The rich velvet hue of the sapphire has been sought after for thousands of years. Although this fascinating gemstone comes in every hue of the color spectrum except red, most people associated sapphires with a midnight blue color. The sapphire is considered the official birthstone for the month of September by the National Association of Jewelers of 1912. One of the hardest gemstones in the world, the sapphire is a form of corundum which is one of the hardest minerals on the earth.
The only mineral harder than a sapphire is the diamond, making it a durable gemstone that is perfect for everyday wear. Historians believe that the word corundum comes from the ancient Sanskrit term “kuruvindam” and the word sapphire is derived from the Persian word “safir” meaning “beloved of Saturn”. Some have argued that the gemstone name comes from the Greek term “sapphiros”. The deep blue of the sapphire is reminiscent of the night’s sky without stars. Some ancient cultures believed that the world sat on a gigantic sapphire and the color of blue sky was actually the gemstone’s reflection. Others believe that the Ten Commandments in Christian religion were actually inscribed on sapphire tablets.
Sapphires that are not blue are known as “fancy sapphires”. So, the other sapphire colors such as purple, green, pink, white or yellow are considered “fancies”. A sapphire’s value depends on the size, transparency, color and origin. Certain geographical regions produce finer qualities of gemstones. The most valuable sapphires come from the Kashmir region. The Kashmir sapphires were first unearthed in 1880; these gorgeous gemstones were mined over a period of eight years. A Kashmir sapphire has an intense blue hue with a slightly violet undertone also boasts a silky patina. A gemstone aficionado can also tell a Kashmir sapphire by the fact that its color doesn’t change in artificial light. Burmese and Ceylon, or Sri Lanka, sapphires are next in line for the highest quality sapphires based on region in the world.
Burmese sapphires range from a rich royal blue to a vibrant cornflower blue. These prized gems require certificates of authenticity before savvy buyers will purchase them. If they are certified and it can be proven that they are untreated then the price goes up dramatically. Sapphires are often heat treated to enhance their color and reduce cloudiness caused by rutile inclusions. Although top quality blue sapphires come from these regions, the majority of the world’s blue sapphires come from Thailand or Australia. They are also mined in Kenya, Kampuchea and Tanzania.
Along with their immeasurable beauty, the sapphire has been coveted by many cultures for its mystical powers as well. It is known as a stone of prosperity in that it helps its wearer fulfill the desires of their consciousness. Ancient cultures believed that the sapphire could be used to help get rid of unwanted thoughts and open the mind to beauty and intuition. A sapphire has been called a “stone of uniformity” for its ability to bring authenticity to one’s actions. Many civilizations believed that the sapphire could help protect its wearer against black magic and could actually help send bad spells back to its originator. Historians say some cultures believed these mystical gems were used to ward off poisonous creatures and kill snakes. The sapphire appears in a lot of ancient writings as having been beneficial to one’s physical health as well as mental. Ancient Persians used ground up sapphire as an all purpose medicine. Blue sapphire has long been used to treat blood disorders and to strengthen the walls of the veins. It is also said to be helpful in the treatment of cellular disorders. The color blue has long been associated with the heavens and angels. Crystal healers believe that sapphires help connect its wearer with spirit guides and manifest one’s life purpose. A sapphire is said to help maintain inner peace and good mental health. Long considered a stone of loyalty, this gorgeous gemstone is steeped in as much mystical lore as it is in intriguing beauty.
Sapphires are still one of the most popular gemstones in the global marketplace. Although there is a relatively small number of places where enormous deposits of top-quality sapphires are located, there have been some amazing finds recently. A few years ago, a gemstone deposit spanning several miles was discovered off the south-east coast of Madagascar. Vast amounts of blue, pink and yellow sapphires were found here. In Tanzania, gemstone experts have found initial evidence of two enormous gemstone deposits of blue, yellow, green and orange sapphires. Pink, purple and blue sapphires have also been unearthed in Brazil. One of the most sought after sapphires is called a “star sapphire”. A star sapphire is a variety of sapphire that exhibits an asterism. These look like a six-point star, which are actually inclusions most often made of rutile that elegantly glide across the surface of the gemstone. The value of a star sapphire depends on the color, carat weight and the visibility of the asterism. The largest star sapphire in the world is known as the Star of India and it is on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Not to be outdone, the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C has a 182 carat star sapphire called the Star of Bombay on display as well.
Ancient lore says that when someone gives you a sapphire as a gift, it is a testament to the intense love and loyalty they feel for you. It is considered a noble stone that is symbolic of sophisticated beauty in the physical, mental and emotional sense. Today these alluring gemstones can be found in a myriad of jewelry designs. A sapphire lover can take comfort in knowing that these intriguing gemstones will not only wrap you in an aura of beauty, they can also place a veil of mystical mystery over your look as well.