Diamond and white sapphire are two of the most prized gemstones in the market. They resemble each other to such an extent that it is hard to tell the difference, unless observed closely. We shall check out the main differences between both these two gemstones.
Did You Know?
Both white sapphires and diamonds have their lab-created counterparts. These artificial gemstones are literally grown in labs around the world using several chemical processes. They almost exactly resemble their natural versions, and even lack their imperfections. Yet, they are valued lower in the gemstone market.
The story goes like this. Mr. X wanted to propose to Miss Y. He went to a jewelry store to buy a ring for her. He knew that she loved diamonds, but the diamond ring he liked was very costly. A white sapphire ring looked exactly the same, and was half the price. So he went ahead and bought it.
What will the conclusion of this story be? Well, it wouldn’t be easy to tell if you weren’t familiar with both these gemstones. In the following lines, we shall compare the white sapphire and diamond, and list out the similarities and differences between them. As a bonus, we will also tell you how the story of Mr. X and Miss Y concludes.
Diamonds are formed under immense amounts of pressures and temperatures, deep within the Earth’s surface. Typically, the process of formation takes place in the Earth’s mantle. From time to time, the pressure of hot gases within the mantle causes the molten magma to rise up to the surface. If during such a rise the magma passes through a region with diamond rock formations, they are swept with it and carried to the upper layers. Over millions of years, the surface layers get eroded, finally exposing the diamonds. In their initial form, diamonds appear like just plain rocks. It is only after a lot of processing and polishing that the final lustrous gemstone is born.
Sapphires are formed during the metamorphosis of rocks and minerals, which also takes place deep below the Earth’s surface. The extreme temperature and pressure there causes rocks and minerals to change form into liquid magma. During earth shifts, this molten magma cools down, resulting in recrystallization of the minerals dissolved in it, which finally leads to the formation of different-colored sapphires. White sapphires, in particular, are formed during the metamorphic recrystallization of minerals dissolved in igneous rocks.
Structure and Composition
Diamonds are a metastable allotrope of carbon. In them, the carbon atoms are arranged in a face-centered cubic-crystalline structure, known as diamond lattice. There exists a strong covalent bond between these atoms. This makes diamond the hardest as well as the most thermally conductive material in the world. Diamonds are rated 10 (hardest) on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. The most sought-after diamonds are the colorless ones. They are completely free of impurities, and are made of pure carbon atoms.
Sapphire are a type of the mineral ‘corundum’, which is an aluminum oxide. Their structure comprises hexagonal crystals of corundum, which makes them extremely hard. In fact, after diamonds, sapphires are the second hardest gemstones on Earth, being rated 9 on the Mohs scale. Trace elements such iron, copper, titanium, chromium, etc., present in their structures give sapphires their different colors, including blue, green, orange, purple, etc. White sapphire is the only one which has no trace element, and is thus considered pure.
Cutting and Shaping
Cutting is the process of shaping a gemstone so that its brilliance and beauty is highlighted. Both diamonds and white sapphires require to be cut in an entirely different manner, so as to emphasize their individual characteristics.
Diamonds, in their crude form, are either octahedral, rhombic, cubic, or mackle in shape. Sharp cuts are made on them in an attempt to maximize the angle of refraction, while at the same time focusing on increasing their transparency. The different styles of diamond cutting include brilliant cut, step cut, rose cut, and mixed cut. Of these, the brilliant cut is the sharpest, and hence also the most noticeable.
Sapphires naturally occur in barrel, tabloid, or double hexagonal shapes. With it, the focus of the cutters is to enhance the whiteness and to maximize the limited refraction capability of the gemstone. Another important point that takes priority while cutting a white sapphire is minimizing the exhibition of its natural imperfections. Known as natural inclusions, these imperfections appear on the stone at the time of its formation. While cutting, the point of focus is to hide these inclusions, and in most white sapphires, this is so finely done that these imperfections become invisible to the naked eye.
Brilliance and Illumination
Though the glow of a gemstone may seem heavenly, there is solid science behind the phenomenon. It is the result of refraction of light. When light travels through a gemstone, its internal structure and composition causes the light waves to bend at angles. This causes it to glitter and shine.
The structure of diamonds allows them to refract a considerably larger amount of light as compared to white sapphire. As such, they shine more brilliantly and display more colors, in comparison.
Colored diamonds are rare, and very few deposits are found across the world. Colorless diamonds are the most common, while brown, yellow, and red, are rare to get a hold of, and are therefore also known as ‘fancy diamonds’. A ‘D to Z’ color grading system is used to classify colorless diamonds, with the completely colorless diamonds being graded D, while the yellowish ones being graded Z. This system, however, doesn’t apply to colored diamonds.
Sapphires are mostly valued for the multitude of colors that they are found in. These include various shades and hues of blue, green, yellow, orange brown, white, etc. White sapphire is considered to be the purest form, and is therefore significantly higher valued.
Test of Time
Take for example a wedding ring. It is something that one wears all day and everyday. Thus, over time, it is bound to accumulate dirt, and lose its original luster and shine. Both diamonds and white sapphires are extensively used in jewelry items, including wedding rings.
Diamonds originally are more brilliant in comparison to white sapphire. Even when they get dirty, they still retain more of their original shine. So, they don’t require very frequent maintenance.
Sapphires, on the other hand, display less refraction, and are thus less luminous to begin with. After a period of time, the accumulated dust and dirt takes away their already less luster, with the effect being that they appear like a cloudy piece of glass. Hence, to keep up their shine, they require more frequent polishing and maintenance.
In astrology, both diamonds and white sapphire are associated with the planet Venus. Venus is considered as symbolizing love, beauty, and sensuality. Thus, wearing of either of these gemstones is said to impart these beneficial qualities in a person’s life. Many astrologers opine that, to obtain the benefits of the same value as those bestowed by a 1-carat diamond, one would be required to wear at least a 2- to 3-carat white sapphire.
Both diamonds and sapphires come from the bosom of the Earth, and take millions of years to be formed. As such, both these gemstones are priceless. However, in the market, demand is what decides the price of a gemstone.
Diamonds owing to their greater brilliance, clarity, and shine, are more in demand, and are thus more pricier in comparison to sapphires of the same weight. Typically, a finely-cut diamond of the same weight can be about 30 times costlier than a sapphire. But then again, it all depends on the quality of the particular stone in question. Some rare white sapphires are more valued, and thus, priced a lot higher than the others are.
Many white sapphires are crafted to resemble diamonds, but the fact remains that they are two distinct gemstones. If one knows where to look and what to look for, he/she can instantly tell the difference between the two. Which brings us to the conclusion of our story – Miss Y found out that Mr. X had cheated her of the diamond ring, and stormed away in anger, leaving Mr. X to ponder over his misdoing!
It is clear that in a ‘white sapphire vs. diamond’ one-on-one comparison, diamond is clearly the winner, and hence it is costlier. But that is not to say that white sapphire is worth marbles! They are much-valued and beautiful gemstones, and if your Miss Y likes them, then you can propose to her with one of the several gorgeous white sapphire rings available.