Sapphires are one of the big 3 of jewellery gemstones (the other two being ruby and emeralds). They come in a variety of colours with blue being the most recognizable however other colours have been gaining popularity in recent years.
Sapphires traditionally symbolised sincerity, truth, faithfulness and nobility. Ancient Greeks and Romans believed that they protected their owners from harm and envy. Warriors would present their wives with sapphire necklaces so they would remain faithful as it was believed that the stone’s colour would darken if it was worn by an adulterer or unworthy person. Ancient Persians called them the “Celestial Stone” and believed that the earth leaned on a giant sapphire which made the sky blue. They were thought to be an antidote to poison, to have healing powers and to be protection against snakes and spiders. The 13th Century French even believed that sapphires would turn stupidity to wisdom and irritability to good temper.
Myanmar and Sri Lanka have historically been important sources of sapphires, but significant amounts have been found in Australia, Thailand, Tanzania, Madagascar and Montana in the US.
The shades of blue are determined by how much iron and titanium are contained within the crystal structure. Different kinds of impurities cause the various fancy colours – for example, ferric iron causes yellow sapphires and vanadium causes purple sapphires. Colourless sapphires are actually the default, the lack of colour owing to the absence of any impurities or trace minerals. These clear stones were once popular as diamond imitations and have been coming back in demand as more economical accent stones.
Sapphires rank 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, second only to diamonds, making them an excellent choice for jewellery worn daily. Something to be aware of though, is that sapphires are often treated to improve the colour or clarity. Heat treatment is common and widely accepted as it is permanent. Other treatments include fracture filling or dyeing which may require special care so before you purchase a sapphire, it’s always good to check if and how it has been treated. We will always do this checking on your behalf when sourcing a stone so if you’d like to get started on finding your perfect sapphire, get in touch today.