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Blue is arguably the most popular gemstone color for use in jewelry. There are a wide range of blue gemstones to choose from, from common blue chalcedony to the rarest blue diamonds.
From a color psychology point of view, blue is associated with depth, stability, knowledge, power, gravity and calmness. It also symbolizes confidence, trust, faith and truth. Blue gemstones, in all their shades, textures and vividness, are simply beautiful. These reasons are why blue is the among the most popular color for engagement rings. In fact, the world’s most iconic engagement ring (that of Princess Diana, now worn by Kate Middleton) boasts a large blue Ceylon sapphire.
So, we agree. Blue is an amazing color for a gemstone. But there are so many blue gemstones out there that picking out one can be difficult. Which should you choose and based on what criteria?
Here we’ve listed the top 13 blue gemstones used in jewelry, highlighting their pros and cons.
Blue diamonds are among the rarest of all colored diamond varieties and among the most expensive. These gemstones receive their color through the traces of boron present during the stone’s formation.
Blue diamonds have the same properties as colorless diamonds, with exceptional brilliance and fire, and a perfect hardness rating of 10. However although diamonds are extremely scratch resistance, they are not the toughest gemstone and, as they are rather brittle, there is the likelihood that a blue diamond can break if exposed to hard knocks.
Blue diamonds come in a range of shades, with the best considered Fancy Deep. There can also sometimes be greenish tints to the stone.
Synthetic and treated versions provide a much more affordable alternative if your heart is set on a blue diamond but find it beyond your budget.
Check here for a listing of blue diamonds on James Allen
Sapphire is the most popular blue gemstone, and possibly the most highly sought after colored gemstone for engagement rings. While blue is the most well-known sapphire color, which can be found in a range of colors.
Sapphire is made of corundum and becomes blue due to the presence of titanium and iron during its formation. It is second in hardness only to diamonds (Mohs 9) among natural gemstones used in jewelry. Sapphire is tougher than diamonds and is highly resistant to breaking and chipping. Blue sapphire with purplish tints are more desirable while those with greenish tints are not as valuable. Although blue sapphires are more affordable than diamonds, they can still be somewhat pricey. Synthetic versions of blue sapphire are much more affordable. Blue sapphire is a September birthstone and makes great gifts for those born in September.
The very word aquamarine refers to the sea-blue color of the stone. Aquamarine gemstones are known for their distinct pastel blue shades that evokes calmness and relaxation.
Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family, along with other gemstones such as emerald and morganite. It is a hard gemstone with a Mohs ranking of 7.5 to 8 and is generally found with very good clarity. It is quite a tough stone and is not prone to breakage.
Aquamarine has a vitreous luster and when faceted, reflects light well. Vivid deep blue stones are considered the most valuable. Most aquamarine gemstones on the market are heat treated to enhance the color of the stone but this is a common industry standard. Aquamarine is the birthstone of March. This gemstone is very good for daily wear and is quite durable.
Blue topaz is among the most popular of blue gemstones. Most topaz found in nature is colorless, and as a result is heat treated in order to produce the beautiful shades of blue topaz found on the market. The most expensive blue topaz varieties are London Blue, Sierra Blue and Swiss Blue, which are darker versions of the stone.
Blue topaz is generally very affordable, and is a good gemstone for jewelry due to its durability (8 Mohs). It is often free of visible inclusions and has a beautiful transparent luster.
Blue tourmaline comes in two varieties: Paraiba tourmaline and indicolite tourmaline. Pairaba tourmaline has a vivid, luminescent blue color while indicolite comes in light to dark shades of blue. Blue tourmaline in general is extremely rare and is found in small sizes, typically under one carat.
Most blue tourmaline comes with greenish tints, however pure blue stones are highly coveted and valuable. Blue tourmaline has a hardness rating of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale and is a durable, tough stone. With reasonable care, tourmaline jewelry can last a very long time. Tourmaline is the birthstone for October.
Blue zircon is among the most brilliant gemstones in the world and looks very similar to a blue diamond, exhibiting a comparable sparkle. Blue is the most popular zircon color and comes in shades ranging from a light pastel blue to darker vivid blue. Stones with vivid saturation are very rare and prized.
Blue zircon is not very hard, ranking at 6 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale. It is also a brittle stone and can get damaged or worn down over time, so it needs to be mounted in protective settings. Blue zircon is a December birthstone.
Note: Zircon should not be confused with cubic zirconia. Read Cubic zirconia vs. zircon for more information.
While garnets are popularly known to be red, they were found in every color except blue until 1998. So blue garnets are a very recent addition to the world of gemstones and are extremely rare. In fact, they are more a collector’s item as the rarity makes it difficult for jewelers to use the gemstone for mainstream jewelry making.
Blue garnets are similar to alexandrites in that they are color-changing gemstones. The stone can change color based on the light it is viewed under, morphing from blue-green to deep purple. This is due to the inclusion of vanadium in the stone.
