Like sapphires of other colours and rubies, padparadscha sapphires are often heat treated. A controversy arose in the beginning of the 21st century about special heat treatments utilising extremely high temperature and the addition of beryllium into the process. This was a novel way to change the colour of relatively unattractive, light pink sapphires into the sought after padparadscha colour. Nowadays, gemmological laboratories mark stones treated in this fashion as "lattice diffused" and include this statement in their reports. Stones that bare such an indication on their report are not called padparadscha sapphires, even when all other conditions are met.
The name padparadscha has its origin in the Sinhalese tongue of Sri Lanka and translates to "lotus blossom" in English. Like the flower from which its name is derived, the padparadscha sapphire enchants its beholders with a unique play of colours that is closely associated with the island of Sri Lanka and the culture of its people.
Like its blue cousin, the padparadscha sapphire is an aluminium oxide, called corundum. The divine orange and pink colours are owed to traces of iron and chromium within the mineral, making this gemstone extremely rare. This is why padparadscha sapphires regularly command prices that are way beyond the normal price ranges for fancy sapphires of other colours.
Earlier in history, many yellowish orange and reddish orange sapphires tended to be categorised as padparadscha sapphires. Today, many renowned gemmological laboratories, including the Gübelin Gem Lab agree that only stones that fit within a tight and well-defined spectrum of pinkish orange to orangey pink colours with low to medium saturation still have the right to bare this noble denotation. Besides the requirements concerning colour and saturation, a padparadscha sapphire must display an even colour distribution and must not have been treated in any way beyond traditional heating.
For many years, Sri Lanka has been considered the only true country of origin for padparadscha sapphires. However, in recent years stones have been found in Madagascar, Vietnam and Tanzania which have been deemed worthy in their saturation and colour, to be called padparadscha sapphires.
The padparadscha sapphire enchants us with colours reminiscent of a peaceful sunrise on a tropical island. Discover in this episode of our video series "Gübelin Gem Sessions" the mysteries behind this legendary gemstone and explore its unique, breath-taking beauty.