White Sapphire vs Diamonds: An Expert Analysis

The answer to the question of what is the top gemstone in the world may seem like a settled question. As diamonds have long held the position as the most sought after stone in the making of fine jewellery, and as precious gemstones in general. However, over the years, sapphires have provided a strong challenge to the dominance of diamonds, notably the white sapphire variant which seems to match diamonds stride for stride in the gemstone quality scales. Here we will outline the key characteristics of white sapphires and diamonds, and break down their strengths and weakness on how they contrast with one another and will help you decide on what is the right gemstone for you.

The Mineral Character of White Sapphires and Diamonds

Natural white sapphire is a colourless variant of corundum mineral and it is also the purest form of corundum. Since sapphires are predominantly coloured gemstones, the colourless ones are a rarer, more distinct variety. Whilst sapphires are found in a number of countries, significant sapphire deposits are found in places like Australia, Cambodia, and parts of Kenya, Cameroon, Madagascar, and Tanzania in Africa. The top locations for quality sapphires today are countries like Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Sapphires are predominantly mined from alluvial deposits (loose sand and gravel, that result from running water- which is why most sapphires are mined from regions close to water). Diamonds on the other hand are found in a fewer number of countries, with major diamond exporters like South Africa, Russia, Australia, Canada and Botswana leading the way. Diamonds are carbon-based gemstones and are the hardest naturally occurring minerals in the world. Diamonds from deep within the earth’s surface and are brought to the surface by volcanic activity, and the mining processes involved are far more complex and larger in scale. Diamonds are also known for their industrial applications, which take advantage of the hardness and durability of the stone. Diamonds used in the making of gemstones are known for their purity.

Purity in Colourless Diamonds

Diamonds are valued for their colourlessness. Unless we are talking about coloured diamonds, also known as fancy coloured diamonds, which form a separate category in this gemstone range. Gem quality diamonds are the colourless ones, which do not contain impurities such as nitrogen and boron, that exist as inclusions in the stone. These impurities and inclusions become part of the stone’s mineral character over millions of years in a high-pressure environment in which they are formed beneath the earth’s surface. According to experts, a diamond that is chemically pure has no yellowish hue, as it is devoid of gas like impurities, and is viewed as being higher in value.

Characteristics of White Sapphires and Diamonds

White Sapphires




Refractive Index- 1.762-1.788



Refractive Index- 2.417 – 2.419


Gravity- 3.95-4.03



Gravity- 3.52


Mohs Scale Hardness 9.0



Mohs Scale Hardness 10.0


Lustre- Vitreous to Adamantine


Lustre- Adamantine


Fire – 0.018



Fire Diamond – 0.044

Determinants of Diamond and White Sapphire Value: The 4Cs + 1

Diamonds and sapphires as precious gemstones are valued for their rarity and beauty. In the world of gemstones, particularly in the making of fine jewellery, there exist standards that seek to differentiate high-quality diamonds and sapphires from the rest. In contrasting the strengths and weaknesses of white sapphires and diamonds, the framework that exists for measuring quality in diamonds: known as the 4Cs is also applicable for the world of sapphires. Here is a breakdown of the 4Cs of diamonds in relation to corundum gemstones, key factors to consider in the debate on white sapphire vs diamonds: 


Carat is the weight of the precious stone diamond. A single carat = 1/5 of a gram. The weight or carat of a diamond is a key factor that determines its cost. In a technical sense, a single carat is divided into 100 equal points and a single carat diamond (i.e. that has 100 points) diamond as it is regarded the best. Interestingly, even if go down by a single point (e.g. a diamond with a weight of 0.99 carats) that will push down the value and price of the gemstone. In sapphires, which are generally more abundant in nature, and the principle is always that bigger is always better. The carat, whilst a significant factor, its importance functions strongly in correlation with its colour. Which shall see next.


In diamonds, colour is the fundamental factor. As they are recognised as the main colourless gemstone. However in the industry, not all diamonds are completely colourless, and the colourlessness exists on a scale. Diamonds that fall into the D - F range are considered to be “colourless” and more valuable than others and thus makes them very expensive. Diamonds that go further(e.g. G – Z) contain increasing levels of yellowish to a darker hue, which whilst containing a degree of sparkle, but also shine with a stronger colour tone. Which correlates to a lower price. A related factor in the equation in the colour of diamonds is its fluorescence: which refers to the gemstone’s ability to emit a light bluish glow when subjected to ultraviolet light, which is caused by the presence of boron trace elements. Fluorescence is an important factor in determining diamond value. Whilst generally viewed as a negative, fluorescence is at times viewed as a positive. In sapphires, colour is value for its rarity: with the blue, and pink sapphires holding sway. However white sapphires stand apart for the absence of colour, which corresponds to the lack of external impurities like trace elements. The colour in sapphire corresponds to its carat, for it is a function of rough stone and the cutting it has been subjected to.


Diamonds are formed within the earth, under immense heat and pressure, and when they are mined, they carry inclusions and blemishes. The same principle broadly applies to sapphires as well. Clarity relates to the absence of such imperfections in the gemstone, that is present in diamonds and white sapphires. Diamond clarity is rated from 01-11 point scale, going from Flawless to I3. With Flawless being the rarest and the most expensive. In white sapphires and sapphires in general there is no clear standard for measuring clarity. However independent jewellers do provide reports that study gemstone clarity, and it is important that customers request this if they require an official standard. In the jewellery industry, sapphires that have the highest clarity command the highest prices.


