Exploring the Australian Sapphire Colour Chart & Grading System

Australia is a main player in the world’s production of sapphires. As a country famous for ethically sourced, high-quality sapphires, gemmologists and buyers come from far and wide to add Australian sapphires to their collections.

And, when the Australian sapphire grading system isn’t so straightforward, the colour chart of these precious gems becomes integral to every purchase.

The Australian Sapphire colour chart

When you buy sapphire jewellery, the colour of the gem is usually the cincher.

Gemmologists use a grading system to assess the different hues within each sapphire colour. So, the broad colour range of Australian sapphires includes blue, green, yellow, teal, parti, orange and colourless. Within those categories, each colour is broken up by a spectrum of shades. For example, green becomes the umbrella term for yellowish green, light green, green and deep green.

Our Australian sapphire grading system

Australian sapphire grading isn’t as uniform as the standardised grading used in diamonds. 

The characteristics of colour - such as tone, saturation and purity - are the primary focus when it comes to sapphires. Plus, people interpret colour in different ways, making a standardised grading system even harder to pin down. Across the world, sapphires do vary extensively in colour, this also creates some confusion in terms of a set in stone colour chart - hence our colour chart exclusively grading Australian sapphires.

Because there’s no one sapphire grading system everyone agrees on, colour becomes the most important quality marker. 

What grading system do we use at Sapphire Dreams

There are no set systems to grade sapphires (like how the GIA grades diamonds) but at Sapphire Dreams, we tend to pass on some characteristics of diamond grading to sapphires.

For example, we’ll look at cut in a similar way to a diamond. You can still buy round-cut sapphires or princess-cut sapphires.

Our gemmologists are very experienced in the examination of sapphires, and we assess their value in the following order:

1. Colour (intensity and colour profile)

2. Carat

3. Shape

4. Cut 

5. Clarity

Colour Varieties in Australian sapphires

From iconic hues to rare gems 

Think of a sapphire and you’ll probably think of the colour blue. That’s because 90% of Australian sapphires are blue. We can thank the higher iron content in locally-sourced sapphires compared to those found in Burma, Sri Lanka and Tanzania, for the rich, royal shade we’re used to.

Despite blue being the somewhat iconic colour in the Australian market, sapphires come in almost every colour of the spectrum - some being much rarer than others. Aside from the blue majority, Australian sapphires have a green & yellow dominated profile compared to other countries.

At Sapphire Dreams, we’re driven by introducing our customers to a much wider range of colours. 

Although blue sapphires are the most commonly found in Australia, their intense, beautiful colours mean they remain in high demand and carry a premium price tag.

Blue sapphires evoke feelings of royalty, and many people can recall Princess Diana’s show-stopping sapphire engagement ring.

The blue category of sapphires includes hues that range from deep blue to blue, light blue and blueish teal.

While pink, purple and mauve sapphires are the rarest, parti sapphires are also very uncommon and worth a moment in this guide.

Parti sapphires carry unique colour compositions that give them a distinctive beauty. They showcase a banding of colours (usually green, blue and yellow). These colours don’t blend together, creating an ombre effect and making each stone one-of-a-kind.

Assessing Quality: Beyond colour

Earth's natural creations

Australia has a proud reputation for high-quality sapphires. Compared to stones from other regions, Australian sapphires are naturally more saturated. Stones from countries such as Sri Lanka have to undergo treatment to achieve the rich colour the Australian sapphire colour chart is famous for.

As mentioned, colour is the number one quality assessment, but there are other things we at Sapphire Dreams look for when making sure a stone is suitable for our sapphire jewellery. And, while clarity, cut and carat weight aren’t standardised grading factors, they can come into play when assessing the quality of a sapphire.

Every sapphire at Sapphire Dreams is considered at least eye clean, meaning the majority are high quality with little to no inclusions, and those that do have inclusions cannot be seen with the naked eye.


Some inclusions come with the territory of natural gemstones, but fewer inclusions is a sign of a higher-value sapphire. 

Inclusions that impact the lustre of a sapphire lower its value. So, look for sapphires with minimal inclusions and maximum sparkle.


We don’t recommend grading a sapphire on cut alone, largely because the nature of a sapphire makes precision cuts difficult.

However, the way a sapphire is faceted and polished from its rough state contributes to its brilliance and symmetry. This paints a partial picture of what makes a quality sapphire. 


Larger gemstones are typically harder to come by and are therefore higher in value.

The impact of weight on price does vary between colours, mostly because rare colours in large stones are even harder to come by.

Ethical sourcing & mining practices

There’s a growing demand for ethically mined gemstones. The good news is you can buy locally in the knowledge that Australia follows ethical mining practices.

The government monitors sourcing and mining practices closely to make sure they’re environmentally friendly and aligned with worker laws. The well-being of people and the land is considered at every stage, and there are processes in place to help the environment return to its previous state.

With strict laws regulating the industry, buying Australian sapphires is an attractive option to any ethically-minded person.

Buying Australian sapphires: Tips & considerations

Value is in the eye of the beholder.

For some of our customers, buying a sapphire is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Whether you’re searching for your first sapphire, or you’re an aficionado looking to enhance your collection, this advice should help you land on the perfect stone.

1. Start with the colour you’re most drawn to. Sounds simple, but remember you might wear this sapphire, so forget the science for a moment and choose the colour you like best.

2. Consider clarity, cut and carat weight, while remembering this isn’t a standardised grading system. The Cs are less important when buying sapphires compared to diamonds, but they can’t hurt during quality assessments.

3. Buy Australian sapphires only. You can be confident they’re sourced ethically and are naturally beautiful.

4. Verifying the authenticity of sapphires starts by confirming that the crystal is actually a sapphire. A seasoned gemologist can run tests to determine its molecular profile. When it comes to provenance, you’ll have to send the stone to a lab for deeper testing. 

5. While these tests are somewhat scientific, there is guesswork involved, since there’s no concrete way to confirm the item’s provenance based on its chemistry. Here at Sapphire Dreams, we buy the rough straight from the mines in NSW or QLD, so we’ve taken a lot of guesswork out of that equation. We know we’re working with Australian sapphires because we’ve seen them come straight from the ground.

6. Remember that valuing sapphires is a complex process. Everyone has a different idea of what a sapphire should look like: Some go for lighter hues; others prefer yellows. The best way to find an heirloom-quality sapphire is to see how they sparkle. Australian sapphires exude colours differently in different forms of lighting, so as long as it’s cut well, it should sparkle and bring value to the eye of the beholder.

6. Cut, carat, shape and clarity are already relative in pricing. We price sapphires according to our price lists, but we don’t fully take the way they sparkle (the cut) into account. You could find one sapphire that’s a bit dull with the same price tag as another that’s more brilliant.

Assess the beauty of sapphires for yourself

Although intuition plays a massive part in choosing the right sapphire, some knowledge of the Australian sapphire colour chart and grading system creates a foundation for your decision.

To really appreciate the beauty of these gemstones, we invite you to visit Sapphire Dreams. We’d love to show you around our showroom and explain one-on-one how you can spot a truly stunning, valuable sapphire.

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