Throughout history, sapphires have been associated with the color blue. Its name is derived from the Greek word sappheiros; which probably referred to lapis lazuli. Indeed, sapphires can be found in a range of blue hues. The celestial blue color of this gem symbolizes heaven, loyalty and integrity. In ancient Greece and Rome, kings and queens believed blue sapphires protected them from envy and harm. The ancient Persians believed the earth rested on a giant sapphire, and the reflection made the sky blue.
In ancient times, a gift of a sapphire was a pledge of trust and loyalty. It is from this tradition that sapphire has long been a popular choice for engagement rings. In 1981, England’s Prince Charles gave Lady Diana a 12-carat blue sapphire engagement ring. Almost 30 years later, Prince William gave this ring to Kate Middleton.
However, sapphires come in an array of colors: pinks, yellows, greens, oranges and violets- which are often referred to as fancy sapphires. Sapphires come in every color except red. If a sapphire is red, it is classified as a ruby; both are part of the corundum mineral family.
Sapphires are assessed by color, clarity, cut, and carat size, just like diamonds. The origin of the sapphire like other colored gemstones can also determine the price.
Color is the key indicator of price. The highest valued sapphires are vivid blue, sometimes with a violet hue.
Over 150 Million years ago, rocks containing traces of conundrum went through large pressure and extreme temperature changes at a depth of 6 to 18 miles below the earth’s crust. These rough corundums are mined in a variety of exotic places including Madagascar, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Montana in the United States.
Sapphires are often treated with heat to improve color and clarity. Heat enhancement is stable, routine, and does not require special care. Natural gemstones are somewhat rare and incredibly valuable. If you want a natural sapphire, a report from a recognized gem testing laboratory is recommended to shows no evidence of heating. It is also recommended that you ask for lab verification of origin for any sapphire purported to be from Kashmir, Burma or any other prestigious country of origin. Stones proved to be from certain localities command a premium.
Sapphire gemstones occur readily in sizes up to 2 carats. Most commercial-quality sapphires weigh less than five carats. However, it is not unusual to see gemstones in sizes of 5 to 15 carats. Traditionally, sapphires are cut into cushion and oval shapes. Additional shapes include rounds, emerald-cuts and princess-cuts.
Sapphires have a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, and it ranks right below diamonds. Sapphires are extremely durable and are an ideal choice for everyday wear. Your sapphire can be cleaned with mild dish soap and a toothbrush to clean behind the stone.
Sapphires are the birthstone for September and make wonderful gifts for the 5th, 45th and 70th wedding anniversaries.