The Differences between Cornflower Blue and Royal Blue Sapphires


Each of the sapphires would have to be judged on their visual appearance. Cornflower Sapphires and Royal Blue Sapphires are considered top-quality amongst other blue sapphires, and they can both be equally expensive and highly sought after.

Sapphires’ blue hue reflects the sky’s every shade from blazing afternoon to velvety midnight. Color is the major determinant of a blue sapphire’s value. Iron and titanium are the trace elements that contribute to its blue hue. Just a hint of those elements can convert a pure colorless sapphire into its blue nature, and the more the iron, the darker the blue.

Shades of Sapphires
Figure 1: Color range of Blue Sapphire

Given sapphire’s status as one of the popular gemstones, the trade has come up with unique names to portray the stone’s color such as cornflower blue and royal blue. However, judging its color is more than what meets the eye.

Apart from hue, it involves tone and saturation as well. Based on three main components of color: Hue, Tone, and Saturation. We will get a better understanding of the difference between cornflower and royal blue.

Hue: the basic impression of a color. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, purple are the basic hues. Straight forward enough at first glance, both types of blue carry the same hue, the blue.

Hue can be further dissected into its primary and modifier colors. The primary color for sapphires is blue, and modifier colors are the second impression of color. Often, ‘slightly’ or ‘strong’ are the main terms to describe the strength of the modifier. For instance, if a blue sapphire contains a hint of violet, it would be termed as ‘slightly violetish-blue’.

Cornflower Blue Sapphires can often be seen in lighter hue of blue and possess a tint of violet due to its lighter tone. Whereas, Royal Blue Sapphires can be found in full vivid blue tone.

Tone: the brightness and darkness of the hue. The tone of the color is scaled from 2 to 8, with 2 being “very light” and 8 being “very dark”.

Colour Tone Scale
Figure 2: Color Tone Scale

Cornflower blue sapphires derived its name from the color of the cornflower. As shown in the photo (Photo 3) below, the Cornflower Sapphires are scaled along 2-5 on the color tone scale, have a range of light to medium tone. The tone is calming and pleasing to the eye. It is hard not to say that the cornflower sapphires attract admirers like bees to the flowers.

cornflower, colour of sapphires
Figure 3: A Cornflower

On the other hand, the royal blue sapphires are scaled along 6-8 on the color tone scale, have a range of medium-dark to dark tones. The deep dark tone of blue may look almost black. Kashmir sapphires, one of the rarest precious sapphires, possess a ‘true’ blue tone, with a velvety touch that no other localities can match.

Saturation: the hue’s intensity. Saturation is considered the most important factor that determines the price of the sapphire. For example for Cornflower Sapphires, those in low saturation may look like faint blue with a hint of violet; whereas those in low saturated colours may look like vibrant violet. For both cornflower and royal blue, saturation should be at least strong to vivid range to be valued as high quality gemstones. 

Royal blue sapphires, with vivid blue saturation, would suit someone who prefers a bold vibrant style. Whereas, cornflower blue sapphires, with light to medium blue saturation, would be more preferred by someone who prefers a more soothing style.

The beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Both types of blue have their beauty properties to be appreciated. It is important that you choose your ideal color of sapphire based on these 3 criteria, Hue, Tone and Saturation.

The best way to know which colour you best suit you is by looking at a wide selection of sapphires to make a comparison. Light plays an important factor when selecting a sapphire, so observe the gemstone’s colour in different lighting conditions.

Additionally, ask your jeweller, if the sapphire has a certificate. Because for a sapphire to be considered cornflower blue or royal blue, it should always be first certified by a reputable laboratory. Major laboratories such as Gubelin, GIA and SSEF apply very strict policies when it comes to the use of trade colour terms. These laboratories produce report for sapphires which describes the colour hue, modifier and saturation of the gemstone. The trade name ‘royal blue’ is only given for sapphires that match quality criteria that are set by the laboratory.

At the showroom of The King’s Bespoke, you can find a wide range of Blue Sapphires: https://www.fareastgemsjewellery.com/collections/all-gemstones/blue-sapphire

If you are interested in creating a blue sapphire bespoke jewellery, you may fill up the enquiry form to book an appointment with us.

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About the author 

Florence Fang

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