From deep velvet indigo to hot pink sapphire, a variety of corundum, the sapphire is considered one of the four kings of gemstones.
Sapphires come in many colors. The best-known sapphires are the blue stones and possibly the least know are the stunning orange-pink of the Padparadscha sapphire. Sapphires are sister stones to rubies and are second in hardness to diamonds. These stones are found in river sediment or in rock formations. Fine quality sapphires are those dark in color and large in size.
In the past, fine sapphires have come from the Kashmir district of India in the Himalayas, Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, China, Madagascar, Africa and there is even a well known blue gem sapphire from the state of Montana in the United States.
These stones take their name from both the Greek and Latin words for blue. Ancient peoples associated sapphires with the sky and heavens, thus they are also known as the gem of heaven. Hebrew tradition holds that the tablets the Ten Commandments were inscribed upon were actually a sapphire so strong that a hammer swung against them would shatter.
- These stones symbolized truth, honesty, and faithfulness. To this day they are frequently used in engagement rings. One of the more memorable sapphire engagement rings is the 18 ct. oval stone that Lady Diana wore and now graces the hand of the Duchess of Cambridge.
- Sapphire is the traditional gift for 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries.
- The ancient Persians believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire whose reflection gave the sky its color.
- Sapphires that are any color except blue are considered “fancy”. The most popular fancy colors include pink, purple, and yellow, but sapphires exist in a full range of colors including orange, peach, green, violet, brown, and even gray.
- The rarest sapphire variety is the pinkish-orange Padparadscha sapphire.
- The first U.S. sapphires were found in 1865 in the gravels of the Missouri River in Montana.
- In the 1930s a 732 ct. sapphire was found in Australia and named the Black Star of Queensland.
- During the middle ages, people wore sapphires to suppress negative thoughts.
- Sri Lanka is the world’s largest producer of sapphires over 100 cts., and most are a lighter shade of blue.
- One of the most famous sapphires is the 104 ct. Stewart Sapphire mounted in the British Imperial State Crown.
- Ivan the Terrible of Russia believed that sapphire strengthened the heart and muscles and endowed a person with courage.
- In the Orient, the color blue and blue stones indicate wisdom and generosity.
Hardness: 9, just behind the diamond.
This stone is sturdy, use any commercial jewelry cleaner or plain soap and water and a soft toothbrush to clean. Ultrasonic or steam machines are fine for deep cleaning but should be avoided for star sapphires because inclusions weaken the stone. Be sure to thoroughly rinse and dry all your jewelry after cleansing.