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  • Ten Fascinating Facts About Sapphire

Ten Fascinating Facts About Sapphire

Ten Fascinating Facts About Sapphire
Sapphire is the birthstone for September and one of the most famous and historically valuable of gemstones.  To celebrate this beautiful gem we've put together all you need to know condensed into ten fabulous fascinating facts...
  1. Sapphire is strongly associated with the colour blue. The name itself is thought to originate from the Greek ‘sappheiros’ meaning blue stone, although evidence suggests that this actually referred to the gem lapis lazuli in ancient times.  Classical civilisations often referred to gems of similar colour by the same name although over time the meaning has become more specific. 


  1. Although most famous for its blue hues, sapphire actually forms in lots of colours! It is a variety of the mineral corundum which is known as ruby if it is red and sapphire in any other colour.  Pieces of jewellery incorporating a rainbow of various fancy coloured sapphires are popular, with a full range from pink through orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.  If a stone is referred to as just ‘sapphire’ then blue is the assumed colour; other colours are known collectively as fancy sapphires and are usually referred to using a colour prefix such as pink sapphire or yellow sapphire.


  1. Pure corundum is actually colourless (usually referred to as white sapphire) and is formed from the elements aluminium and oxygen. It is the presence of tiny traces of other elements that gives the mineral its range of colours.  For instance, small amounts of titanium and iron produce the blue that sapphire is treasured for.


  1. In addition to occurring in a wide range of colours, sapphires may sometimes change colour under different lighting conditions. There is very often a slight shift in hue, but sometimes it can be very pronounced, and the stone will be referred to as a colour-change sapphire.  Usually stones with this property will appear blue in daylight and purple in incandescent light: the ring below features a colour-change sapphire that doe just that!


  1. Padparadscha sapphire is a rare and valuable variety found in Sri Lanka. It has a pinkish-orange colour reminiscent of the lotus blossom native to that country and its name comes from the Sinhalese word for the flower.  The subtle colour is incredibly pretty and such stones can be among the most treasured of all gems.


  1. Synthetic sapphires have been produced since the beginning of the twentieth century. These stones have the same chemical composition and properties as natural sapphire but are produced in a laboratory and have a range of industrial uses as well as being set in jewellery.  They can sometimes be difficult to differentiate from natural sapphires but may have distinctive internal features for a gemmologist to look out for as well as having a colour that seems ‘too good to be true’.


  1. Sapphire has impressive hardness and durability; its hardness is second only to diamond at 9 on the Mohs’ Scale used by gemmologists (diamond is 10). This makes sapphire ideal both for regular wear in jewellery and for a wide range of industrial and technological applications.  The purity and scratch resistant properties of synthetic sapphire are utilised in the screens of supermarket barcode scanners and in sapphire crystal ‘glasses’ on some wristwatches, such as those pictured below.


  1. Many sapphires contain needle-shaped crystals of the mineral rutile. When these are present in the correct quantity and alignment the stone may be cut to reveal a ‘star’ that seems to float just beneath the surface.  This effect is formed of three bands of shimmering light reflecting from the inclusions and is known as asterism from the Latin for star.


  1. Sapphire has been associated with royalty throughout the centuries. This connection became especially strong when Princes Charles presented Lady Diana Spencer with a sapphire and diamond cluster engagement ring.  This ring, featuring a stunning 18ct ‘royal blue’ sapphire is now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge and is probably the most famous sapphire ring in the world.


  1. An intense, velvety blue is the most prized colour in sapphire. Darker (sometimes almost black) and lighter hues can offer a more affordable option.  The availability of different colours can vary over time as existing sources become depleted and new ones are discovered.  In the 1980s many sapphires available commercially were from Australia and were usually very dark in colour.  More recently Madagascar has become an important source for sapphire and is known for beautiful rich blue hues.  Kashmir, an area along the India-Pakistan border is regarded as the source of the finest sapphires historically but the harsh mountainous environment and difficulty of accessing deposits mean only a small amount of material was ever recovered, and it is close to impossible to source stones from this location now.  A certificate from a reputable laboratory suggesting Kashmir as the source can increase the value of a gem dramatically.


You will find a selection of our sapphire jewellery available to view on our website and much more waiting to be tried on in our showroom.  Should you be unable to find what you are looking for then our team of jewellers and gemmologists can help you create the perfect piece and answer any questions you may have about this beautiful gemstone. 

  • Post author
    Zoe Lewis

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