Sapphire gemstones are treasured for their beauty and their hardness. They are the third hardest gemstone known to man, with a 9 on the Mohs scale. Only diamonds and moissanite are harder. Because of their hardness they are used not only in jewelry, where their durability lets them absorb rough handling but in scientific instruments such as solid-state electronics. The best sapphires come from Asia, although they are also found in Africa, Australia, and North America.
The word sapphire means blue stone, and most people think of blue when they think of sapphires. However, sapphires come in many colors. From a geochemical point of view, sapphires are an aluminum oxide, a variety of the mineral corundum. If corundum is red, it is a ruby. If corundum is any other color, it is a sapphire. Non-blue sapphires are called fancy sapphires. Fancy sapphires can be yellow, pink, padparadscha (orange-pink), purple, white, green, and black. Star sapphires are cut and polished cabochon style so light refraction creates a six or twelve-ray star. This asterism is found only in translucent, not transparent, gemstones.
Traditionally, sapphires were thought to represent loyalty, sincerity, faithfulness, reliability, and constancy, as well as wisdom and protection from envy. Sapphires are the birthstone for September.
Sapphire rings are popular for engagement rings because its attributes are things necessary for a successful relationship. HRH the Prince of Wales gave a blue sapphire and white diamond engagement ring to Lady Diana Spencer, which their son, HRH Prince William, regifted to his fiancée, Kate Middleton.
The most famous sapphire is the Logan Sapphire, a 423 carat stone set in a brooch and surrounded by 20 diamonds. The largest sapphire in the world is the Life and Pride of America, a star sapphire of 1,905 carats.
If you would enjoy the beauty of sapphire without the expense of this rare (and pricey!) gem, take a look at our Something Blue Sapphire Anklets created with sapphire Swarovski crystals or contact us for other custom jewelry.