A maiden born when autumn leaves Are rustling in September‘s breeze, A Sapphire on her brow should bind; To bring her joy and peace of mind. - Gregorian Birthstone Poem ***
The History of the Sapphire
The sapphire, has been popular since the Middle Ages. Traditionally, the sapphire symbolises nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. It has decorated the robes of royalty and clergy members for centuries.
In the middle ages, people believed wearing a sapphire suppressed negative thoughts. It also has been long believed to have a curing power for natural ailments. In ancient Persia it was used as an all-purpose medicine, ground up into a powder. Ivan the Terrible of Russia stated that the sapphire strengthened the heart and muscles and endowed a person with courage.
Where are sapphires found?
Sapphires are found in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, China, Australia, Brazil, Africa and North America (mainly Montana). Their origin can affect their value as much as colour, cut, clarity and carat size.
Australia was a significant source of sapphires until deposits were discovered in Madagascar during the 1990s. Madagascar now leads the world in sapphire production.
Although sapphires typically refer to the rich blue gemstone variety of the mineral corundum, this royal gem actually occurs in a rainbow of hues. Sapphires come in every colour except red, which earn the classification of rubies instead. Sapphires get their colours from trace elements in the mineral corundum. It is turned to blue sapphire when it contains iron and titanium, and trace elements of chromium can turn corundum pink, while more chromium turns it into a ruby.
Due to the remarkable hardness of sapphires—which measure 9 on the Mohs scale, second only to diamond - they aren’t just valuable in jewellery, but also in various industrial applications.
Things you might not have known
The name “sapphire” comes from the Latin sapphirus and Greek sappheiros meaning “blue stone,” though those words may have originally referred to lapis lazuli.
In 1902, French chemist Auguste Verneuil developed a process to make synthetic sapphire. The abundance of synthetic sapphire unlocked industrial applications spanning integrated circuits, satellite communication systems, high-durability windows and scientific instruments.
- This gem became a symbol of royal love in 1981 when Britain’s Prince Charles gave Lady Diana a 12-carat blue sapphire engagement ring. Prince William later gave this ring to Catherine Middleton when he proposed in 2010.
Star sapphire is rare variety of sapphire that exhibits a asterism under specific lighting. When viewing star sapphire, a six-rayed star will appear to float across the surface of the stone. The effect is best viewed under a direct light source and while tilting and rotating the stone from different angles. Star sapphires contain unusual tiny needle-like inclusions of rutile.
Famous star sapphires like the 1404.49-carat Star of Adam, the 563.4-carat Star of India and the 182-carat Star of Bombay came from Sri Lankan mines.
- The rarest type of sapphire is a pinkish orange variety called Padparadscha, a name that comes from the Sanskrit word for lotus flower.