KNOW YOUR GEMS

SAPPHIRE

Velvety Blue Kashmir sapphire

Thai Sapphire

Ceylon-Sapphire

Pink Sapphire

Yellow Sapphire

Orange Sapphire

SAPPHIRE
Family Name Corundum

The popular blue 'gemstone of the soul' - the darker & more vivid the colour, the higher the quality.

History

In ancient Rome and Greece, kings and queens wore Blue Sapphires, and they firmly believed that the gem protected their owners from envy and harm. At other times it was thought that the Sapphire has the power to guard chastity, make peace between enemies, influence spirits and to reveal the secrets of oracles.

Sapphire was also used as an antidote for poison and poisonous bites and believed that the stone has the power to clear the mind and skin as well as to cure fever, colds, and ulcers.

Sapphire was even enlisted in the fight against plague, and it was owned by almost all, who could afford it. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City has an admiring and outstanding collection of Sri Lankan Sapphires. In this collection, it includes the 100 Ct. Yellow Sapphire, 100 Ct. Orange Sapphire and a 163 Ct. Blue Sapphire. Ontario Museum in Toronto has a 179.4 Ct. Yellow Sapphire from Sri Lanka.

In the Tower of London, where the British crown jewels are displayed, it reveals the British royalty and long-running love affair they had towards Sapphire. The rose-cut Saint Edward's Sapphire is one of the most prominent among them.

  • INTRODUCTION

  • Characteristics

  • TYPES

  • CARE AND CLEANING

The word Sapphire is derived from the Greek word 'Sappheiros,' referred to Lapis Lazuli. All colors of Corundum except the medium light to the dark tone of red to purple-red are described as Sapphire. The trade names of Sapphire are not based on the sources as in the case of Ruby. Sapphire and Ruby are Corundum and are same optically, chemically and physically except for impure elements which are responsible for its colour.

It is advisable to describe the colour of a particular Sapphire as yellow, blue, pink, etc. Since the word Sapphire stands alone and usually means the gem is blue, most jewelry customers believe that all Sapphires are blue and when gems and jewelry professionals use the word 'Sapphire' alone, they normally mean 'Blue Sapphire.'

Description

Sapphire is the birthstone for September. The value of Sapphires reduces considerably by the factors of unevenness of color, spots and streaked appearance and the tendency to appear purplish in artificial light. Stones which are pale or very dark and stones that are flawed or cracked have very little value.

The slight violet blue or medium dark tone is usually the most desirable. Intense orange and alexandrite like Sapphires are very highly priced, whereas dark-green stones have very little value in the gems trading industry. Pink, Yellow, Violet and Green Sapphires have got a different value in the market depending upon the intensity of its color.

Chemical formula: Al2O3
Colors: White, Colorless, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Pink, Purple, Gray, Black, Multicolored
Crystal System: Hexagonal
Refractive index: 1.76 - 1.77

Sapphires often contain minor inclusions of tiny, slender Rutile needles. When present, these inclusions decrease the transparency of stones and are known as silk. When in dense, parallel groupings, these inclusions can enhance by allowing polished Sapphires to exhibit asterism. Sapphires displaying asterism are known as 'Star Sapphires' which can be highly prized. Star Sapphires exist in six ray stars, though twelve-ray stars are also famous.

HARDNESS & TOUGHNESS

Hardness 9 on Mohs Scale
Toughness Usually excellent, but stones possessing large fractures or inclusions or treatments can be less durable.

Kashmir or Cashmere Sapphire: - Stones that have a blue and velvety sleepy appearance are categorized as Kashmir or Cashmere Sapphire. These are the most desired category and are less transparent compared to other Sapphires. These categories of stones were mined from Kashmir. Kashmir terminology was later used to define top quality Sapphires extracted from anywhere else which exhibited the same color similar to that belonging to Kashmir.

Burma or Oriental Sapphire: - Excellent quality stones that exhibit a vibrant blue color and can have a slight tinge of violet are defined as Burma or Oriental Sapphires. The Burma stones appear inkier under artificial light, and this appearance differentiates them from Kashmir stones.

Siam, Siamese or Thai Sapphire:- This category of Sapphires appear dark blue even in daylight. Their colour is also defined as blue-black. The term SIAM Sapphire is used to describe stones found close to Kashmir, in England, whereas in America this title was applied for poor grade sapphires.

Ceylon Sapphire: - Light grayish blue to light blue-violet, reasonably brilliant stones are named as Ceylon Sapphires. Some of the stones of this category sapphires have an unusual amount of 'silk' which reduces the brilliance and adds a grayish color. Uneven color zoning is another striking characteristic of this category of stones; however, top-grade Sri Lankan Sapphires belong to the most excellent grade of Sapphire.

Montana Sapphire: - Sapphires which are produced from the deposits in Montana in the USA are known as Montana Sapphire. These stones are transparent, blue and are described as having steel or electric blue colour.

African Sapphire: - African Sapphires exhibit a colour change, mostly steel blue to green or purple. Sapphires from Africa come in all varieties of pastel colours: light blue, light violet, blue violet, red violet, pale orange, pale yellow, steel gray, and dark brownish orange.

Australian Sapphire: - These stones are very inky dark and have an intense green to very dark violet-blue dichroism and are mined in Australia. Strong color zoning and feathers are the characteristics of Australian corundum. Australian characteristics sapphires are found elsewhere too.

Type of Cleaning Steam Cleaning Ultrasonic Cleaning Warm, Soapy water
Needs Expert Advise Usually safe Needs Expert Opinion Safe, but avoid strong detergents and vigorous scrubbing on oiled stones