(Last Updated on : 27/12/2012)
Sapphire is the gem-variety of Corundum. The ancient Persians believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire whose reflection gave the sky its colour. A historian of old Damigeron wrote that Sapphire was worn by kings of ancient times to protect them from harm. It was also believed that sapphire would protect the wearer from envy and attract divine favour. Legend has it that if a poisonous snake is 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.
At one time, any blue gem material was called sapphire. The finest sapphire colour is rich, velvety cornflower blue. This is called 'Kashmir' out of deference to the traditional source of the finest quality. Currently this gem is produced in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Montana, Australia and Africa.
Different Colours of Sapphire
Sapphires are found in a variety of colours. People generally think that sapphires are blue in colour. However, colourless, pink, orange, green, golden, yellow, purple and black are available. Sapphire is the birthstone of the month of September. Corundum, which is sapphires mineral name, occurs in red, but this is known as Ruby
. A particularly lovely pinkish-orange is referred to as 'padparadscha', which is taken from the Sinhalese for 'lotus
-coloured. ' Nowadays, sapphire is classified by its colour in the gem trade i.e. green colour sapphire is 'Green Sapphire'. Colourless sapphire is usually called 'White Sapphire. Sapphire is always heat treated to produce, intensify or lighten colour. It also improves colour uniformity and appearance. Heat treatment of sapphire is performed at the sapphire mines.
Types of Sapphire
There are some varieties of sapphire. One of them can be mentioned as Kashmir
Sapphire. These are the sapphires with a distinct velvety-blue colour. Another one is cornflower Sapphire. This is actually the synonym of Kashmir sapphire. Cornflower Blue Sapphire is another variety. Star Sapphire is the one displaying asterism.
There is some colour changing Sapphire. This Sapphire exhibits a different colour in natural and artificial light. Bi-coloured Sapphire is the Sapphire with more than one colour. Cat's Eye
Sapphire is basically the Sapphires exhibiting cat's eye effect, fancy Sapphire is known as any sapphire with a colour other than blue. Verneuil Sapphire is synthetic and laboratory-grown sapphire.
The 'oriental' prefixes are not used anymore, but they are still occasionally seen. Below is a list of all the 'oriental' sapphires.
Oriental Topaz: Straw yellow, gem quality sapphire,
Oriental Emerald: Light to dark green, gem quality sapphire,
Oriental Amethyst: Violet to pink, gem quality sapphire,
Oriental Peridot: Yellow-green, gem quality sapphire; and
Oriental White sapphire: Colourless, gem quality sapphire.
Some other varieties of sapphire, which are rarely used, can be mentioned as follows:
Australian Sapphire: Dark blue to nearly black sapphire
Bengal Amethyst: Purple sapphire
Blue Alexandrite: Synonym of colour changing sapphire
Burma Sapphire: Synthetic, laboratory-grown blue sapphire
: Synonym of Burma sapphire (above)
Ceylon Sapphire: Light blue sapphire
Indian Topaz: Yellow to yellow-Brown sapphire
King Topaz: Yellow to yellow-brown sapphire
Rose Kunzite: Synthetic pink sapphire
Star Topaz: Yellow star sapphire
Ultralite: Blue sapphire
There are also some false names of sapphire. They are Brazilian Sapphire is the blue tourmaline
or blue topaz, Gold Sapphire is the lapis lazuli
with shiny pyrite sprinkles, Lynx Sapphire is the iolite, Sapphire Spinel
is the blue spinel, Hope Sapphire is the synthetic blue spinel, Lux Sapphire is the iolite, Sapphire Quartz
is the massive blue quartz
or chalcedony, Water Sapphire is the iolite, Uralian Sapphire is the blue tourmaline.
Fine, needle-like inclusions are the things that give sapphires their velvety quality. These inclusions are often numerous enough to make the stone translucent and are oriented properly. At that time, they allow light to be reflected in such a way that a star floats across the top of the stone with movement. The three intersecting rays were thought to represent faith, hope and destiny.
Sapphire in its many colours is fashioned into timeless pieces that compliment many styles. It is either faceted or cabochon i.e. dome-shape for use in rings
, ear rings
and pins. It may be linked between expanses of chains
for wrist or neckwear.