History and Legends of Sapphire
Sapphires, known as the fraternal twin to the ruby, have been prized as great gemstones dating back to 800 BC. As America’s number-one selling gem, they are the most widely recognized of all Precious Gemstones.
The word sapphire is derived from the Latin word ‘saphirus’ and the Greek word ‘sapheiros’, both meaning the color blue. Some religions believed the blue color of the sapphire represented the heavens. Ancient Persians believed that the Earth rested on a giant sapphire whose reflection gave the sky its color.
Sapphires have been linked to royalty and nobility throughout recorded history. They were the gems of choice among clergy, emperors and kings in ancient civilizations. Worn by royalty as a symbol of good fortune, virtue, wisdom and holiness, Kings wore sapphires around their neck as a powerful defence from harm, as they believed it preserved the wearer from envy and attracted divine favour. Many cultures held that sapphires imparted healing and calming properties. It represents spiritual enlightenment and inner peace and is associated with romantic love, representing fidelity and romantic devotion.
Sapphires are stones of the apocalypse. Ancient lore believed that the tablets in which the Ten Commandments were written were actually made of sapphire. Blue sapphires were the holy stone to the Catholic Church. In the 18th century, sapphires were used to test female loyalty. If the stone changed color, it would reveal that its wearer was unfaithful. Buddhists believed they represented friendship and loyalty. Other cultures thought they were the stone of prosperity, and prevented terror and poverty in men.
The Burmese considered rubies the ‘king of gems’ and called all other stones ‘attendants’, including sapphires. In the past, sapphires were believed to be a talisman that would protect against evil spirits and other creatures of the night. They were believed to have healing properties for rheumatism, colic, and mental illness. They were used to aid to psycho kinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, astral projection and were also used as an antidepressant.
Sapphire is the birthstone for those born in September and symbolizes sincerity and faithfulness. It is often presented as a gift for the 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries. Sapphire is the stone for Taurus on the Zodiac chart.
Sapphires have been highly regarded and dis tinguished worldwide throughout history. Several sapphires are world famous due to their extraordinary characteristics. These precious gems have been placed in upscale museums to ensure they are protected for years to come.
The 563-carat ‘star of India’ sapphire is the most famous and largest star sapphire in the world with a greyish-blue color and a slightly milky quality. This stone is housed in the Museum of Natural History in New York.
The largest known cut sapphire in the world is Queen Marie of Romania’s sapphire, which is 478 carats. The stone is from Sri Lanka and is completely untreated. It is on permanent display in the Diamond Fund Exhibition, within the Kremlin Armoury Museum in Moscow.
The 104-carat Stuart Sapphire is one of the oldest known sapphires, dating back to 1214. It is under the protection at the Tower of London, displayed on the back of the British Imperial State Crown.
The 98-carat Bismarck Sapphire is a deep blue stone set in a diamond and platinum necklace designed by Cartier. It was found in Sri Lanka and was given as gift to the Smithsonian Institute by Countess Mona von Bismarck in 1967.
Sapphires have consistently made an appearance in great literature, religious texts, and historical references. They are one of the favourite gems amongst royalty and the rich and famous. The British Crown Jewels are full of large blue sapphires as the mark the prudent and wise rulers. Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana and Princess Anne all received sapphire engagement rings.
Sapphire mining has occurred throughout the world for thousands of years. Beautiful sapphires are mined in many different countries producing the lovely stones that continue to mystify humans with their beauty, color and hardness.
The island of Sri Lanka (Ceylon), also known as Serendip or ‘gem island’, has the oldest known sapphire mine and has earned the reputation of producing stunning varieties of sapphires. Sri Lanka is famed for producing huge pinks, magnificent blue and yellow sapphires along with red, pink and blue star corundum. It is also famed for producing the most expensive of all sapphire colors, the pink-orange padparadchas, named after the island’s lotus flower.
The best sapphires are believed to come from Burma (Myanmar), including some of the world’s finest blue sapphires. These stones are specifically mined in the Mogok Valley where many fine rubies can also be found. Mining in Thailand primarily occurs in the Chanthaburi and Trat provinces in the south-western part of the country. Chanthaburi is known for its yellow sapphire called ‘Mekong Whisky’, which has a golden brownish-yellow to orange huge.
Kashmir, situated in India’s north-western region, is famous for its blue sapphires which exhibit intense, vivid blue stones, now known as ‘Kashmir blue’. Historically, these intensely blue gems were mined in Kashmir until the early 1900’s when the supply was depleted. Kashmir was once a major sapphire supplier but is no longer a significant source. India has the greatest love for Precious Gemstones.
Australia is one of the major contributors to the sapphire mining industry and is known for producing the darkest sapphires in the world. This region produces greenish-yellow, golden, green, orange and blue sapphires along with multi-colored sapphires with marbled hues.
Montana’s ‘gem mountain’ is one of the world’s best kept mining secrets. This US-based mine produces rich color diversity, bi-color, color changing and uniquely hued sapphires. China, Madagascar and Tanzania are also top producers of beautiful sapphire stones.
Sapphires are formed with the mineral corundum deep in the earth’s crust. Ruby and sapphire are the two varieties of this mineral. Red corundum is called ruby and all other colors are called sapphire.
Sapphires, the non-red variety of corundum, rate a 9 on Mohs scale for hardness. Diamonds are the only stone that surpasses sapphire and ruby, rating a 10 on Mohs scale. The durability, hardness and brilliance of these gemstones make them a perfect choice for all types of jewellery.
Sapphires are available in every conceivable color including blue, yellow, pink, orange, green, gold, teal, white, brown, purple, and colorless stones. Blue is the most popular color and the most purchased. The intensity of the blue is the most important factor in determining a sapphire’s value, and sapphires which are not blue are referred to as ‘fancies’.. The blue in sapphires comes from the simultaneous presence of titanium and iron in the earth, whereas high iron content causes the yellow color in some sapphires. Orange-pink sapphires, known as padparadscha, have a higher value than blue sapphires due to their rarity.
Sapphire tends to have better clarity than ruby, although more often than not they do have visible inclusions. Perfect clarity is extremely rare and blue sapphires tend to have more inclusions than most fancy sapphires. Certain varieties of sapphire exhibit a six-pointed star also known as asterism. This is occurs when light reflects from microscopic needle-shaped rutile crystals to produce a star shape. Star sapphires are semi-transparent or opaque in color and the star effect often appears in a cabochon cut.
Sapphires can be found in many shapes, sizes and cuts. These brilliant gemstones are most commonly available in cushion and oval shapes. Other shape possibilities are round, emerald cut, princess cut, cabochon and trilliants. The cabochon cut can demonstrate a cat’s eye effect which displays a thin band of light down the centre of the stone. This is known as chatoyancy and rarely occurs. Sapphires are readily available in sizes up to 2 carats, although it is not unusual to see gemstones in sizes 5 to 15 carats.
Sapphires will continue to be brilliantly beautiful for millions of years with the proper care. Caring for your sapphire gemstone is easy.
Here are some tips to help you keep your sapphire beautiful:
The more you learn about gems, the more successful you will be at acquiring quality gems at fair prices for your collection. An educated client makes the best decisions.
Subtle differences in quality can make a difference in beauty and the price of gems. Therefore, it is important to select your jewellery from a professional who can provide you with honest and ethical information.
Here are some tips to help you find the perfect sapphire:
Please contact us to start exploring your options for purchasing and collecting sapphire gemstones.