The Diamond Pro

A Complete Guide to Blue Sapphire Engagement Rings

By Michael Fried

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A blue sapphire can look elegant and stunning as an engagement ring center stone, with a rich color that sets it apart from other gemstones. 

In general, buying a blue sapphire engagement ring is less technical than buying a ring with a diamond center stone. Because clarity and cut aren’t as important as they are with a diamond, it’s best to focus on finding a blue sapphire with the most impressive, captivating color.

Because of this, we recommend shopping for a blue sapphire engagement ring from a trusted vendor that provides high-resolution photos with accurate color representation, such as James Allen or Leibish & Co.  


As the most well known of the sapphire colors, blue sapphires offer a unique beauty that’s made them a favorite of royalty for centuries. Recently, this popularity has spread to the world of bridal jewelry. 

0.71ct Blue Round Sapphire Solitaire Ring

Blue sapphires have been a popular engagement ring center stone for decades, with an elegant appearance that’s made them a popular alternative to diamonds. However, they’re really shot up in popularity since 2010, when Kate Middleton’s stunning blue sapphire engagement ring made headlines.

While buying an engagement ring featuring a diamond is all about maximizing the four Cs (cut, color, clarity and carat), shopping for a blue sapphire engagement ring is quite a different process. Generally, cut and clarity aren’t quite so important, while color is essential.

For more examples of what blue sapphire engagement rings can look like, feel free to browse through recently purchased rings from our highest-rated retailers.

We’ve covered this in more detail below, along with actionable tips to help you buy the highest quality blue sapphire engagement ring for your budget. 

Blue Sapphire Meaning

Blue sapphires have been precious gemstones for thousands of years. In Ancient Persia, it was widely believed that the blue hue of the sky was caused by the reflection of sapphire stones. For several religions, the deep blue hue of sapphire was viewed as a representation of heaven. 

As the birthstone for the month of September, giving a blue sapphire engagement ring can be a special, meaningful way to propose if your fiancé-to-be has their birthday in this month. 

Even for people not born in September, blue sapphire can have a special meaning that makes it a great engagement ring center stone. Kings and other royalty, as well as numerous well-known historical figures, have worn blue sapphire jewelry due to its association with good fortune. 

Our guide to sapphires goes into greater detail about the historical significance of sapphires, as well as the origins of “sapphire” as a name. 

Beyond their historical significance, blue sapphires are versatile, durable center stones that are ideal for engagement rings. Sapphires score 9/10 on the Mohs’ scale of hardness, making them second only to diamonds in terms of scratch resistance and overall durability.

Famous Blue Sapphire Engagement Rings

Although blue sapphire engagement rings have grown hugely in popularity over the last decade, this richly colored gemstone has been one of the favorite center stones of royalty and important figures for centuries. 

Right now, the most famous blue sapphire engagement ring is undoubtedly Kate Middleston’s stunning 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire ring. First purchased by Prince Charles in 1981, it was famously worn by Princess Diana throughout their marriage. 

While Kate Middleton’s is undoubtedly the most well-known royal sapphire engagement ring at the moment, it’s far from the only historical example. In 1795, when Napoleon proposed to his future bride Josephine, he did so with a unique “You and Me” blue sapphire and diamond ring. 

What to Look For in a Blue Sapphire Engagement Ring

As we’ve covered in our guide to the four Cs, buying a diamond is all about understanding how factors such as cut, color, clarity and carat weight affect a diamond’s value, then maximizing the visible factors that contribute to the beauty of the diamond you choose.

3.17ct Blue Sapphire Oval Cut in Halo Setting

Buying a blue sapphire is a little different. While a diamond is treasured for its brilliance, a blue sapphire is primarily treasured for its color.

This means that while factors like cut and clarity are crucial to a diamond’s appearance, they’re less important than factors like color for a blue sapphire.

