Phenomenon Resembling Play-of-Color in Sapphire
A phenomenon resembling play-of-color was seen in a 4.13 ct unheated sapphire recently examined by the author. When tilted in darkfield lighting (watch the video below), the sapphire displayed this noteworthy effect, which is most commonly seen in precious opal. It occurred within a small section of a single fine, milky cloud with an unusual shape (figure 1, left). The cloud also possessed extensive transparent graining confined within its borders, best seen in brightfield illumination (figure 1, right).
Some regions of the cloud displayed an appearance of rainbow graining with spectral colors confined to the linear grain lines and looked one-dimensional. Other regions, however, expressed a soft billowy broad flash of altering colors with diffuse edges resembling play-of-color and did not follow linear grain lines (figure 2). Play-of-color in opal is defined as a display of spectral colors due to the diffraction of light as it passes through organized, submicroscopic spherical particles. It is possible that the combination of fine milky particles and abundant transparent graining within the cloud were able to diffract light in a way that resembles play-of-color.