Sapphires have endured as one of the stones of choice for royalty and the well to do for centuries, and they are becoming increasingly popular as the centre stone for engagement rings and jewellery. Sapphires are the non-red variety of the mineral corundum (red corundum being a ruby) and they are most common in their blue form, although they can be found in a wide range of colours.
Besides blue, these include pink, yellow, green, orange, brown and clear. Sapphire is the name given to a couple’s 45th wedding anniversary (the 40th belonging to her sister stone, the ruby) and it is the birthstone of the month of September.
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Colour: Blue, colourless, pink, orange, yellow, green, purple, black
Pleochroism: Dark blue to green-blue
Moh’s Hardness: 9
Refractive Index: 1.762 – 1.788
The name ‘sapphire’ is actually applied to a variety of stones. Until the end of the middle ages, ‘sapphire’ was the name which identified what we now know as lapis lazuli today. Around 1800, the sapphire name was reassigned to the stone we know and love today once it became identified in the corundum series. Now, all gemstones under the corundum family hold this name except those stones which hold a distinctive red colour – these are in fact what we know as rubies.
Usually when it comes to identifying a sapphire by a colour it will simply be named ‘(colour) sapphire’, however some have special exceptions to their name such as leuko-sapphire which is the colourless form of the corundum species, and the Padparadscha stones which have a unique pinkish orange colour and are found exclusively in Sri Lanka.
Iron and titanium are the colouring agents of the more popular and well-known blue sapphire, causing the striking blue hue that we so love. Those stones which hold more violet tones have colouring agents of vanadium. The most desired colour of the sapphire is that of cornflower blue, which also just so happens to be the most valuable. This colour can sometimes be artificially produced by taking a sapphire which is a cloudy, dull coloured specimen and heat treating it to produce a vibrant bright blue sapphire.
Sapphires are found in dolomitized limestones, marble, basalts, and pegmatites, but are actually harvested from secondary deposits such as alluvial fans, created by weathering processes. The most important sapphire deposits are found within Australia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Originally, the most desired cornflower blue sapphires were mined from Kashmir, India, however these deposits became exhausted and now those sapphires which are sold on the market labelled ‘Kashmir’ sapphires are most likely mined from Myanmar.
Lore and History
For centuries, sapphires have symbolized nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness – which is why this gorgeous stone is used in so many engagement rings, such as the late Princess Diana’s and The Duchess of Cambridge’s. In ancient Rome and Greece, kings and queens believed these stones protected them from envious acts and all forms of harm. As time reached to the middle ages, the clergy adorned these stones on their robes to represent heaven, and regular citizens saw this and believed the blue gems represented heavenly blessings.
If you follow crystal spirituality, you’ll know that these stones supposedly relieve mental tension, depression, unwanted thoughts and spiritual confusion. With its links to symbolizing truth and serenity, sapphires are known as body and spirit stabilizers, bringing serenity and peace of mind to the wearer. Some people even believe these stones can battle diseases such as blood and cellular disorders.
4 C’s: Know Before You Buy
When it comes to buying sapphires, all colours and cuts come with different prices, and its all about knowing what to look for!
First and foremost – always make sure your gemstone has been authenticated and certified!
When it comes to choosing your cut for your gem, you can either pick a design which maximizes the colour or enhances the light refraction and scintillation. Brilliant cuts such as round, pear, or princess, all improve the sparkle of your sapphire, whereas step cuts with large facets such as the cushion or oval cut can intensify its colour. Pick the style which fulfils your needs and desires the best.
Blue sapphires, leuko-sapphires and Padparadscha sapphires are the most expensive forms of sapphire due to their rarity and popularity. Following this, all types of blue sapphire tend to come at a more premium price due to them being the most well known. All other forms of sapphire are more affordable, but just as beautiful! In general, those stones which have greater intensity and saturation are more expensive.
All sapphires contain some percentage of inclusions within their body, which authenticates their natural origin and enhances their colour and uniqueness. Those stones which are found on the market with no inclusions and 100% clarity are likely to be synthetic and artificially created, and are far more generic than their natural born twins.
When it comes to buying sapphires, its good to know that the diamond is the only substance harder than itself and so works perfectly in jewellery – however sapphire are denser than diamonds, meaning a higher price per carat weight, and therefore potentially a more expensive purchase. This being said, many factors affect the price of a sapphire and not just carats. Its good to keep in mind that because a sapphire is a denser gemstone than others it will come at a greater price the larger the stone you’re looking for, but they are popular for a reason – and their strength means a lovely long lifetime and ultimately good bang for your buck.
Sapphires are timeless gems which act as forever stones just as much as the diamond. Due to sapphires varying in colour and cut, you can let your creative freedom run wild when it comes to incorporating them in your jewellery and outfits. Perhaps you want a solitaire ring, studs, or another jewellery piece that requires just one stone to pick? When looking for a metal to choose from, white gold or platinum best matches with cool toned colours such as blue, green and purple. Yellow gold matches best with warm toned colours such as pinks, oranges and yellows. Leuko-sapphires of course can match with any colour band due to their colourless interior, or why not match a pink sapphire with a rose-gold band for a beautiful combination. Maybe you’re looking for a variety of colours for a trilogy ring? Why not pick a white gold band and have a midnight sky theme, consisting of purple, blue, and black sapphires? There is no end to the possibilities with sapphires so enjoy having a browse and finding whats right for you.