A sapphire is a crystallised aluminium oxide, and has exactly the same chemical composition as ruby. Only small amounts of colouring trace elements separate them. Sapphires come in varying qualities from the dark, blackish blue usually sourced from Australia, to the beautiful cornflower blue of the Sri Lankan stones. As well as differing qualities, Sapphire can be found in many colours - pink, yellow, lilac, green, white, and even orange.
Sri Lanka is the world’s largest producer of sapphires over 100 carats and they are a lighter shade of blue. Stones from the Mogok valley in Burma are very highly regarded, and many star sapphires come from there. Dark blue sapphires are found in New South Wales and Queensland Australia. Gems from Western Cambodia are also highly prized, but usually small. China and Nigeria produce dark stones and in the US, Montana sapphires are prized for their natural metallic blue colour. They are not subjected to any treatment, as sapphires are normally heat treated to eliminate impurities and enhance the colour and clarity- this treatment is usually permanent. Sapphires also come from Tanzania, Brazil, Kenya, Malawi and Columbia.
The gem’s inclusions reflect light that yields a faint sheen referred to as “silk.” The most transparent, colourless variety of sapphires are known as “Leucosapphire.” Some have streaks of pale colour inside, some have that slightly silky sheen and in strong light, their colour intensifies. Sapphires are usually given round or oval cuts but rectangular or square cuts are also possible.
The sapphire is the birthstone for the month of September. The name sapphire is derived from the Latin word ““saphirus” and the Greek word “sapheiros,” both meaning blue. The Natural History Museum of New York is home to one of the most famous sapphires in the world, the “Star of India” a sapphire of 563 carats. The sapphire has for a long time, been identified with chastity, piety, and repentance. It brings wisdom and truth, increases perception and the understanding of justice. It helps find peace of mind and serenity and promotes a life of sincerity, helping preserve one’s innocence while learning life’s truths. Sapphires also are associated with romantic love, representing fidelity and romantic devotion. They are also used for a quest to increase one’s faith, hope and joy and to keep thoughts pure and heavenly.