Color

A natural, “true” blue color is the biggest visual factor that affects a blue sapphire’s value. For the most part, the closer you get to a “true” blue, the higher the quality of the sapphire and the more it will cost to purchase.

Blue sapphires can range in color from a pure, “cornflower” blue to blue with slight hints of green or purple. Generally, the more visually obvious the hints of green or purple are, the less valuable the sapphire becomes. 

Two factors that can affect a sapphire’s color are its tone and saturation. Tone refers to how light or dark the blue color of the sapphire is. A lighter tone can make a sapphire appear washed out and less impressive, while an overly dark tone can make the blue color harder to see.

When it comes to tone, it’s best to stick with a sapphire that sits in the middle of the range, with a blue that’s strong enough to see clearly but not so dark that the details of the gemstone can’t easily be seen. 

0.77ct Oval Natural Blue Sapphire

As for saturation, the highest quality sapphires tend to have rich, consistent and vivid color that’s free of brown or gray areas. 

Unlike diamonds, which are graded for color using an objective, standardized system, sapphires aren’t graded for color using any kind of standardized scale. This makes it important to shop for blue sapphire engagement rings from a vendor that provides accurate, high-quality photos. 

For blue sapphire engagement rings and other jewelry, we recommend James Allen and Leibish & Co., both of whom offer excellent, high-resolution photographs of their inventory. 

Clarity

All sapphires will contain inclusions called rutile needles, making it extremely uncommon to find a flawless, inclusion-free blue sapphire. The vast majority of sapphires are also heat treated for improved clarity and color.

In general, inclusions are less of an issue with blue sapphires than they are with diamonds. To inspect a diamond for inclusions, a gemologist will typically use a 10x magnification loupe. With a sapphire, a gemologist usually won’t use any magnification at all during their inspection. 

Most of the time, if a blue sapphire is “eye-clean,” meaning it has no obvious inclusions that are visible to the naked eye, its clarity is acceptable for an engagement ring or other jewelry. 

Cut

Unlike with a diamond, there are no standardized cuts for blue sapphires. To look its best, a blue sapphire should be cut symmetrically and reflect light at the correct angles to display the stone’s beauty and luster. 

When blue sapphire is used as an engagement ring center stone, the most popular cuts tend to be oval, round, cushion and emerald. There’s no “best” cut for a blue sapphire, allowing you to choose something that matches your fiancé-to-be’s tastes and personality. 

Carat Weight

Like diamonds, blue sapphires come in an incredible range of carat weights. Because sapphires tend to be heavier than diamonds, a one carat blue sapphire will often look slightly smaller than a diamond of equivalent carat weight. 

Because of this, it’s important to look at carat weight and measurements when you’re comparing blue sapphires. To make this easier, vendors like James Allen list measurements for each loose sapphire in their inventory — for example, this 1.07 carat blue sapphire measures 6.62×4.79mm. 

Where to Buy a Blue Sapphire Engagement Ring

As we mentioned above, the best places to buy a blue sapphire engagement ring are James Allen and Leibish & Co.

0.79ctw Blue Oval Sapphire in Diamond Side Stone Ring

Both of these vendors are trusted, offer the best pricing in the industry and provide high-quality photos of their inventory (this is essential for checking a sapphire’s color). They both also offer numerous high-quality engagement ring settings — something we’ll cover in more detail later.

There are a few key differences between James Allen and Leibish & Co. that you’ll want to be aware of before shopping. We’ve listed these below, as well as more information on the main advantages of each vendor. 

James Allen

James Allen is one of the largest online retailers of diamonds, gemstones, engagement rings and other high-quality jewelry. Although they’re best known for their diamonds, they also stock one of the largest selections of blue sapphires of any online vendor. 

Currently, James Allen’s loose blue sapphire selection features almost 5,000 different stones in varying sizes and cuts.  

One advantage of shopping at James Allen is that they have a great selection of blue sapphires in the one to two carat range. These sapphires are typically less expensive than diamonds of an equivalent carat weight, allowing you to affordably maximize the size of your center stone. 

