and sapphires are made of aluminum oxide (corundum). Clear sapphires
have many of the same qualities of the diamond. They're corundum,
without iron or other impurities.
Sapphire is not only as blue as the early autumn sky, but as yellow
and red as the falling leaves. Few other gems display such a rich
palette of colors. Inclusions can produce cat's eye or six-pointed
star stones. These are gems of legend, prized since antiquity
as star sapphires. From the Vale of Kashmir in India, amid the
peaks of the Himalayas, come the finest deep blue sapphires. Sapphires
are second in hardness only to diamonds. Because of their chemistry
and stability, many sapphires are heated to bring out peak color.
Sapphires of history provided great powers of protection, especially
Can be cleaned in ultrasonic cleaners.
Sapphires are found in the US, Australia, Burma, Thailand, and
Egyptians associated the clear sapphire with the eye of Horas,
Greeks identified the white sapphire with Apollo and was used
by the oracles at Delphi.
stone was used by the Greeks to stimulate the opening of the third
eye and to tap into the subconscious and super conscious overmind.
Clear sapphires, like diamonds, are the guardians of love. When
given to one another it enhances love for each other and tunes
your psyches to one another. In the old days, it was used to banish
envy and jealousy. It also promotes chastity in virgins and insures
fidelity in marriage.
Gem of the Heavens
the celestial gemstone, has been treasured for thousands of years.
The ancient Persians believed that the earth rested on a giant
sapphire and its reflection colored the sky. Sapphire is found
in all the colors of the heavens: from midnight blue to the bright
blue of noon sky in the Mediterranean, golden sunrise to fiery
reddish-orange sunsets, and the delicate violet of twilight. The
most famous and valuable sapphires are a rich intense blue, a
truly royal hue.
has long symbolized truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. Tradition
holds that Moses was given the ten commandments on tablets of
sapphire, making it the most sacred gemstone. Because sapphires
represent divine favor, they were the gemstone of choice for kings
and high priests. The British Crown Jewels are full of large blue
sapphires, the symbol of pure and wise rulers.
sapphire symbolizes sincerity and faithfulness, it is an excellent
choice for an engagement ring. When Prince Charles chose a sapphire
engagement ring for Princess Diana, couples all over the world
were inspired to revive this venerable tradition.
is also the birthstone for September, the month when the most
babies are born. Ancient lists also name sapphire as a birthstone
for April and the gemstone for the sign of Taurus.
blue sapphires are tremendously undervalued," says David
Federman, United States author of Consumer Guide to Colored Gemstones
and other gem books. "Fine Kashmir and Burma sapphires are
much rarer than Burma rubies and yet they are available for much
less. Even fine Sri Lankan sapphires are rare to see these days.
There is nothing more restful to the soul than a fine sapphire."
come from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Australia, and Cambodia. Nigeria,
Kenya, Tanzania, China, Vietnam, Madagascar, and the United States
also produce some sapphire. The deposits in Montana in the United
States produce a range of fancy colors, mostly from alluvial deposits
in the rivers, and deep blue sapphires from one of the world's
largest deposits at Yogo Gulch. The sapphires from Yogo Gulch
are small in size but they have a beautiful blue. Unfortunately
they are found in a hard rock that makes mining difficult, limiting
most famous sources for sapphire are Kashmir and Burma, which
is now known as Myanmar. Kashmir sapphire, which was discovered
in 1881 when a landslide in the Himalayas uncovered beautiful
blue pebbles, has a rich velvety color prized by connoisseurs.
Burma sapphires, from the same region that produces fabulous rubies,
are also very fine. However, today, these two sources account
only for a very small quantity of the sapphire on the market.
fine sapphire on the market today comes from Sri Lanka, which
produces a wide range of beautiful blues from delicate sky blue
colors to rich saturated hues. Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Pailin
in Cambodia are renowned for deep blue, even colors. Two relatively
new mining localities are showing promise: Madagascar, which has
produced some exceptionally fine stones in small sizes but has
no organized mining yet, and Tanzania, which has long produced
sapphire in other colors but is starting to produce blue colors
as well from a new deposit in the south.
most valuable sapphires have a medium intense, vivid blue color.
The best sapphires hold the brightness of their color under all
different types of lighting. Any black, gray, or green overtones
mixed in with the blue will reduce a stone's value. In general,
a more pastel blue would be less preferred than a vivid blue but
would be priced higher than an overdark blackish blue color. As
with all gemstones, sapphires which are "clean" and
have few visible inclusions or tiny flaws are the most valuable.
