As Jewelry Shopping Guide editors, we write about things that we love and we think you’ll like too. We often have affiliate partnerships, and may generate some revenue from these links at no cost to you.
One of the most popular stones that come in pink is the pink diamond. Exuding elegance, femininity and modernity, many ladies of the millennial generation covet this stone. While everyone may want it, not everyone can afford it. That is why alternatives ranging from diamonds treated in laboratories to stones made of completely different material are now being considered.
Among the list of competitors for pink diamond is the pink sapphire. Beautiful in its own right, pink sapphires come in a variety of shades and are an eye-catching addition to any piece of jewelry.
But how exactly are they similar to diamonds? How are they different? And should you buy a pink sapphire over a pink diamond?
What are Pink Diamonds?
Before we dive into the discussion of the similarities and differences of pink diamonds and sapphires, we must first to get to know these stones.
Pink diamond is a member of the fancy colored group of the diamond family. Pink diamonds usually come in a single muted shade of pink, but sometimes they have secondary colors such as purple, brown and orange. They are made of carbon just like colorless diamonds.
A stunning pink diamond. See it here.
It is not clear though what causes diamonds to acquire the shade of pink but the strongest argument is that these diamonds undergo more pressure in their formation stage below the earth than colorless ones. They are notably one of the most popular in the fancy colored group, perhaps second to red diamond. It is also one of the rarest, making them extremely expensive and hard to come by.
What are Pink Sapphires?
Pink sapphires are made of corundum, an element that makes up sapphire and ruby. These sapphires contain traces of chromium, giving the crystal a pinkish purplish shade.
If the stone contains very high chromium concentration, they will appear red and fall under the category of ruby (the only type of corundum not classified as a sapphire). Lower chromium content produces pink sapphires.
Like pink diamonds, pink sapphires are one of the most popular in its group. They are very rare considering other gemstone varieties, but not as rare as the elusive pink diamond.
Pink Diamond vs. Pink Sapphire
Pink sapphire is the most popular substitute for pink diamond. This is because of their close similarities in terms of color, hardness and use. Many people think diamonds and sapphires are almost alike but they are actually very different. Below are the most notable differences between diamonds and sapphires that may help you decide which stone to buy.
Pink Diamond vs. Pink Sapphire – Color
Both pink diamonds and pink sapphires come in a variety of shades. However, while pink diamonds can often have a secondary color, corundum classified as pink sapphires come only in a single color. The shade of pink sapphires is generally brighter than those of pink diamonds.
Check out the two screenshots below, each showing a random listing of pink sapphires and pink diamonds taken from the James Allen website. Although classified as ‘pink’ these stones come in a variety of shades and hues. Also notice the difference in price.
Random listing of pink sapphires.
Determining the value of a pink sapphire based on its color is quite straightforward. The more vivid the pink color is, the higher the value. The most sought after pink sapphires comes in a very bright shade called “hot pink”. And of course, because of this demand, they are also more expensive than paler sapphires. However, of late there has been an increase in the popularity of more muted pinks.
Grading a diamond’s color is a little bit more complex. For pink diamonds that come in single straightforward shades of pink, you may apply the general rule: the deeper the color, the more valuable the stone.
However, determining its value becomes more complicated when secondary colors come into play. The value of the diamond will now also depend on the rarity of the secondary color.
For example, if a pink diamond’s secondary color is brown, which is considered the least expensive color among diamonds, it is less valuable than when pink diamonds have a purple or orange secondary color. This is because a brown diamonds are more commonly found and considered less attractive.
Pink Diamond vs. Pink Sapphire – Durability
Pink diamond and pink sapphire are both durable stones. They do not scratch easily compared with other gems and are suitable for long-term use – the very reason why they are perfect for engagement rings.
They have a natural brilliance on their own without the consistent need of polishing. And if you did want to polish them often, they can withstand the frequency of such polishing.
Obviously, pink diamond is the harder substance of the two. On the Mohs scale of hardness, diamond ranks 10, making it the hardest among all precious stones. Corundum, which is what sapphire is made of, only ranks 9. Since the Mohs scale is not linear, this ranking means that diamonds are three to four times harder than a sapphire.
But what does it mean for your jewelry? This means that sapphire is more prone to scratching and abrasion than diamonds. Diamonds can scratch a sapphire, but only another diamond can scratch a diamond.
