Ultimate Comparison of White Sapphire Vs Diamond

White sapphire is a natural gemstone and the second hardest material in the world, next to diamonds. Due to its beauty, high quality, and hardness, it has become a popular diamond alternative. It has become so popular, that you can even buy lab-created white sapphires.

The word “sapphire” refers to the blue gemstone variety of the mineral “Corundum”. Corundum is a transparent mineral that exists in all kinds of colors and also a colorless sapphire or white version, just like there are colorless diamonds. The blue version is the most popular and was even said to make the sky blue with its reflections in ancient Persia…

Set of blue sapphire gemstone isolated. Gems different cut

Set of blue sapphire gemstone isolated. Gems different cut

Lesser known is the colorless or white version of the mineral. That’s why you won’t find a colorless gemstone at online vendors such as James Allen, who only offers colored sapphires (and colored diamonds).

White Sapphire Vs Diamond Ring Price

First, a clear advantage of sapphire jewelry is the much lower price compared to diamonds.

white sapphire vs diamond

white sapphire vs diamond

white sapphire vs diamond

For instance, the sapphire above is 1.20 ct in weight and costs $1,326.00. When looking at a diamond of very similar weight with acceptable color, clarity and cut grades you’ll see that the lowest price starts at $5,870. That means a traditional diamond is about 4x more expensive than its cheaper alternative.

Visual Differences Between a Diamond and a Sapphire

Diamond Vs SapphireWhen comparing a diamond to sapphire, the first thing you’ll notice is that the diamond has much more sparkle and scintillation (scintillation refers to the rainbow colors that you can typically see in a diamond).

It also has more brilliance and fire. And at the end of the day, it’s the sparkle and beautiful light reflections that a diamond is all about. A white sapphire simply can’t compete with that.

Furthermore, compared to diamonds, sapphires have a great tendency to appear somewhat cloudy or milky inside. It’s not that cloudy diamonds don’t’ exist.

Especially diamonds with strong fluorescence can be cloudy. But it is exactly these diamonds though that you would try to avoid…

GIA Reports and Cut Grading

GIA Diamond Report

GIA Diamond Report

The GIA does not grade white or colored sapphires. What you’ll find instead are gemstone certificates examined by professional GIA graduate gemologists. These reports describe the basic parameters of the gem-like carat weight, measurements, color, and treatment.

For a diamond, the cut, color, and shape are very important factors, as they largely determine its beauty in terms of brilliance, fire, and sparkle. As we found out earlier, white sapphires greatly differ from white diamonds in that aspect. Because sapphires lack these characteristics and, the GIA does not grade them.

Durability

Sapphires are less durable than diamonds and less resistant to scratching. These gems are 4 times more prone to getting scratches on the surface compared to their more expensive rivals.

The reason for that is, that diamonds are four times harder than sapphires, scoring 10 out of 10 on the Mohs scale.

Mohs Scale

Mohs Scale

Therefore, a sapphire requires more and also constant care compared to a diamond does. Much like an 18k gold ring settings requires more work than 14k or 10k gold settings (also applies to white gold).

Sapphire Treatment: Heat Treated or Not?

There are two kinds of treatments that most sapphires receive: heat treatment and chemical treatment. These treatments are supposed to enhance the natural beauty of the gem, such as the color.

When a sapphire is described as natural in their gem certificate, don’t’ be fooled. “Natural” in this case, doesn’t mean that they haven’t been treated, rather it means that they haven’t been lab-created. Lab-created gems are a lot cheaper compared to naturally occurring gems.

Where to buy White Sapphire?

I already explained in a different blog post about where to buy engagement rings online, that you should never buy a diamond blindly. The same applies to sapphires. If you want to save yourself some money I recommend avoiding visiting a brick and mortar store.

However, it is important to only buy at trusted online stores and not fall for a scam. Most reputable online retailers offer 360° videos and high-resolution pictures of all their stones.

Here are some places to buy white sapphires engagement rings:

The Natural Sapphire Company

Here you can find online retailers that sell colored sapphires and diamonds:

James Allen

James Allen and Blue Nile offer 360° videos and also a Super Zoom function that lets you take a close look at each diamond.

You might also want to check out Charles Colvard.

White Sapphire and Moissanites Vs Cubic Zirconia

When it comes to white or colorless alternatives to a diamond, a more popular engagement ring alternatives are cubic zirconia stones. Cubic zirconia stones outperform sapphires in some areas and cuts short in others.

The pros of cubic zirconia:

  • It has high brilliance, fire, and sparkle
  • It’s even cheaper than a sapphire

The downside:

  • It’s less durable
  • It tends to look fake

Other alternatives that might be worth checking out before you set your heart on a white sapphire are lab-created diamonds and moissanite. Both moissanite and white sapphires are some good options when looking for a diamond alternative. In my opinion, though, nothing looks prettier than a well-cut diamond (same applies to lab-created diamonds).

Conclusion

White sapphire and a diamond both make a beautiful center stone for an engagement ring. However, when comparing the two gemstones side by side it’s easy to spot several visual differences. They are also no graded by the same grading system, thus it is important that you check the reputation of the vendor you are buying from.

If you are looking for an affordable diamond alternative but want the same qualities of a diamond, I recommend checking out lab-created diamonds. Lab-created diamonds cost a fraction of what a natural diamond costs. You can read more about diamond alternatives here.

4 Comments

  1. Maggie

    Thank you for your informative document. I recently placed my colourless sapphire eternity ring in for a valuation. I did not mention what the stones were. I was told that it wasn’t diamonds but cubic zirconias. I then informed the valuer that I was sold the ring as colourless sapphires. I was then told they are worthless and if they are subjected to too much wate, for instance with hand washing, the colourless/white sapphires become cloudy.

     
    Reply
    • MyDiamondGuide

      Hey Maggie, I’m very sorry to hear that! Unfortunately, there are always people out there who want to cheat people and sadly succeed in doing so. For the untrained eyes it is relatively difficult to tell whether the stone you are holding in your hands is a sapphire, a cubic zirconia, a diamond or a moissanite. It’s much easier to tell them apart when they are lying right next to each other. Should one be in the fortunate position to have several gem stones at home, one could always to a scratch test. Same material can’t scratch each other. For example, if you have a sapphire and a zirconia and wonder which one is which you could try to scratch the material. Only the zirconia will show the scratches because the sapphire is more durable and harder. Again, I’m very sorry for the bad experience you had.

       
      Reply
  2. Mike Maron

    Can a jeweler with a loop identify a white sapphire from a cubic zirconia quite easily?

     
    Reply
    • MyDiamondGuide

      Hi Mike, yes a professional jeweler can quite easily tell the two gemstones apart. Depending on the size of the stone he/she might not even need a loop. I’ll publish a blog post covering alternative diamonds, including sapphires and cubic zirconia, soon. Stay tuned!

       
      Reply

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