Sapphire Gemstone | Variety of Corundum

 

six faceted sapphires laid out in the shape of a triangle

 

An Introduction to Sapphire


Sapphire is the birthstone for the month of September.  Its name comes from the Greek word 'sappheiros' meaning "blue stone" but it's generally believed that over many years this name was misused and originally referred to the stone known today as lapis lazuli.

Sapphire and ruby which are both gemstone varieties of the mineral corundum are almost identical from a geological perspective.  The most obvious difference is their colour and whilst red corundum is known as ruby, all other colours are known as sapphire.  Although sapphires can be found in several different colours pink and blue tend to be the best known and the most popular. 

Blue corundum is far more abundant than the red variety due to the larger occurrence of chromium, iron, and titanium which is the cause of the stone's colour.  Corundum which is the second hardest mineral known to man is a naturally occurring crystalline form of aluminium oxide which is a chemical compound of aluminium and oxygen.

Some stones can exhibit a star-like optical phenomenon known as asterism that's caused by the reflection of light off needle-like rutile inclusions.  Rutile is a natural mineral that's made up primarily of titanium dioxide.  In order for asterism to be seen the gemstone must be carefully cut and polished as a cabochon.

Many of the world's finest sapphires are heat treated in order to enhance colour and improve clarity but the practice is not new and can be traced back at least as far as Ancient Rome.  Stones which have not been heat treated are considered to be extremely unusual.  Although Sri Lanka and Madagascar are currently the world's largest exporters, sapphires can also be found in Myanmar (formerly Burma), Australia, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Kenya and China.

 

 

line of faceted purple sapphire gemstones in various shades of purple

 

Sapphires in Shades of Purple

 

 

 

Famous Sapphires Around the World


This highly sought after stone has been associated with royalty and nobility throughout history and both Princess Anne and Diana Princess of Wales wore engagement rings that featured a blue sapphire.  Another two famous stones are the Stuart Sapphire and St Edward's Sapphire both of which form part of the British Crown Jewels.  The Logan Sapphire one of the largest faceted gem-grade blue sapphires in existence is housed in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Other famous stones include the Black Star of Queensland which before the discovery of the Star of Adam was the largest star sapphire ever to have been mined.  The Star of Adam was found in Sri Lanka in 2015 and its name comes from a Muslim belief that Adam went to Sri Lanka after being expelled from the Garden of Eden and lived out his days on Adam's Peak which is a well known mountain not far from the city of Ratnapura.  The Star of India which was also mined in Sri Lanka is currently housed in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

 

 

Sapphire for Crystal Healing


When used in crystal healing stones are believed to improve concentration, mental clarity and help to focus the mind.  They have the ability to find solutions to problems and are said to remove mental tension bringing inner peace and serenity.

 

 

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Further Reading

More Facts from Wikipedia