The diamond’s hardness comes with a downside however. It makes the diamond more brittle. While a sapphire would require more frequent polishing and sometimes re-cutting due to scratching and abrasions, diamonds are more prone to chipping, a damage that is very difficult and more costly to repair. So while diamonds may be hard, sapphires are the tougher of the two.
Pink Diamond vs. Pink Sapphire – Comparing Price
Speaking of price, pink sapphires are generally less expensive than pink diamonds due to a number of factors including rarity and durability which we have mentioned above. Some exceptional sapphires with excellent color or high clarity can be more valuable than a diamond with poor quality. There are many factors that can affect a stone’s value.
The Gemological Institute of America coined the term 4C’s that stand for the four basic characteristics of a gemstone – color, clarity, carat and cut.
Clarity – This refers to the transparency and the level of inclusions in the gemstone. The higher the clarity, the more expensive the gemstone. With pink diamonds, we tend to be more forgiving towards flaws as it is very difficult to find pink diamonds, let alone pink diamonds with perfect clarity. Pink sapphires generally have fewer inclusions.
Cut and Carat on the other hand play important roles. Cutting a colorless diamond is aimed at maximizing the luster. They tend to have wider crowns with smaller/pointed bases we call “pavilions”. On the other hand, colored gems, such as pink diamonds and sapphires are cut to maximize their color. Cutters retain as much of their size as possible and their crowns are smaller with wider pavilions. This type of cut enhances the sapphire’s color.
When deciding on the carat weight, you want to consider selecting your gemstone based on size rather than carat weight. Because corundum is denser than diamond, a pink sapphire of the same carat weight as diamond would appear smaller.
If keeping to a budget is important to you, then you have the option of choosing a lab-created (also called synthetic, man-made, created and cultured) diamond or sapphire. A synthetic diamond will still be quite pricey but much more affordable than its natural counterpart. In the same way, a lab-created sapphire will allow you to cut down on the price while not compromising on quality.
Lab-grown stones, as the name suggests, are grown inside a laboratory. Such labs simulate the process which natural stones go through under the earth, but only for a short amount of time and under specifically controlled conditions. Apart from the fact that they were grown in a lab, they are similar to natural stones in all aspects. It takes an expert with tools to tell the difference between synthetic and natural diamonds or sapphires.
Another option is to choose a treated or enhanced stone. Here, a colorless diamond or sapphire undergoes various treatments using heat and irradiation to give the stone the desired color. These are actual diamonds and sapphires, with the only difference being that the color is forced into them. The disadvantage of these treatments is that the colors could fade over time when the stone is exposed to intense heat and light.
Pink Diamond vs. pink sapphire for Engagement Rings
Diamonds are usually the go to choice for engagement rings for apparent reasons – durability, rarity and its unrivalled brilliance. With the millennial pink color now trending in the market, pink diamonds have increasingly become more popular than other diamonds.
However, not everyone can afford them. This is one reason for the substantial turn of preference toward pink sapphires. In addition to it being cheaper, pink sapphires usually come in bolder shades of pink, allowing the wearer to stand out.
Pink Diamond vs. Pink Sapphire – Symbolism
In the context of gemstone significance, pink diamonds mean femininity, fertility and love. They are also associated with joy and romance. The soft shade of a pink diamond represents emotional stability and trust with one’s partner. Pink sapphires on the other hand are brighter and associated with passion.
For crystal healers, pink sapphires are perfect for psychic stability. Because the hot pink defies the tradition of white engagement rings, it represents the sense of embracing change, going with intuition and creativity, flowing with the current of things we cannot control.
Since pink sapphires have a more expressive color in them, many ladies opt for pink sapphires instead of diamonds for the purpose of standing out. Pink sapphire is a bolder version of pink diamond and radiates more passion and adventure, allowing them to stand out among the gentler, more muted color that defines the millennial generation.
So what’s the final verdict on the two stones? Obviously pink diamonds have more value and are more desired, but due to their high price and rarity, pink sapphires make a great alternative. If your heart is set on a pink diamond and nothing else will do, then consider a synthetic diamond if you cannot find one within your budget. If you are after the color and the appearance, then a pink sapphire is just as gorgeous.