12 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT SAPPHIRE
Celebrating a birthday this September? Surprise yourself or a loved one with the gift of sparkling sapphires, the breathtaking September birthstone. Sapphire is regarded as one of the five cardinal gemstones, with a history as vibrant as its brilliant blue color. There’s more to this precious stone than meets the eye, which is why we’ve decided to detail some of the most fascinating facts about sapphire to share with you!
- Sapphire Name Meaning
Sapphire gets its name from two ancient terms, the Greek word sappheiros, and the Latin word sapphirus, both of which mean “blue.” Before the discovery of sapphire, it’s believed these terms were used to describe the semi-precious stone, Lapis Lazuli, which also occurs in a rich blue color.
- Sapphire Colors
Though blue is certainly the most popular color of sapphire, this glittering gemstone comes in a variety of heavenly hues. Sapphire can occur in marvelous shades of pink, yellow, green, purple, and even white. In fact, white sapphire has become a favorite alternative to the traditional diamond due to its affordability. White sapphire tends to be the least expensive variety of this incredible September birthstone.
- Sapphire History
Sapphires are considered an ancient treasure, prized for thousands of years among several cultures. During the Middle Ages, sapphire was used to protect a wearer from evil. And in Ancient Roman civilizations, polished sapphires were worn as jewelry. Sapphire has historically been associated with royalty and nobility. In fact, up until the 17th century, sapphires were reserved only for royalty and high priests. Anyone else was strictly forbidden from wearing the precious stone.
- Sapphire and Ruby
Sapphire is a variety of the mineral corundum, and shares the same chemical composition and mineral structure as ruby. In other words, sapphire and ruby are essentially identical aside from their color. Other trace elements are what determine the gem’s color. Sapphire’s brilliant blue shades are the result of trace amounts of iron and titanium.
- Padparadscha Sapphire
The rarest variety of sapphire is known as padparadscha, a captivating pinkish orange gem traditionally found in Sri Lanka. The name padparadscha is derived from the Sinhalese word for lotus flower. These elusive sapphires are sifted straight from the Sri Lankan river, and for centuries this was one of the only known sources. However, padparadscha has since been discovered in regions of Madagascar and Tanzania.
- Sapphire Durability
Second only to diamond, sapphire is considered the most durable gemstone available. Earning a score of 9 on Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness, sapphire is relatively resistant to scratching and chipping, making it ideal for jewelry. Sapphire jewelry can safely be worn every day without worry. If you’re looking for a durable alternative to diamond, sapphire is a top contender.
- Sapphire Uses
Besides sapphire jewelry, this beautiful blue gem is used in other, unexpected ways. Thanks to its durability, sapphire is used to create watch crystals for several Swiss timepieces, as well as Apple watches. It can also be used to create scientific instruments, electronic wafers, and high-durability windows. Who knew a gemstone could be so versatile?
- Where is Sapphire Found?
Sapphire is found in only a handful of locations around the world. The three most well-known sources of sapphire are Kashmir, Burma, and Sri Lanka. More recently discovered mines exist in regions of Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Madagascar. In fact, despite having just been discovered in the late 1990’s, Madagascar has grown to become one of the world’s leading sources of sparkling sapphires.
- Sapphire Symbolism
With such a rich history, sapphire has adopted many meanings over the centuries, as one might expect. Cultures from every corner of the globe have attributed various mystical meanings to sapphire. In ancient Persia, rulers believed that the sky’s blue color was reflected from sapphire stones. Greek and Roman royalty wore sapphire as protection from the envious eyes of others who may try to bring them harm. It is even said that the original Ten Commandments were etched into sapphire stone.
- Sapphire Price
The price of sapphire is evaluated based on a number of different factors, the most important being color. Cornflower blue sapphires from Kashmir are considered most valuable due to their heavily saturated color. Blue sapphire is often mined in large carat sizes, another factor that adds to the gem’s value. The most expensive sapphire ever sold weighed a whopping 392.52 carats, and cost more than $17 million!
- Famous Sapphires
Several famous sapphires have emerged over the centuries, including the Star of India, the Rockefeller Sapphire, and the Logan Blue Sapphire. But perhaps the most well-known sapphire is that of Princess Diana’s engagement ring. The 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire was seen as an unusual choice for Lady Diana, as it was featured in one of Garrard’s catalogues, making it available to the general public. Typically, a royal engagement ring would be a custom design not accessible to commoners. But, as many remember, Diana was known as the “people’s princess,” and this is just one example of why. Nowadays, this legendary sapphire is worn by Prince William’s wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. He proposed with his mother’s ring in 2010, keeping her legacy alive through this beautiful blue gem.
- Color Change Sapphire
An elusive variety of sapphire exists that has the unique ability to change color when viewed under different sources of light. Color changing sapphire tends to have a blue hue during daylight that changes to deep violet under incandescent light. This rare form of sapphire is mined from locations around the world, including Cambodia, Tanzania, and even here in the United States. These types of sapphires are valued based on the strength of their color change, either weak, moderate, or strong.