The sapphire is most famous for its blue coloration. While some gemstones have a paler hue than others do, the most noted gems have an almost velvety appearance of a deep, rich blue that not even a change of light sources can alter. That said, it is not unusual to find colorless stones, those with pink hues or those that feature some gray. Coloration depends on the amount of crystalline aluminum oxide found in the stone. Jewelry aficionados prize the blue hue as the primary coloration although they will allow for secondary tonal shades of violet and even pink.
Mining operations currently unearthing these gems are found in East Africa, the United States and China. Some of the more famous pieces have come from the mines of Sri Lanka, which also features some of the oldest mines known to man, and Madagascar. By 1902, a French chemist devised a way to produce a synthetic version of the gem. A short 14 years later, a Polish scientist improved on the process. This drove down the price of the gems but did not curtail demand.
As is the case with most other gems, there is a rich tapestry of folklore that involves the sapphire. Some medieval sources suggested that God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses on tablets made of sapphire. The gemstone was used in the church to adorn the vestments of bishops and cardinals. Before long, ceremonial garb also included rings, medallions and amulets that featured the blue gem.
In medieval times, the sapphire was said to protect the wearer from evil. In a time when poisons were commonplace among courtiers hoping to end the reign of a monarch prematurely, the sapphire was thought to be a type of universal antidote. Not surprisingly, the sapphire quickly became popular among royalty.
Alchemists, too, wore the sapphire on their persons. They believed that the gem amplified their innate abilities to control spirits. Star sapphires, which have a different brilliance pattern after being cut and set, became much sought after to ward off the evil eye. Explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton considered his star sapphire to be his talisman. At the time, the gem was as famous as the explorer.
Star sapphires became the rage. The Star of India weighs 563.35 carat, which makes it one of the larger star sapphires in the world. It is said to have been mined in Sri Lanka but was taken to India by
Moors. There is may have been sold to European gem dealers who named it after the country in which it was purchased. It is surpassed in size by the Black Star of Queensland, which weighs in at 733 carats.
Modern day sapphires are generally blue. They play beautifully off the shine of diamonds, which is why they are frequently found in settings surrounded by the stones. The gem is now found in rings, pendants and bracelets.
We hope you’ll visit our showroom on 1137 High Ridge Road in Stamford Connecticut. Peter Suchy Jewelers carries many stunning sapphire pieces in our showroom and in our eBay store.