The cut is a key characteristic of the diamond, as it affects how the light that enters into the diamond reflects back to the eyes of the observer. A well-cut diamond is able to reflect light better than a poorly cut one. Diamond cuts are found in a number of types: Princess cut, Round Brilliant cut, Cushion cut etc. In addition, diamonds are found in various levels: Deep, Shallow and Ideal. In the world of sapphires, the lines are not exactly clear cut. Diamonds are the kings in the world of gemstone cutting. Being the harder material, cut diamonds do better during the shaping process of the gemstone. Further, the quality of the cut will also differ based on the gemstone, which is especially applied to sapphires. Since the colour in the crystal needs to persevere in relation to the need to minimise impurities, which affects its final price.


Sapphire curing or the treatment of sapphires is about the various ways in which sapphire qualities are improved through artificial processes. With the heating of sapphires being the dominant method of sapphire treatment. Sapphires are often subjected to heat treatment to increase clarity and colour. Usually at over 1500 degrees Celsius. These treatments are generally carried to improve the colour and other characteristics of corundum gemstone. When it comes to colourless or white gemstones like white sapphires, upon heating the silk dissolves and increases the clarity of the stone. Heat procedure can change a lightly coloured blue sapphire into a darker one and vice versa. Diamonds in the gemstone world are not subjected to heat treatment, how such practices are common in the industrial world.

Why Diamonds are More expensive than White Sapphires?

The simple answer is the higher global demand for diamonds and the rarity of large carat diamonds that meet the high standards of fine jewellery. This is despite the fact that sapphires are rarer than diamonds. With white sapphire being even more special. Despite sapphires being rarer than diamonds, their prices differ, as the price of a commodity is subjected to the supply and demand in the market. The higher demand and the controlled supply of diamonds make the diamonds more expensive. Diamonds and sapphires are very hard materials, in the Moh's scale diamonds are rated as 10 and sapphire is rated as 09, making them both scratch-resistant. However, this scale is not a linear scale and the absolute hardness of a diamond is very very higher in contrast to sapphires. A difference that is very relevant in certain scientific applications more so than in jewellery.

So a top-quality diamond will always have a better brilliance, fire and scintillation compared to a top-quality white sapphire gemstone. But if the size and price is fixed you can get a better white sapphire gemstone. For example, 1ct 6.5mm M Colour SI diamond is about 3-4K dollars. And if you want to get a 1ct white sapphire and are willing to spend the same money, you can get a much superior looking white sapphire.

Another important visual difference is that when the colour grade lowers, diamonds turn into yellowish or brownish colours (See the GIA colour chart below). As noted, no such standard exists for sapphires, however, sapphires can vary in terms of their translucent, milky, cloudy, or silky character. And the brightness could be really impacted by those factors. However, good quality white sapphires are very transparent and cannot be distinguished from a diamond by an ordinary person.

How to Choose between White Sapphires and Diamonds

If you decided that you want to have a colourless gemstone in your engagement ring but are not sure whether it would be a diamond or sapphire here’s a summary of expert advice for you. When it comes to deciding on the question of white sapphire vs Diamond, there are several ways to arrive at a decision. A simple task is to take the example of a solitaire engagement ring. The size of the centre diamond will depend on your budget. A 5mm 0.5ct G Colour VVS diamond alone would cost you 2-3K dollars whereas a 6.5mm 1ct G Colour VVS diamond will cost around 10K dollars. But, if you are flexible and want to consider white sapphires, the same quality 0.5ct white sapphire will cost 1/3 of the diamond and the same quality 1ct white sapphire will only cost you 1/6 of the diamond.

Here, you have two good choices; one: pay a lot of money and buy a good size diamond ring; whilst, we do not recommend going for a diamond less than half a carat in a solitaire setting. Or two: get a better-looking ring with a bigger white sapphire stone for a much lower price. We believe that a ring with a good size gemstone is always beautiful than a ring where the gemstone was undersized to lower the budget. Now there are two obvious questions here. First, why there is such a huge price gap. And the second question is how good a sapphire ring will look compared to a diamond ring. The answer is that a single carat diamond is far more expensive than a comparable sapphire, white sapphire or other, and it is in much higher demand. You can save money by getting a diamond with a weight lower than one carat, and for a much lower price. Or on the other, you can get a very high-quality white sapphire for the price of a single carat diamond.

Meaning of White Sapphires and White Diamonds

If one wishes to know the origins of this particular variety of corundum of gemstone, it may interest you to know that white sapphire was discovered in ancient Greece. The ancient Greeks were believed to have discovered the white sapphire on the island of Naxos, and the gemstone is associated with Apollo, the god of light and sun, of truth and the arts, of medicine and music. White Sapphires, and their colour, has always been associated with qualities like freedom justice, and purity. And white sapphires are believed to brings these attributes to the wearer. Diamonds are gemstones that characterise strength, endurance and beauty. For the wearer, the diamond communicates strength in face of adversity, and as a source of healing. So there you have it, the comparison between two top ‘colourless’ gemstones in the industry; whilst the debate on white sapphire vs diamonds is not over, this study will hopefully give you a head start. 

Rafael Green

Alice Carter

Alice is a fashion blogger based on Melbourne Australia. She loves travel, food, and often show up in fashion talk shows as well as in famous jewellery shows and exhibits.

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