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Sapphires

Colours

Sapphires come in all colours, including bi- and tri-colours
and colour-change stones which can appear different colours in different light.

They are most commonly known to be blue, however they can also come in pink, purple, green, yellow, white and black, along with parti sapphires which exhibit two or three colours in one stone.

Where are they mined?

Sapphires are mined around the world, but there are some
countries that produce special colours unique to their location. Australian sapphires are known for their rich, dark blue colour, and famous parti colours which feature a mix of blue, green and yellow zones all within an individual stone. Australian sapphires are traceable, with prominent mines including Inverell, Rubyvale and Lava Plains.

Sapphires mined in Sri Lanka are unique in colour, ranging from a rich cornflower blue through to a pale sky blue. These stones are known as Ceylon sapphires, after the country’s colonial name, and are highly prized
within the industry for their high clarity and beautiful colour. Sri Lanka is also home to the special salmon, or orangey-pink coloured Padparadscha sapphire, which means “lotus flower” in Sinhalese, the national language.
Kashmir sapphires come from the Kashmir region in the
Himalayan mountains on the border between India and Pakistan, and are known for their intense, velvety blue colour. These sapphires are the most highly valued, however due to excessive mining during the 18th century, they are extremely rare.

Sapphires are also mined throughout Asia, Africa and North and South America.

Qualities to look for

Sapphires vary greatly in quality and, as there are no set standards in place regarding grading, much of what to look for in an ideal stone comes down to personal preference. Sapphires generally contain inclusions and are known to display a unique type of delicate intersecting rutilation called silk, however as per most stones, the fewer inclusions the more desirable the gem. Colour zoning is also frequent in many sapphires, and quite predominantly
found in Australian sapphires. This presents as sharp areas of denser colour, or alternative colours within a stone. Heating is a common treatment used on sapphires to enhance their colour and remove silk inclusions and is considered an acceptable treatment within the industry.

How to wear

Sapphires are perfect for all occasions and have great
durability for everyday wear with a hardness of 9/10. They make beautiful feature stones in bridal jewellery, and are an easy maintenance gem for casual staple pieces.

What makes them special?

Sapphire is the birthstone for September, and the gem for the 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries.

It is one of the five cardinal gems, which are traditionally considered to be the most precious above all other gemstones.

Sapphires display an interesting quality called pleochroism, which means it displays two different colours when viewed from different angles. If a stone shows blue from one angle, and green from another, the angle from which it is cut will dictate the final colour of the finished gemstone.

As sapphires and rubies have identical mineral makeup (excluding their colour-determining trace elements), it is hotly contested whether a pink corundum should be called a sapphire or a ruby, and the final say is usually with the gemstone cutter.

Sapphire is the second hardest natural stone, after diamond, and is grown synthetically for industrial use as glass as it is extraordinarily scratch resistant. The Apple Watch Series 3 has a synthetic sapphire glass screen, and NASA uses it for their spacecraft windows.

Sapphires in history

Sapphires have been favoured throughout history by royalty, and symbolise nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. In 1981 Britain’s Prince Charles gave a 12ct Ceylon sapphire engagement ring to Lady Diana Spencer, and it became the most famous engagement ring of all time. It now belongs to Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Diana’s daughter-in-law. Before the popularisation of diamond engagement rings in the 20th century, blue sapphires were the preferred gemstone for bridal jewellery, and many antique pieces feature sapphires as the main stone.

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