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Sapphires


Blue—the color of the sky and heavens and associated with nearly all forms of water comes to be associated with issues of the spirit and the intellect. The blue sapphire is used more than any other gem in heathen and Christian magic to channel psychic powers. Sapphires have been worn by the world’s highest church dignitaries to symbolize truth, loyalty, fidelity, constancy, and chastity. The ancient worlds of Rome and Egypt revered the holy sapphire as the stone of truth and justice. To Buddhists the stone is signifies peace, friendship, and permanence and is therefore honored as a charm for marital bliss. It is for theses symbolic qualities that many women in the world choose to wear sapphires as the gem on their engagement ring. In the Christian tradition, sapphires became prominent when Pope Innocent III required cardinals and bishop’s to wear sapphire rings on their right hands when performing blessings. Interestingly, around the same time in history necromancers were using sapphires because the gems supposedly allowed them to hear voices.

Just like rubies, sapphires are chemically crystallized alumnia (Al2O3), which gives them their magnificent properties such as a high degree of hardness (H = 9), high density (D = 3.99), and high on the refractive index (n = 1.76 – 1.78). The slight traces of iron-titanium oxide found in the environment surrounding sapphire formation gives them their majestic blue color. Etymological roots in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and Arabic demonstrate the abundance of sapphires, which is to the fact that the coloring agents (impurities) are more common than those of rubies.

Sapphires are mined all over the world—Myanmar, Thailand, Tanzania, Cambodia, Australia, Madagascar, and Montana, USA. Burmese and Kashmir blue sapphires are the most sought after gemstones. Kashmir sapphires have a deep velvet blue that is sometimes described as cornflower blue and Burmese blue sapphires are an intense, bright blue, with a hint of purple.

A photo of a yellow gold and blue sapphire ring.

Gold Blue Sapphire Ring
Stanislav Doronenko

Star Sapphire

Synthetic Sapphire

While sapphires are known for their blue color, they also come in shades of pink, purple, yellow, and orange. In an age of technology when gemstones can be artificially produced it is becoming increasingly important to have a certificate of origin for sapphires.

One really cool sapphire is called Padparadscha, which is Sinhalese for a type of lotus flower. Padparadscha has the quality of showing pink and orange simultaneously. They are only found in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and they are rare and extremely expensive. Buyers beware, however, orange sapphires are often offered in place of real Padparadscha and sometimes pink sapphire can be treated with beryllium to create the same effect. In very rare cases, some sapphires have the ability to change color depending on the light source. For instance, they might show blue-violet in daylight and red or reddish-violet in artificial light. Clearly, sapphires are amazing gems and their beauty commands our thoughtful respect.

 

 

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