One of the most popular coloured gemstones, sapphire is also the birthstone traditionally associated with September, so there can be no better time than now to discover more about this beautiful gem.
Sapphire is a variety of the mineral corundum, having the same basic composition as ruby. Although mostly known for its blue hues, sapphire comes in practically every colour except for red. The colour varies depending on which elements are present as impurities within the composition, with pure corundum being colourless. For example, the blue colour that sapphire is famous for is produced by the presence of iron and titanium in the stone. Some sapphires even appear to be different colours depending on the type of lighting; we currently have a stunning piece that is a rich purple under fluorescent strip lights, a velvety blue in sunlight and a gorgeous combination of the two under the spotlights in our showroom!
Sapphires of a colour other than blue are generally referred to by the colour, such as pink sapphire or yellow sapphire. The exception is the rare and beautiful padparadscha sapphire with its pretty light orange-pink hues reminiscent of the lotus flower’; the name is derived from the Sanskrit, essentially meaning ‘lotus coloured’.
Sapphire has long been a popular choice for engagement rings, a trend encouraged by the stunning twelve carat Ceylon sapphire in Princess Diana’s engagement ring, now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge; one of the most famous pieces of jewellery in the world. This classic design, an oval sapphire surrounded by diamonds, is one of the most enduringly popular, and its influence is seen even in modern ‘halo cluster’ pieces. The durability of sapphire (corundum is second only to diamond in hardness) makes it ideal for use in everyday pieces of jewellery such as engagement rings. It also means corundum is an ideal material for a range of industrial purposes, for instance in watch glasses and movement bearings or as an abrasive.
Blue sapphires come in a wide range of shades, from pretty pastel through to deep midnight. The sapphire you choose is dependent on your personal preference, although it is important to bear in mind that different colours can command very different prices. A rich and vibrant blue is normally considerably more expensive than a stone that is very light or very dark. Additionally, the clarity and transparency of the stone will impact upon value: a more transparent and lively stone will usually cost much more than a more opaque stone with less sparkle.
Our experienced team of gemmologists will be happy to tell you more about sapphires and guide you through the range of options available. We have a fabulous range of sapphire jewellery, including blues, pinks and yellows as well as multicolour pieces, available to view in our showroom. A selection of these can also be viewed on our website. There is usually something to suit every budget and style, and if you can’t see quite what you are looking for then just ask; our network of suppliers may have just the thing.