Ten things you never knew about sapphires
Who doesn't love sapphires? These divine gemstones have captured our hearts for centuries with their deep blue hue and mesmerising sparkle. Used to adorn jewellery, crowns, and even religious artefacts, sapphires remain incredibly popular to this day.
Whether you’re looking for a timeless piece of jewellery or curious to learn more about this beautiful stone’s rich history, we have plenty of fascinating facts to share with you – from its chemical makeup to its dazzling 'star effect'.
1. Sapphires & Rubies Are Twins
Sapphires and rubies belong to the same mineral family known as corundum. Both gemstones are composed of aluminium oxide and trace elements that deliver an array of vibrant colours. While rubies exhibit a deep red hue, sapphires are known for their captivating shade of blue. The distinction between the two is based solely on their colour variation within the corundum family.
Sapphire Oval and Diamond Chaos RingA magnificent blue sapphire and diamond ring. This stunning blue oval sapphire centre has been rubover set in a beautifully designed platinum mount.
2. Sapphires Have a Rich & Royal History
These gemstones have long been associated with royalty – symbolising nobility, wisdom and faithfulness. One notable example is the blue sapphire engagement ring Prince William gave Kate Middleton. This ring previously belonged to Princess Diana, adding to its historical significance and sentimental value.
We discussed the properties and history of this ring in a recent magazine entry, which you can read in full here. The famous British Crown Jewels also feature several notable sapphires, including the Stuart Sapphire and the Prince Albert Sapphire.
3. Blue Is Not the Only Hue
Although deep blue is the most well-known colour, these gemstones come in various hues, such as pink, yellow, green, purple and orange. These colours are created by the different trace elements within the corundum structure.
Pink Sapphire Oval Cluster Diamond RingA stunning unheated oval pinkish orange sapphire and diamond ring.
4. The Largest Sapphire Was Found in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, is renowned for its sapphire production. The largest sapphire ever recorded, known as the Star of Adam, was discovered here. This remarkable gem weighs a staggering 1,404.49 carats and showcases a beautiful star effect, making it a true treasure of nature.
According to Simon Redfern, a mineral scientist from the University of Cambridge, the stone grew so big because of constant but slow changes in temperatures and pressures within the rocks for millions of years. If the Star of Adam is to be auctioned in the near future, it is expected to fetch at least $175 million.
5. The Famous "Star Effect"
We've already touched on this, but what exactly is this star effect? Certain sapphires display a fascinating optical phenomenon called asterism, which occurs when intersecting needle-like inclusions within the gemstone align to create a star pattern of light on the top of the sapphire. This unique characteristic adds to the allure and value of these exceptional gemstones.
6. May Have Mystical Powers
Throughout history, multiple cultures have attributed mystical powers to sapphires, believing these gemstones possess heavenly qualities. Some suggest they can release mental tension and spiritual confusion, while others consider them to offer powerful protection against evil forces. While there is no scientific basis for any of these claims, the allure and beauty of sapphires have captivated the human imagination, leading to their association with mystical properties.
Sapphire Jewellery by Diamond Rocks
Sapphires are known for their exceptional hardness, ranking 9th on the Mohs scale. Not only are sapphires resistant to scratches and abrasions – making them ideal for withstanding everyday wear – but they are also resistant to heat and many acid-based solutions. This makes them excellent gemstones for timeless jewellery pieces which can be enjoyed for generations.
8. A Shade of Pink Is Rarer You Think
While blue sapphires are the most well-known, pink sapphires hold a special allure due to their rarity. Pink sapphires come in various shades, ranging from delicate pastel hues to vibrant hot pinks. Their scarcity and unique beauty make pink sapphires highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. The late Queen Elizabeth II was well known for her stunning brooches, perhaps the most famous being a huge pink sapphire floral design. If that doesn't speak to the beauty of these gemstones, we don't know what does!
9. Untreated Sapphires Are Very Valuable
Untreated sapphires (those that have not undergone any artificial enhancements or treatments) are highly valued in the gemstone market. These natural sapphires are generally more expensive than those that have been enhanced. That said, sapphires that have undergone heat treatment – the most commonly used gemstone enhancement process – can still be of exceptional quality but may not hold the same value as untreated.
10. Colour-changing Sapphires do exist!
Sapphires that showcase different colours under different lighting conditions are called colour-change sapphires. Some of the most highly prized stones are those that switch between two intense and well-defined colours.
Whether you're drawn to the deep blue of a classic sapphire or captivated by the allure of a rare pink or yellow variation, sapphires can enhance your jewellery collection whilst remaining one of nature’s greatest treasures. You can read more about sapphires in our article dedicated to this beautiful stone.