Interesting Facts About Sapphires

Facts About SapphiresSee our interesting facts about sapphires and see just why they are such a popular choice for gemstone jewellery.

One of the most precious gemstones in the world is the Sapphire. It is a truly mesmerising gemstone that has been held in high esteem for millennia. People from all over the world value this magnificent gem and it has a rich and interesting history. Of course, not all Sapphires are the same so what should you consider before buying this gemstone? And what makes Sapphires so different from other gemstones?

Facts About Sapphires

Yellow Sapphire Gemtone

Sapphires are a variety of the mineral Corundum, or crystalline aluminium oxide. Sapphires come in a wide variety of colours, except red. The red variety of Corundum is known as a Ruby. Strictly speaking the term ‘Sapphire’ refers exclusively to Blue Sapphires, any other colour of Sapphire are referred to as ‘Fancy Sapphires’. The traces of the elements titanium and iron cause the gemstone to be blue creating a ‘Blue Sapphire’. The more iron the stone contains the darker the colour of blue the gemstone will be. The trace element Chromium is needed in order for the stone to be either red or pink. When the stone is pink it is classed as a ‘Fancy Sapphire’ and when the gemstone is red it is classified as a Ruby. Other trace elements such as copper and magnesium give the gemstone its other colours.

Pink SapphireDid you know?

  • Sapphires come in a wide range of colours such as violet, blue, pink, green, orange and yellow.
  • Colour Change Sapphires are an incredibly rare and highly desirable gemstone. As the name suggests they change colour dramatically depending on the lighting conditions.
  • Some Sapphires are colourless and have been used as imitation Diamonds.
  • Sapphires are the gemstone of 5th and 45th Wedding Anniversaries.
  • You can even get Sapphires in greys, black and brown.
  • One of the most valuable varieties of Fancy Sapphire are the Padparadscha. This gemstone is pinkish-orange in colour and is named after a type of lotus flower.
  • The Chemical composition of the Sapphire is Al2O3
  • Sapphire is the birthstone for September.

Sapphires in History

Interesting Facts About SapphiresSapphires have a rich and interesting history and have been used for centuries as the stone to represent royalty. Kings and Queens in ancient Rome and Greece believed that their Blue Sapphires would protect them from harm as well as from envy. Blue Sapphires have also been associated with Clergy where the stone was worn to symbolise heaven, leading the common people to believe that the gemstone would attract blessings from heaven.

Sapphires have also been used throughout the ages and all over the world to protect chastity and to influence the spirit realm. It was believed that the beautiful blue gemstone could create peace between enemies and this wonderful gemstone has always been steeped in folklore and legend.

Sapphires are famous for their blue colour and the majority of people think of the Blue Sapphire when the gemstone is mentioned. The rich colour of the Blue Sapphire is used as a benchmark against which other gemstones are measured, such as Tanzanite.

Sapphires are mined all over the world and you can find them from one extreme of the planet to the other. Sapphires are mined in the United States, most notably in the Yogo Gulch area of Montana. They can even be found in Australia! Other countries where Sapphires are mined include:

  • Nigeria
  • Tanzania
  • Kashmir
  • China
  • Vietnam
  • Sri Lanka
  • Cambodia
  • Thailand
  • Myanmar
  • Madagascar and
  • Kenya

Famous Sapphire Gemstones

  • Quite probably the most famous Sapphire in the world is the Stuart Sapphire which dates back to 1214. It has passed down the Monarchs through the ages and was eventually mounted in Queen Victoria’s crown. This Sapphire can now be seen on display at the Tower of London as part of the British Crown Jewels.
  • The Queen Marie of Romania’s Sapphire is by far the largest of the worlds famous cut Sapphires, weighing in at 478 carats. This Sapphire is of exquisite colour and originated in Sri Lanka.
  • The largest historic Sapphire is The Star of India which is on display at the American Museum of Natural History. This gemstone weighs in at 563 carats.
  • The most famous engagement ring in the world is the Sapphire which was worn by Princess Diana. The Sapphire is 18 carats and is now worn by The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.

What to look for in a Sapphire

When looking for a fine quality Sapphire you should consider the 4 C’s, much in the same way as you would for other gemstones. As with Rubies and Emeralds, colour is the most important factor to consider when determining the value of a Sapphire.

  • ColourWikipedia defines the colour of a fine quality blue Sapphire this way: 

    The color of fine blue sapphires may be described as a vivid medium dark violet to purplish blue where the primary blue hue is at least 85% and the secondary hue no more than 15%, without the least admixture of a green secondary hue or a gray mask.

    Blue Sapphires that are less valuable have a greenish or greyish hue to them. Fancy Sapphires come in a wide range of colours but generally speaking the more vivid the colour and the deeper the saturation of hue the more valuable the gemstone will be.
  • Cut – The finished cut of a Sapphire is generally dictated by the shape of the gemstone in its rough form. Because the most common rough form of Sapphire is barrel shaped, the finished gemstones are usually deep cut. The cut should emphasise the Sapphire’s beautiful colour without compromising too much of the weight.
  • Carat – Sapphires come in all sizes from tiny gemstones right through to hundreds of carats in weight. Large fine quality Sapphires demand a higher price per carat the larger they get.
  • Clarity – Usually inclusions within a gemstone affect the stone’s value negatively. Yet GIA reports that:

    inclusions can actually increase the value of some sapphires.

    The reason for this they say is:

    They scatter light, causing the coveted visual effect without negatively affecting the gem’s transparency.

    These Sapphires are called Star Sapphires and the inclusions cause rays of light to be reflected. When you look into a Star Sapphire you may see several rays of light, giving the gemstone the appearance of containing a star.

How to Clean Your Sapphire Jewellery

Sapphires are a very durable gemstone and are easy to look after. They are one of the hardest gemstones there are and can withstand daily wear.

Sapphires can be cleaned with a steam cleaner or ultrasonic cleaner and do not usually require any special care. Take care if you have a Sapphire that is fracture filled as this Sapphire may be more easily scratched. Generally though, you should be more concerned about damaging the metal that sets the stone than damaging the stone itself.

Sapphires can be cleaned easily at home with washing up liquid and a toothbrush. This will remove any residue or grease that may be dulling the gemstones shine. You could also soak the gemstone for 10-15 minutes in a cleaning agent specifically designed for cleaning jewellery.

As one of the 3 most precious coloured gemstones of all time, the Sapphire, along with the Ruby and Emerald, can truly make a statement piece of jewellery. The Sapphires durability and its wonderful array of colours makes it the perfect choice for jewellery of all kind and is used world wide to adorn royalty and the ordinary folk alike.

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