The exclusive club of precious gemstones is made up of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. They are precious because they are the hardest gems to find. Sapphires are the most sought-after precious gemstone after diamonds. Rubies and sapphires are actually composed of the same mineral, corundum. In fact, the only reason a ruby is not a sapphire is that rubies are true red.
They are associated with faith and loyalty, and historically have been thought to protect the wearer from harm. Up until the middle ages, sapphires were considered a cure for eye diseases and a symbol to set prisoners free. Royalty and medieval Church leaders have long worn sapphires in the West, and in the East, the sapphire was thought to protect against the evil eye. Sapphire is also the birthstone for September.
The traditional color of sapphire is blue. However, “fancy” sapphires can be found in a variety of colors: pink, green, yellow, orange, colorless, purple, light blue or dark magenta. There is even a color change sapphire that looks blue in daylight and purple or red in artificial light. To enhance color, most sapphires undergo heat treatment. This does not devalue or injure the sapphire, and will not fade over time.
The hardness of a sapphire makes the precious gemstone a great choice as a center stone or accent stone for an engagement ring. On the Mohs Hardness Scale, sapphire is rated 9/10, which second only to diamond. In other words, sapphire has the hardness of sandpaper and will not scratch or break easily.
Sapphires are second in value only to diamonds. In value, they have been historically prized for thousands of years and can be cut in almost any shape, making the lasting value of the gem unbeatable. They are slightly more affordable than diamonds, but are extremely unique in color as well as quality.
There are a few very large famous sapphires:
• The Black Star of Queensland: Found in the 1930s, the 733 carat black sapphire was used as a doorstop for ten years before the owner realized it was actually a very large gemstone.
• Logan Sapphire: This piece of Sri Lanka is the size of a hen’s egg at 423 carats.
• Star of Asia: At 330 carats, this sapphire was discovered in Myanmar and is thought to have once belonged to the Maharajah of Jodhpur in India.