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Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphires are known and revered the world  over  for  their  beauty  and  mystery.  In  many ancient cultures this gem has been admired not only for its elegance but also for the magic and  good luck often associated with it. In western civilisations  the  Sapphire  has  long  been  the traditional  stone  of  choice  to  set  alongside  Diamonds for a man wanting to express his love and commitment to someone special.

For  over  a  thousand  years,  Sapphires  have enjoyed  a  close  association  with  royalty.  The unquestionably  exquisite  and  perfectly  turned out  Mrs.  Simpson  received  many  gems  from Edward VIII. Her collection included incredible  Emeralds,  vivid  Rubies  and  large,  flawless Diamonds; however she always maintained that her  favourite  gemstone  was  Sapphire.  Indeed, she  was  so  proud  of  one  bracelet,  designed by Van  Cleef  and Arpels,  that  apparently  she  asked her tailor to shorten the sleeves of all her  dresses and blouses so that everyone could see  her Sapphires. In the 1980’s, resurgence in the  popularity  of  Sapphire  rings  occurred  shortly  after  Prince  Charles  purchased  a  stunning  Ceylon Blue Sapphire ring as Princess Diana’s  engagement ring. Late in 2010, Diana's ring once again became popular when her eldest son Prince William gave his mother's ring to Kate Middleton when they got engaged in October 2010. This resulted in a resurgence of replica pieces.

Sapphires  come  in  a  range  of  colours,  from  summer sky blues to jet black, colourless and  all colours in between. Sapphire is a member of  the Corundum family; pure Corundum, known  as White Sapphire, is colourless. The wide array  of differing hues seen in Sapphires is due to the  presence of different impurities found in their  crystal structure. Blue Sapphires are formed due  to the presence of titanium. Chromium trapped  inside  Corundum  allows  us  to  enjoy  Pink  Sapphire and in larger quantities gives us the  Ruby (when Corundum is red it is renamed Ruby  instead of Sapphire). When admiring a Sapphire,  turning it back and forth will allow the light to travel through the gem and display even more  colours; this beautiful array of colours emitted  as the gem is moved is known as pleochroism.

In addition to being surrounded by many myths  and legends, this gemstone also enjoys one of the  richest histories. In antiquity Persians believed  that  Blue  Sapphires  were  actually  chips  from  a  huge  pedestal  that  supported  the  earth,  the  reflections  of  which  coloured  the  sky. In  the  Middle Ages it was thought to be an antidote  against poisons and to possess a magical power  to influence the spirits.

It is also mentioned numerous times in the Bible: “Under his feet was something like a pavement  made  of  Sapphire,  clear  as  the  sky  itself”  (Exodus 24:10). “In the second row a Turquoise,  a  Sapphire  and  an  Emerald”  (Exodus  28:18).  “Sapphires come from its rocks, and in its dust  contains nuggets of gold” (Job 28:6). “His body  is like polished ivory decorated with Sapphires”  (Song of Solomon 5:14). “O afflicted city, lashed  by storms and not comforted, I will build you  with stones of Turquoise, your foundations with  Sapphires” (Isaiah 54:11). “You were in Eden,  the garden of God; every precious stone adorned  you:  Ruby,  Topaz  and  Emerald,  Chrysolite,  Onyx  and  Jasper,  Sapphire,  Turquoise  and  Beryl. Your settings and mountings were made  of gold; on the day you were created they were  prepared” (Ezekiel 28:13). “The foundations of  the city walls were decorated with every kind of  precious stone. The first foundation was Jasper,  the second Sapphire, the third Chalcedony, the  fourth Emerald” (Revelation 21:19). 

Sapphire and its sister, Ruby, share a common  attribute. Although Ruby has been unearthed in  several countries, there is one country where its  source is most highly prized: Burma. Likewise,  though Sapphires are unearthed in countries as  far  afield  as  Madagascar,  Australia,  Thailand  and China, the most highly regarded Sapphires  come from a country known as “gem island”: Sri  Lanka. These Sapphires, especially when blue,  are known as Ceylon Sapphires (Sri Lanka was  previously  known  as  Ceylon)  and  command  incredibly  high  prices  per  carat,  particularly  when they have not been heat-treated. The only region to take the limelight away from Ceylon  was Kashmir in India, where in the early 1900’s a  deposit was discovered that yielded superb violet- blue Sapphires that were described as velvet in  appearance. The Songea region of Tanzania has  provided one of the more recent discoveries of a  kaleidoscope of stunning Sapphires.  This gem  is the birthstone of September and is associated  with the Zodiac sign of Taurus. It is also the gift  for the 5th, 45th and 70th anniversaries. Its hard  crystal structure measures 9 on the Mohs scale,  making it incredibly durable. When set in a ring  or  pendant,  and  given  proper  care,  it  should  continue to shine for thousands of years to come.


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A marvellous multi-Sapphire bangle

displaying the many colours of Sapphire



A 'classic' Blue Sapphire