However some very fine sapphires, in particular those from Kashmir,
have a velvety mist-like texture which enhances the richness of
are most often cut in a cushion shape - a rounded rectangle -
or an oval shape. You can also find smaller sapphires in round
brilliant cuts and a wide variety of fancy shapes, including triangles,
squares, emerald cuts, marquises, pear shapes, baguette shapes,
and cabochon cuts, or smooth domes.
sapphires with an unusual kind of tiny needle-like inclusions
can be cut in a cabochon shape to display a dancing six-rayed
white star. Star Sapphires, which are becoming more rare,
are very popular for men's rings. Star sapphires are judged
by the sharpness of the star, the evenness of the rays or "legs"
of the star, and the body color of the sapphire. It is extremely
rare to find a star-sapphire with a sharp star and a bright
blue body color. The ancients regarded star sapphires as a very
powerful talisman, a guiding star for travelers and seekers
of all kinds. They were so powerful, they were said to continue
to protect the wearer even after being passed on to someone
addition to blue, sapphires are available in every color but
red simply because a red sapphire would be called a ruby! Both
of these gemstones are a gem variety of the mineral corundum:
the only difference is the trace elements which give them their
rich colors. Pink shades of corundum are known either as pink
ruby or pink sapphire. Sapphire in colors other than blue is
often referred to as fancy sapphires.
have become more available in the past twenty years because
some light, cloudy, or overdark sapphire can now be heated at
very high temperatures to improve the color or clarity. This
process, which dissolves trace elements already present in the
sapphire, is completely stable. There is no price difference
between heated and non-heated material except for at the very
top of the market, where the country of origin will also make
a difference in the price. About 90 percent of the sapphire
on the market today has been heated to make sure it has reached
the best possible color and clarity.
is perhaps the toughest and most durable gemstone available
on the market. With a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, sapphire
is harder than any other gem but diamond and it has no cleavage
plane so it cannot be cut with a single blow like a diamond.
In fact, synthetic sapphire is used for scratch-resistant watch
crystals, optical scanners, and other instruments because its
durability can be trusted. That durability ensures that sapphire
jewelry will be treasured for generations.
is often considered to be synonymous with the color blue: you
can easily picture sapphire seas. However, sapphire is beautiful
beyond blue, in every color but red, because red is called ruby.
other colors of sapphire can be just as beautiful and rare -
or even rarer - than the blue but they are usually priced less.
Yellow, orange, lavender, and other pastel shades are especially
our ancestors did not realize that ruby and sapphire are actually
the same mineral, they left us with a dilemma: where should
pink shades be classified? Long ago, people decided to call
all gemstones of the mineral corundum as sapphire, except the
red color, which was called ruby. But pink is really just light
red. The International Colored Gemstone Association has passed
a resolution that the light shades of the red hue should be
included in the category ruby since it was too difficult to
legislate where red ended and pink began. In practice, pink
shades are now known either as pink ruby or pink sapphire. Either
way, these gems are among the most beautiful of the corundum
most valuable other fancy sapphire is a orange-pink or pinkish-orange
called "padparadscha" after the lotus blossom. Padparadscha
sapphires are very rare and the exact definition has always
been a matter of debate: different dealers and different laboratories
around the world disagree on the exact color described by this
term. Some dealers even argue that the term should not be limited
to the pastel shades of Sri Lankan sapphires but should also
include the more firey shades of reddish-orange from the Umba
Valley in Tanzania. Padparadscha sapphires sell at a premium,
nearing the price for a fine blue sapphire. Although the exact
description is debated, the beauty of these rare gemstones is
not, with their delicate blended shades the color of fresh salmon
Other very popular shades of fancy sapphires are yellows, bright
oranges, lavender and purples, and a bluish green color.
the more clear and vivid the color, the more valuable the fancy
sapphire. If the color is in the pastel range, the clarity should
be good: because in lighter tones inclusions are more noticeable,
the trade usually prefers the gemstones to be cleaner with fewer
visible inclusions. In a lighter colored gemstone, the cut is
also more important: it should reflect light back evenly across
the face of the stone, making it lively and brilliant. With
darker more intense colors, the cut is not as critical because
the color creates its own impact.
matter what the color, sapphires combine durability and beauty
for generations of pleasure.