History says that the tablets brought down by Moses with the Ten Commandments were made of Sapphire. The Persians believed that the world stood on a sapphire and the color of the sky was a mere reflection of that stone’s color.
Many cultures believe that Sapphires had health giving properties. Whilst that may exaggerate the truth, to this day, many people believe sapphires brings you good luck and good fortune. This is one reason why the stone is so popular for jewelry such as engagement rings. Prince William gave Kate Middleton, Princess Diana’s lovely blue Ceylon Sapphire….so it truly is a stone meant for Royalty.
Sapphire, the gemstone…
Sapphire is an aluminum oxide mineral that is so hard that it resists nature’s efforts to erode it. It is one of a handful of gemstones of this structure and as a result can be found in sediment where softer stones may wear.
It is a stone found on many continents of the World with its value dependent on the gemstone’s size, color and clarity. Blue sapphires, especially those with the “cornflower” blue tend to be the most valuable in terms of color, with one of the best (and largest) examples ever discovered available for your viewing pleasure in Washington DC; the Logan Sapphire on display in the National Museum of Natural History is 423 carats, 83g.
Sapphires come in a range of color deriving that color from impurities such as iron, titanium or chromium. The quality can vary enormously and one element of value can be the region it came from. Sapphires are mined in Australia which is the largest producer of Sapphire by volume, East Africa, Madagascar, Thailand and Sri Lanka. The best deposits in the USA are in Montana, especially those known as Yogo Sapphires.
Those sapphires of blue with an element of violet are regarded as fine quality all other things being equal. If the secondary color has a greenish tinge that is regarded as a negative. Blue is said to be the most popular color on the planet and the depth of blue found in a sapphire makes it a real find….
However, whilst it is mostly famous for its blue color, several other colors are fairly common, green, yellow and pink and there are some rare stones which can appear to change color in different light. Such rare beauties with that pleochromatic property are best be exploited by expert and skilled cutters have the skill to be able to see the best way to cut a particular stone to bring out the color change.
Synthetic sapphire is made on a fairly large scale, about 250 tons annually mostly in the USA and Russia. It has none of the impurities of the natural gemstone which is one way of distinguishing between natural and synthetic sapphires.
Properties of Sapphire
Color Various except ruby red.
Specific gravity 3.95 – 4.03
Uses for Sapphires
As already stated sapphire is extremely hard so it has uses far beyond the decorative. The uses included industrial use for solid state electronics and optical components, scientific instruments, wrist watch crystals and movement bearings. Synthetic production means there is never a shortage of raw material for industry.
However, the sapphire is a prized and valuable gemstone for jewelry and its hardness means that it is extremely difficult to damage. Cutters tend to shape them into ovals or cushions. Those that are made into round shapes involve removing a good deal of the rough sapphire at the later stages in the cut and hence they are more expensive than the oval or cushion.
When all is said and done….
Sapphire is a highly valuable gemstone which is extremely popular for standard jewelry, albeit expensive, and for gifts to commemorate anniversaries. Blue is the most popular of the colors which reflects both the popularity of the color in general and the range and depth of the blues that can be found.
It is also a stone with uses far beyond decoration but it’s the appearance that wins the day for sapphire in its natural form.