For example, this stunning 1.78 carat round natural blue sapphire is priced at $2,230. Set in this beautiful 14k white gold pave engagement ring, you have an elegant, gorgeous ring that’s priced at just over $3,000. 

This 2.93 carat oval natural blue sapphire is also a great choice. Available for $5,360, it can look fantastic in a range of settings, including this beautiful 14k white gold knife edge solitaire setting, available for an additional $405. 

As we’ve covered in our James Allen review, James Allen is a great place to shop for any type of engagement ring. Their customer service is top notch, their return policy is very generous to customers and their pricing is some of the best in the business. 

Leibish & Co. 

Leibish & Co. is another great place to buy a blue sapphire engagement ring. While their range of blue sapphires isn’t as vast as James Allen’s, they stock a great selection of high-quality Sri Lankan and Burmese sapphires, many of which haven’t been heat treated.

As we mentioned in our guide to sapphires, sapphires that haven’t been heat treated are rare and exceptionally valuable. 

This stunning 2.47 carat Burmese blue sapphire is available from Leibish & Co. for $17,250. It has a gorgeous deep blue hue and no signs of heat treatment. Set in this 18k white gold halo engagement ring setting, it costs a total of $21,190. 

1.25ct Blue, Sri Lankan Sapphire in Cushion Shape

Although Leibish specializes in high-end sapphires, they also have a diverse selection of more affordable stones. This gorgeous 1.83 carat cornflower blue Sri Lankan sapphire is available at a price of $2,650. In this classic solitaire setting, it costs a total of $3,900. 

Like James Allen, Leibish & Co. offer excellent customer service. All of their loose gemstones, rings and other jewelry come with free, fully insured shipping worldwide, certification and a 30-day money back guarantee. You can learn more about them in our Leibish & Co. review

Tips for Choosing the Best Blue Sapphire Ring

As we mentioned above, buying a blue sapphire engagement ring is less technical than buying a diamond. Despite this, there is a range of ways that you can maximize your value for money and get the highest quality center stone and ring for your budget:

  • Choose the right metal. Although blue sapphires can look great in any type of setting, they tend to look best alongside white metals, such as white gold and platinum. These metals emphasize and complement the deep blue color of the sapphire.

  • Consider a halo setting. Blue sapphires can look particularly beautiful when they’re surrounded by a halo of small diamonds. Halo settings, such as this ring from James Allen, are perfect for emphasizing the beauty and size of a round blue sapphire.

  • Check the sapphire’s measurements. As we mentioned above, blue sapphires are usually heavier than diamonds of the equivalent size. Because of this, it’s important to check the measurements as well as the carat weight when sizing up a sapphire.

  • Don’t worry too much about heat treatment. The vast majority of blue sapphires on the market undergo heat treatment for improved color and clarity. This is a very normal, common process that doesn’t cause any damage to the sapphire. 

    As such, it’s best not to worry about heat treatment. If you’re searching for an untreated sapphire, expect to pay significantly more for it than you would for a heat-treated sapphire of the equivalent carat weight.

  • Focus on color, not clarity. Unlike diamonds, which often only have tiny inclusions, it’s very rare for a sapphire to have no inclusions at all. If a sapphire is “eye-clean,” meaning it’s free of inclusions to the naked eye, it should look excellent in a ring.

  • Pay close attention to the photos. The tone and saturation of a blue sapphire have a huge impact on its appearance. When you’re comparing sapphires, use the high-quality photos offered by merchants like James Allen and Leibish & Co. to assess their color.

    If you’re shopping from your phone or tablet, check that the brightness is turned up high enough to provide an accurate representation of the sapphire’s tone, saturation and the presence of any hints of green or purple.

Shop for blue sapphire engagement rings here.

If you need more help buying a blue sapphire engagement ring or any other jewelry, feel free to contact us. Our experts can help you find the highest quality sapphire engagement ring for your budget.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
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