The ancient Persians believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire whose reflection gave the sky its color. Damigeron, a historian of old, wrote that sapphire was worn by kings to protect them from harm. It was also believed that sapphire would protect the wearer from envy and attract divine favor. The gem was regarded as a symbol of truth, sincerity and constancy.
Legend has it that if a poisonous snake were put into a vessel along with a sapphire, the rays from the gem would kill it. Our ancestors interpreted this to mean that sapphire was an antidote against poison.
Origin Of Name
At one time any blue gem material was called sapphire. References to a blue-flecked stone led mineral experts to realize that some of what had been called "sappheiros" was actually lapis lazuli. "Sappheiros" is Greek for "blue."
From The Mountains Of Kashmir
The finest sapphire color is rich, velvety cornflower blue. This is called "kashmir" out of deference to the traditional source of the finest quality. Today, however, the Kashmir area of India is not generally mined because of its physical inaccessibility. Most current production comes from Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Montana, Australia and Africa.
The Multi-Colored Sapphire
Sapphire occurs in colors ranging from very light to dark blue to violetish-blue, bluish-green, yellow, slightly reddish-orange, brown, nearly opaque black, colorless, pink, violet and pinkish-orange. Corundum (sapphire's mineral name) occurs in red, but this is what we know as ruby. A particularly lovely pinkish-orange is referred to as "padparadscha" which is taken from the Sinhalese for "lotus-colored." Although sapphire is found in many colors, these are not all commercially available at any given time. Some are so rare they are collectors items.
Fine, needle-like inclusions are what give sapphires their velvety quality. When these inclusions are numerous enough to make the stone translucent or opaque and are oriented properly, they allow light to be reflected in such a way that a star floats across the top of the stone with movement. When a cutter recognizes this potential in a piece of rough sapphire, he will cut it in a dome shape. Stars are not visible in faceted stones.
The Sinhalese believed the star sapphire would protect them against witchcraft. The three intersecting rays were thought to represent faith, hope and destiny. Museums the world over exhibit star sapphires that are noteworthy for size or quality. The 543-carat "Star of India" resides in the Morgan-Tiffany Collection in the American Museum of Natural History in New York city.
A synthetic gemstone is a substance created in a laboratory which is nearly identical to the natural gem in physical appearance, chemical composition and optical properties. Synthetic sapphires were first developed in the late 1940's. Today synthetic sapphires are available in many colors, including the padparadscha and an alexandrite-like stone which changes color under different lighting.
The Fashionable Choice
Sapphire in its many colors is fashioned into timeless pieces that compliment many styles in your wardrobe. It is either faceted or cut en cabochon (dome-shape) for use in rings, pendants, earrings and pins. It may be linked between expanses of chain for wrist or neck wear. Sapphires are set into the simplest of designs as well as the most elegant of pieces. Prince Charles of England made the headlines with the sapphire and diamond ring he used to seal his betrothal to Lady Diana Spencer.
Making A Wise Purchase
Since subtle differences in quality can make large differences in beauty (and price), it is important to select your jewelry from a professional who can guide you honestly and ethically in your purchase. Our firm is a member of the American Gem Society. As a condition of membership, we are re-examined each year to meet the Society's high standards for knowledge, professionalism and integrity. The AGS symbol is the hallmark of consumer protection within the jewelry profession - as it has been for over 50 years. Many gems are processed to enhance their natural beauty. Ask your American Gem Society jeweler to discuss which techniques might apply to the gem of your choice.