquamarine is mainly sourced from Brazil, Nigeria and Madagascar, with Brazilian aquamarine often seen as the most coveted choice. As for blue sapphires, you will find them mainly in Sri Lanka, but you can also find deposits in Madagascar and Myanmar. Kashmir and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) sapphires are said to be the most sought after, mainly due to their color and quality.
Hardness: Blue sapphire scores a nine on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it one of the hardest gemstones you can own. Aquamarine is slightly lower at a 7.5, which means it’s still durable; however, it’s still susceptible to scratches.
Inclusions: Typically, aquamarine will have fewer inclusions, which means it will be more transparent and cleaner than sapphire. Generally, sapphires will have slight inclusions, which can look almost silk-like. In some cases, these inclusions can increase the demand as some collectors often look like optical phenomena such as the “star effect.”
Symbolism: Usually, aquamarine has been associated with the sea, which means it’s said to promote tranquility, calmness and clarity. It’s said to closely resonate with peace and communication. Sapphire, on the other hand, will be more representative of loyalty, wisdom and protection. Many see it as a stone of power, that’s closely associated with royalty historically.
Is sapphire or aquamarine better?
This is a question often asked, but it’s hard to answer as it depends on your personal preferences and how you’re going to use the gemstone.
As both of these stones have their unique characteristics, one may be more appealing to another.
However, to make things easier for you, let’s compare what each one can offer to hopefully help you make a better decision.
- Color: If you prefer more of a deep, rich blue color, then a blue sapphire is a no-brainer of a choice. However, if you like something that’s lighter with a green hue in some cases, then aquamarine may be a wiser choice.
- Inclusions/clarity: Aquamarine will have fewer inclusions and a more transparent appearance, which makes it more desirable for some people. However, as noted, blue sapphires can have some unique optical inclusions, such as the star effect, which can make the gemstone much more unique (and valuable).
- Price: If you’re on a budget, almost always sapphire will be more, sometimes much more. Aquamarine may be lighter on the wallet.
Which is more valuable: aquamarine or blue sapphire?
Usually, blue sapphire will be worth more than aquamarine, and this is mainly due to the rarity, higher demand and the rarer deep, rich blue color that many collectors drool over. High-quality blue sapphires will have fantastic color saturation, clarity and carat weight.
While aquamarine stones are beautiful, they won’t fetch as high of a price tag, mainly because it’s much more common than blue sapphire. However, the price of the aquamarine, like all crystals, will depend on the quality, size, color and clarity. An exceptional aquamarine with an intense color and clarity can still yield a high price.
Aquamarine vs. sapphire price
When comparing the price of any gemstone, you will always have to pay close attention to the color, clarity, cut, and carat weight, as these factors will greatly influence the stone’s price. While we can give an estimate, keep in mind that these prices can greatly differ.
As noted, blue sapphire will almost always be more expensive than aquamarine, mainly due to the rarity and higher demand. Aquamarine will be about $50 to $175 per carat for a lower-end piece to as much as $200 to $500+ for a much higher quality piece. Exceptional aquamarine pieces with intense colors can fetch much higher prices.
Blue sapphires, on average, can start in the lower $100 per carat range and go up as much as $1,000+ per carat for a high quality piece. Higher sought after sources like Kashmir and Ceylon in Sri Lanka can increase the price by more than $1,000+ carat.
Again, these are meant to be “ranges” and the many factors mentioned can greatly influence the price.
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