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If you’re exploring alternatives to a diamond for your engagement ring, you’ve probably thought about sapphires. Blue sapphires have been a popular choice for engagement rings for decades, in part thanks to Princess Diana, who wore a 12-carat halo sapphire when she got engaged to Prince Charles. Her daughter-in-law Kate Middleton re-ignited the trend when she received the same ring from Prince William in 2010. But did you know that blue sapphires have an equally gorgeous, yet much more affordable sibling stone, the white sapphire? It combines the look of a diamond with the glamour, mystique, and rich history and meaning of a sapphire.
“Sapphires have ancient associations in many different cultures with loyalty, integrity, and romantic devotion, so a white sapphire is an appropriate choice for someone wanting a stone that symbolizes the power of their commitment,” says Sharon Schatner of Filigree Jewelers.
Meet the Expert
Sharon Schatner is a GIA diamond graduate and self-proclaimed “rock nerd” at Filigree Jewelers in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
If you love the look of a colorless stone but don’t want to spend diamond-worthy prices, white sapphires may be for you. This clear stone has a diamond-esque vibe without the higher cost, making it a popular option for budget-conscious couples. It is important to note, however, that white sapphires are not quite as sparkly as diamonds. “White sapphires do sparkle but not nearly as much as diamonds because of diamonds’ high refractive index and dispersion, which are two measures for how a gemstone handles light,” Schatner shares. “White sapphires have the advantage of keeping the traditional look of a colorless stone engagement ring but without needing it to be a diamond.”
If you’re interested in rocking a white sapphire as an engagement ring or as part of your wedding set, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite white sapphire pieces for inspiration—and shared what you need to know about this intriguing stone.
What to Look For When Buying White Sapphire Engagement Rings
When shopping for a white sapphire engagement ring, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.
The first thing to note is the price; white sapphires are a very accessible gem, though natural stones will have a higher price tag than lab-created stones. Prices can range anywhere from $100 for a lab-created stone to the low thousands for a piece with added gemstones.
What’s the difference between a natural gem and a lab-created stone, and how do you know which one is right for you? “Finding white sapphires straight out of the ground is not common. Sapphires that are clear and white enough to be faceted into gems are rare since most sapphires have at least a slight tinge of color like blue or yellow,” explains Schatner. “Therefore, many white sapphires you see have been heat-treated to remove the slight tinges of other hues and to also improve their clarity.”
According to Schatner, heat treatment is the oldest and most stable form of gem treatment and is very common in the industry; it doesn’t damage the stone and offers lasting results. Like colored sapphires, white sapphires have been found in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Madagascar, Pakistan, East Africa, and Montana.
“Lab-created white sapphires have the same chemical properties, crystal structure, and optical qualities as sapphires that came from the ground,” Schatner explains. “They are just made in a controlled environment. They are grown in a lab simulating the elements and conditions that are present when they form naturally in the earth. Many consumers appreciate the sustainability factor of lab-grown stones.”
If you’re tough on your jewelry and live a high-impact lifestyle, white sapphires are a great choice; they’re extremely durable stones, ranking nine out of 10 on the Moh’s scale of hardness (diamonds rank the highest). “Anyone can wear a white sapphire since gem-quality white sapphires are durable enough for everyday wear,” says Schatner. “They still should not be worn when doing activities that can damage gemstones or settings like cooking, cleaning, gardening, lifting weights, or anything that can cause impact with heavy objects.”
White sapphires look great in all settings, so whether you love traditional yellow gold or prefer sterling silver, you’ll find lots of options for a ring that suits your personal style—and your budget.
Yes! White sapphires are beautiful, durable, and look like diamonds, but have a much lower price point. They’re gaining in popularity as a diamond alternative.
They are. Like their natural counterparts, lab-created white sapphires are extremely durable stones.
No. Sapphires as a whole are scratch-resistant and a great choice for a ring you’ll wear every day. Just be sure to remove your ring when doing any high-impact work or exercise and follow the recommended care guidelines.
If your stone looks cloudy, a simple cleaning should bring back its sparkle and glow. As white sapphires are clear and don’t refract a great deal of light, they do require frequent cleaning, so make it a weekly habit to keep your stone looking its most fabulous.