Automatically imbued with ideas of luxury, delicacy and brilliance, the sapphire has cloaked royalty, clergy, and jewelry connoisseurs for centuries. While blue is almost certainly the most identifiable, the sapphire is available in an innumerable amount of colors. However, it's the salmon, orangy-pink type, donned with the proper name padparadscha, that speaks to the rarest variety.
Understood as the most rare and remarkable variety of the sapphire gemstone family, the padparadscha is acclaimed for its unique color and scarcity. Its incomparable color straddles the boundary between red, orange and yellow that has been said to be a marriage between the delicate lotus blossom and the glow of a sunset. While it’s exact color definition is a matter of debate, the general color range is that from an rich salmon-pink color to pinkish-orange to orangy-pink hues.
While the term “sapphire” is perhaps one of the most recognizable in the world, “padparadscha” is a bit more elusive. Though immediately known to gemstone experts and connosieurs, the general public may not be as informed about this most illusive beauty. The strange (and somewhat complicated) name is derived from the Singhalese word for acquatic lotus blossom, or padma raga (where padma = lotus; raga = color). In Sri Lanka, a lotus blossom, or water lily, perfectly grows from the bottom of murky, muddy water. This idyllic flower is a representation of the pristine color of the padparadscha. Symbolically, the lotus flower represents the divinity of enlightenment, eternity, and purity. The use of this name provides the perfect combination between lustrous color of the gemstone and rich symbolism of its history.
While reference to this gemstone as homage to the lotus blossom has been used for over 100 years, the name itself has a longer history. The earliest reference to this gemstone in gemological literature exists in the 1849 writings of German naturalist, Wilhelm Moritz Keferstein. Using the term, “padmaraga,” he refers to a deep rose-red lotus color, which is a variant to the orangy-pink color that we identify the padapradscha with today. At the turn of the century, the derivation of the term from the Sinhalese word padmaragaya was used, referring to a reddish-yellow, rather than earlier as just simply red. It wasn’t until 1932 that the term as we see it spelled today was used by Max Bauer, renowned dean of gemological writers. Writing of the “Padparadscha” he refers to the stone as we know it today.
For centuries, the only known source of padparadscha was the lush green foothills and calm river basins of Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. Today, while padparadscha’s exist in mines in Madagascar, Sri Lanka is still the only source for the finest specimens. In the late 1990s, the gemstone market experienced a large influx of padparadschas and consumer enthusiasm- and expert acknowledgement of the stone- was alive more than ever before.
In the gemstone market, the importance of the padparadscha cannot be overemphasized. In recent years, padparadschas have performed exceedingly well-out performing other gemstone rarities, such as demantoid garnets, Burma rubies, and Paraiba tourmalines.
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