A blue gemstone that steals your gaze and makes it lose itself in its depths – that’s the first thing that comes to mind when we think of sapphire, the gem that has conquered the world of fine jewelry since ancient times.
Yes, blue is the most common colour of sapphire, and perhaps the most seductive, but it can come in many shades. However, there are no red sapphires, because red stones of the same variety, Corundum, are called rubies.
Sapphire is one of the most popular and precious gemstones, which is due both to its diamond-like charm and the physical and spiritual properties it possesses.
The word “sapphire” comes from the Greek language, where “sapheiros” means “blue”. The same association is also found in Latin with ‘sapphirus’ and in Sanskrit with ‘sanipryam’.
Physical properties and where sapphires are found
Mineral class: corundum (aluminium oxide);
Chemical formula: Al2O3;
Hardness on Mohs scale: 9/10;
Durability: very high;
Refractive index: 1.76-1.77;
Transparency: ranges from transparent to opaque;
Types of crystals formed: prismatic, bipyramidal, rhombohedral or tabular;
Lustre: vitreous, from translucent to transparent;
Crystal system: hexagonal;
What colour is sapphire?
If you’re wondering what colour sapphire is, you’ll find that this stone can come in various shades of blue, green, yellow, orange, brown, pink, purple, grey, black and multicoloured. The colour variations are due to traces of other chemical elements in the mineral’s composition, such as iron, titanium, vanadium, copper, magnesium, chromium. There are also colourless and white, which are the rarest. In jewellery you will most often find blue sapphire.
Where is sapphire found?
It is extracted from metamorphic and volcanic rocks and alluvium. The largest quantities of natural sapphires mined annually come from India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Madagascar, Tanzania, Pakistan, Afghanistan, East Africa, Australia and Montana.
Because rough sapphire is extremely hard, it does not scratch or fracture easily. In fact, out of your jewelry box, only diamonds could scratch sapphires.
In addition to regular visits to the jeweler, which are recommended to check the setting of the stone, such as a gold ring with a sapphire prong set or a sapphire in earrings, which can be hung quite easily, there are simple care methods you can apply at home.
We suggest cleaning your sapphire jewellery using a fine brush and a warm soapy water solution, but without submerging the whole piece in it.
If the deposits persist, then you should call your jeweller, who will use steam or ultrasound to do a professional cleaning.
Beyond the idea of sapphire as a gemstone, it enjoys a number of metaphysical properties that wearers have experienced over time. Currently, the properties of sapphire that act on a spiritual energetic level are:
- It protects against evildoers, revealing their evil words and intentions;
- helps to understand messages that come from beyond the physical capacity to understand, and is used in meditative practices (cleanses the energy meridians);
- enhances the fulfilment of material dreams and desires and maintains well-being once achieved;
- establishes peace and harmony between business partners or between employer and employees;
- cures nervous system disorders;
- regulates the functions of the thyroid gland;
- gives clarity of thought;
- by colour, yellow sapphire has detoxifying properties, purple sapphire has calming effects, green sapphire contributes to the health of the circulatory system and blue sapphire increases confidence in others.
- The sapphire stone is associated with the zodiac signs Pisces (classic blue sapphire), Taurus (light blue sapphire), Gemini (yellow sapphire) and Libra (star sapphire), and is also the stone of the month of September.
It is given on the occasion of anniversaries of any kind 5 years, 45, 65 or 70 years.
How do you know a sapphire is genuine
There are several ways to determine at home whether sapphire jewelry is indeed genuine or the stone is actually a colored artificial crystal:
- use a professional magnifying glass that magnifies 10 times to inspect the stone. Notice if inclusions are visible – if so, then it’s real, because natural gemstones aren’t perfect on the inside;
- blow hot air on the stone and time the time it takes for the steam to disappear from the surface – if it’s a genuine gemstone, then in 1-2 seconds maximum it will disappear, and if it takes up to 5 seconds or more, you’re most likely dealing with an artificial crystal;
- an invasive method if the stone is not genuine: try scratching it with another stone (not a diamond) – if it scratches, then it is not real;
to see if the sapphire is natural or created in a laboratory, use the professional magnifying glass and observe from all angles if there are small air bubbles inside. If so, these are signs of artificial gemstones.
Man’s knowledge of sapphires dates back to the Etruscan civilization, more than 2,500 years ago, and its members were the first wearers of sapphire jeweler. Going further in chronological order, the sapphire stone is mentioned in one of Marco Polo’s expeditions, who travelled to the island of Serendib in Sri Lanka, where sapphires were in abundance, as he described in his ‘Book of Wonders’. This area is also thought to be the source of the sapphire, from which it would later have reached the Mediterranean on trade routes through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and today’s Pakistan to India.
The Middle Ages is when jewelry such as blue sapphire rings, brooches and earrings became popular, worn by kings to protect them from the malice and envy of others. The association with noble blood and wealth grew until the Renaissance, when the stone was highly sought after by the wealthy. It was then believed to prevent poverty and to have an effect on human behaviour: the impulsive would be made thoughtful and the naive wise. At the level of inter-human communication, it was believed to bring harmony between lovers and peace between adversaries.
The area where sapphire became popular was the Roman Empire, followed by Greece and Egypt. The ancient Greeks associated it with the sun god Apollo and those who went to consult the deities in temples such as the temple of the famous Oracle of Delphi often wore it, as they believed it had the power to open the third eye, thus being a way to understand the oracle’s predictions.
The Persian people are the authors of one of the best-known stories about sapphires: according to it, the enchanting blue stones were pieces of a huge pedestal that supported the Earth and whose reflections gave the sky its magnificent colour.
The gem is also associated with ecclesiastical tradition – ‘sapphire’ is mentioned several times in the Bible and for a long time it was believed that the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses were written on a sapphire stone. In fact, the clergymen linked it with holiness, chastity and purity thanks to its resemblance to the divine creation of Heaven.
The gemstone also gained significance for Christians in the past because of one of its popular star-shaped shapes, which was called the ‘Stone of Destiny’. The three intersecting lines forming a star in this sapphire shape corresponded to Faith, Hope and Destiny. Because of this interpretation, sapphire jewellery was created and worn as talismans, and it was called the ‘gemstone of gems’.
In the past, it was believed throughout the world that the blue stone had the ability to cure mental illness, but it was also known to be able to reverse the effects of poisons and cure eye diseases (especially in Egypt).
So fascinating has this gem been throughout history that it has become the inspiration for literary myths. A 19th-century French writer, Mme de Genlis, constructed the Myth of the Magic Sapphire, according to which anyone suspected of adultery only had to touch it to reveal their guilt once the sapphire changed colour.