Here are 10 facts about sapphire you might have been unaware of:
Sapphire can be of any color rather than red.
Sapphire is mostly associated with the color of blue. Yet sapphires come in a variety of colors, like green, yellow, pink, violet, purple, orange and intermediate hues. Sapphires can also be colorless, and even gray or black, as well as parti-colored, that may combine different colors. Basically, sapphires can be of any color except red, due to the fact that red corundum is called “ruby”.
The name “sapphire” originates from a number of languages.
In Hebrew, “even Sapir” is the mineral of Moses stick, the material of the throne of the Almighty God and the mineral ground of Eden.
Greek “sappheiros” and Latin “saphirus” both stand for “blue”.
All the names previously referred to both sapphire and lapis lazuli.
Sapphire and ruby are a part of the same corundum family.
Sapphire is a part of corundum family that also includes ruby. Considering that, the name “sapphire” can be applied to any corundum except for red. If the corundum is red, then it is called ruby. Both ruby and sapphire share the same chemical composition and mineral structure. Only trace amounts of other elements determine if the gemstone is ruby or sapphire. For example, quite small amount of chromium gives corundum its pink color, thus the gemstone is called “pink sapphire”. If larger amounts of chromium present, the color of corundum becomes more saturated and can produce a gemstone of deeper red color, then it becomes a ruby. The name “ruby” is used for a corundum that has a color that ranges between orangy red and slightly purplish red.
At the same time, iron and titanium, as trace elements, can produce a blue color in corundum. Blue corundums that range from violetish blue to a greenish blue are called “sapphires.”
Other trace elements can create corundums of other colors rather than red or blue. Those corundums are called “Fancy sapphires”.
In its purest state, corundum is colorless.
The mineral corundum consists of aluminum and oxygen only. If no trace elements are present, the sapphire is colorless. Although most corundum contains trace elements that cause certain color.
When the color of a sapphire is other than blue, this color is used as a preceding adjective in order to describe a stone. For example, “orange sapphire”, “pink sapphire”, etc. While the word “sapphire” when used alone always stands for a blue sapphire.
Most of gem trade names for sapphire color are inspired by nature.
The color terms used in trade to describe sapphire are mostly stemmed from the richest colors present in nature.
For example, some blue sapphires are often compared to the color of cornflower.
Another name used is a twilight that resembles the color of the sky a few moments after sunsets.
Some sapphires ranging from pastel lavender to rich violets are called Lilac sapphires, inspired by the color of lilac flower.
A rare pinkish-orange sapphire, which is the most valuable next to blue sapphire is called Padparadscha, taking its name from the nature again. It is said to be a mixture of a sunset and lotus blossom colors. The original source of Padparadscha is Sri Lanka, and padparadscha means “lotus flower” in Sinhalese.
Besides the names that were inspired by nature, some sapphires with a deep vivid blue-violet color, mostly originated from Mogok, Myanmar, are called Royal Blue.
The most sought after color is a velvet blue sapphire originated at Kashmir, India.
Currently Kashmir source is almost depleted that makes Mogok, Myanmar the leading source of the best quality sapphires available today.
Sapphires are mined in numerous locations worldwide.
Both fancy colored and blue sapphires come from a number of locations, including India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Madagascar, Nigeria, Australia and other countries.
Most of corundum forms in metamorphic rocks, although it is rarely mined from the rocks it is formed in, due to the fact that the mining process is very expensive and most of the gemstones get broken during the process.
Nowadays, most of the corundum is mined from the stream sediments. The stones are concentrated in small placer deposits, and most of the sapphires are found by washing the gravels of these deposits. This work is usually done by hand by local people.
Sapphires are among the most durable colored gemstones in the world.
Sapphires are one of the most durable gemstones. Their hardness, ability to withstand scratching, is rated 9 out of 10 based on Mohs Scale of Hardness.
Due to such a high hardness, sapphire even has a number of industrial uses. Diamond is the only gem that can scratch sapphire.
Sapphire durability and hardness makes it a perfect choice for a jewelry pieces worn daily, as well as for engagement rings. Some of the most famous engagement rings use sapphire as a central stone.
Sapphire is one of the favorite gemstones of royalty since centuries.
Sapphire has long symbolized truth, sincerity, and faithfulness and has been associated with romance and royalty for centuries.
Sapphire was used in jewelry, as robe decoration, besides throughout the history it was believed that sapphire possesses mystical properties and can protect its owner from evil and harm.
Considering the durability and beauty of a sapphire it was often used as a central stone of engagement ring.
Sapphires sometimes command higher prices than diamonds at the auctions.
Some fine sapphires can be priced even higher per carat than diamonds. The most expensive sapphire sold at the auction is the “Blue Belle of Asia,” the world’s fourth largest faceted blue sapphire.
The “Blue Belle of Asia”, a stunning 392.52 carat Ceylon sapphire, was sold at Christie’s Geneva on November 11, 2014 for a record price of $17.7 million.
According to presale estimates, the “Blue Belle of Asia” was the second most expensive lot at the auction, however it became the most expensive lot sold followed by a colored diamond set by Bulgari. This was the first time that a colored gemstone became the most expensive lot sold at the auction outperforming even diamonds.
Some sapphires show such phenomenons as color change and asterism.
Some sapphires can show a phenomenon called asterism or star effect. This occurs when inclusions of tiny, rutile needles create a six-ray star pattern. Although twelve-ray stars are also known, six-ray stars are the most common. These sapphires are often called “star sapphires“.
In 2015 the world’s biggest blue star sapphire weighing 1,404 carats was found in Sri Lanka. Its estimated value is over $300 million.
Besides fancy and star sapphires, there is also such a variety as a color-change sapphire. Color change sapphires exhibit different colors in different lighting conditions, mostly going from blue in daylight to purple in incandescent light. Some rare color-change sapphires show green color in daylight changing to reddish brown under incandescent light.
Some lab grown sapphires are hard to distinguish from natural sapphires.
First synthetic sapphire was created in 1902 and quite often lab grown sapphires can be distinguished from natiral sapphires by gemologists only with the use of profesional equipment. Synthetic sapphires range in price and quite frequently they are used in less expensive jewelry.