Blue garnets rank 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale. They are fairly hard and durable. However, finding a blue garnet can be difficult as it is not a mainstream gemstone.
Tanzanite, so named after the country it was found in – Tanzania, is a very rare gemstone. The color of tanzanite can be very vivid and is easily confused for the more valuable sapphire. It is the blue-purple variety of zoisite. Tanzanite is only found in a small region at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro and it is estimated that the world’s primary tanzanite source will run out in the next few decades.
Tanzanite is often believed to be an underrated gemstone as it is as beautiful as more expensive blue gemstones but not as popular. It ranks at 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale and with good care can last a very long time. Tanzanite ranges from light blue to intense, vivid blue. Often, purple is a secondary color in tanzanite stones. Pure blue tanzanite with vivid saturation are the most desired.
Tanzanite is an excellent alternative to sapphires if budget is a concern.
Turquoise is a unique, stone that is easily identified and is the only gemstone with a color named after it. It is generally opaque and often contains dark vein-like inclusions, called matrix. While inclusion-free, pure blue turquoise is the most valuable and desired, turquoise with matrix is distinct and unique. Turquoise is formed when water seeps through mineral rich rocks, which sets of a chemical reaction. Over time, this slowly forms into the beautiful and unique looking gemstone.
Turquoise is quite a soft stone, ranking at 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale. It is also porous which makes it highly susceptible to breakage and damage when exposed to chemicals or rough wear. Turquoise jewelry needs to be given care and thought to maintain its luster and integrity.
Iolite can be found in many shades of blue and purple-blue, from pale to vivid. High quality iolite can rival stones such as sapphires and tanzanite in its beauty. However, because it is plentiful in nature, iolite is not highly valued. Iolite is a very brilliant stone and reflects light very well, especially when expertly cut.
Iolite ranks at 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale. This makes it a fairly hard stone, however it is not very tough due to its distinct cleavage. This makes it susceptible to breaking when exposed to knocks and bumps. Most iolite is transparent and has good clarity. Iolite also exhibits pleochroism, and can appear blue, purple-blue and yellowish simultaneously.
This is among the most popular blue gemstones and has been valued and used throughout history. The use of lapis lazuli in jewelry can be traced back several thousands of years. Lapis lazuli is found in beautiful shades of deep blue. Sometimes it can contain white marbling, due to inclusions in the stone, which makes for interesting and intriguing patterns on the stone.
Lapis lazuli (often simply called lapis) is composed of several types of minerals, with lazurite being the reason for the deep blue color. Lapis is an opaque stone and is often found with inclusions. It is not a very hard gemstone, ranking only 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale. However, with reasonable care, lapis jewelry can last a very long time.
Labradorite is known for its distinct iridescence and beautiful body color, set against a dark body tone. The gemstone comes in three distinct varieties, with some containing strong blue iridescent luster (known as schiller) and others displaying the entire spectrum of colors.
Labradorite is a plagioclase feldspar and displays its distinct labradorescence due to the way in which the rock is formed and the impurities within it. Most labradorites come in opaque to transparent varieties, although this last are quite rare and are not very desirable as they don’t display labradorescence.
Ranking at 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, is not very scratch resistant but is a fairly tough stone. Labradorite is durable enough to be used in jewelry.
Spinel is often called the great imposter of the jewelry world as it was confused for sapphires for many centuries. Spinel is made of magnesium aluminate and are found in the same mines as corundum varieties. Most blue spinel is eye-clean and exhibits brilliance and fire when expertly cut.
Although spinel is a very rare gemstone, and similar to sapphires in durability and beauty, it is not as valuable and can be found at affordable prices. Spinel is never treated or heated although it has been synthesized. Spinel ranks 8 on the Mohs scale and is a durable gemstone for everyday wear.
There are many blue gemstones out there. Here are some other blue gemstones that did not make our top 13 list:
Apatite, a beautiful translucent gemstone exhibiting a bluish-greenish hue.
Azurite, named for its azure color, is a deep blue gemstone with green secondary tones
Blue chalcedony, a compact form of quartz that has a vitreous luster and is found in a range of blue hues from pastel to vivid blue
Blue fluorite, made of calcium fluoride, is the rarest of fluorite varieties
Sodalite is mainly a deep rich blue but may contain gray tints.
When searching for your own piece of blue jewelry, you will be spoilt for choice! To help you pick the right stone for you, take into consideration why you are buying the stone. This will help you to focus on the priorities. Is durability your concern? Do you have a budget? Is it for a birthstone gift? Do you want a popular stone?
Take your search online as you will have more options than at physical stores. Not all the stones listed here of high demand so these may not be in stock in a typical jeweler’s store. Compare prices and always check the after-sales policies, in case you have any issues with your item. Don’t forget to purchase from an honest and reputed seller.
And finally, enjoy shopping for your very own blue gemstone!