The highest quality sapphires are graded by their blue or violet-blue hue. Though sapphires are most frequently found in blue, they also come in every color but red. Red sapphires are actually rubies. The deep blue color comes from trace minerals, iron and titanium. Like all color gemstones, sapphires often contain fractures called inclusions. Flawless sapphires are rare and high valued by collectors, and even other expensive sapphires include some fractures. The darker the sapphire’s color, the less obvious are the inclusions.When shopping for sapphires, look for sapphires that are lightly- to moderately-included and have a medium to medium-dark color.

The most valuable sapphires have a pure color or only “slight” variations of other colors. Like emeralds and rubies, sapphires are described as “light,” “medium-light,” “medium,” “medium-dark,” and “dark.” Though higher clarity levels are more common with sapphires than with rubies and emeralds, internally flawless sapphires are very rare and command extravagant prices. Since sapphires generally include some fractures, look for a sapphire with a darker color, as the inclusions will be effectively hidden in these darker gems.