PHYSICAL AND OPTICAL PROPERTIES OF SAPPHIRE
Sapphire, like ruby, is a variety of corundum. This mineral is an aluminum oxide with the chemical composition Al2 O3. Sapphire can come in many colors depending on the coloring elements it contains: iron and titanium for blue stones, iron for yellow and green stones, vanadium for violets, chromium for pink… Its crystalline system is trigonal. Its hardness is very high: 9 on the Mohs scale which includes ten grades, the highest of which corresponds to diamond. It has a density of 3.95 to 4.03, its luster is vitreous, its pleochroism is strong. Some sapphires have no luminescence, others have an apricot color.
All varieties of corundum that are not red are placed in the sapphire category, including leuco-sapphire, colorless, and padparadscha, of an incredible hue between pink and orange: its name comes from a word sanskrit meaning lotus flower...
The blue sapphire is the best known. Light blue, gray blue, dark blue, all shades are possible. Royal Blue and Cornflower Blue have a deep hue and are very popular.
Pink sapphire ranges from pastel to bright pink, and the most valuable are the least purple.
Yellow sapphire is not the most sought after because it is often less bright and clear than the others.
Green sapphires are quite rare in radiant cut.
Orange sapphires are very rare, and you have to be careful: most of those found on the market are tinted stones, unless you have an adequate certificate.
Vivid purple sapphires are highly sought after because they are rare, especially in large sizes.
MAIN SAPPHIRE DEPOSITS
Sapphire is formed either in magmatic rocks, or in the boundary zones between pegmatites (main constituents of the Earth's mantle) and adjacent rocks, or finally in metamorphic rocks such as gneiss and micaschists. Sapphires that have resisted the erosion of the rocks that housed them can be found in the alluvial deposits.
The sapphire is more common than its twin the ruby. They are found all over the world, such as in Australia, Brazil, Madagascar. The most important deposits, and those which contain the most beautiful stones are generally in Asia: the mines of Kashmir, in India, in Sri Lanka where cornflower (color of blueberry) is produced, in the mines of Mogok in Burma...
To choose the right sapphire, you must pay attention to several criteria:
- The color: the sapphire must be a beautiful intense and deep blue, without being too dark as this would reduce its transparency. You should also know that sapphires lose some of their luster under an incandescent lamp, while they reveal all their luster in sunlight.
- Transparency: sapphires generally have fewer inclusions than rubies. It is better to prefer a stone with great clarity, even if a light veil, which is called "silk", can have its charm.
- the Cut: it is difficult because the raw sapphire is rarely homogeneous. The lapidary must therefore decide in which part he is going to cut the gem so that it is the most beautiful. The oval cut or the cushion cut reveal all the brilliance of the sapphire, but there are also hearts, pears, circles...
Sapphires are often heated to 1300 degrees to intensify their color and lessen the visibility of inclusions.
STORIES AND LEGENDS AROUND SAPPHIRE
The word sapphire comes from the Hebrew sappir, which means “the most beautiful thing”. This word would find its roots in the Sanskrit "sauriatna", passing through the Chaldean, the Greek and then the Latin "sapphirus".
Sapphire has sometimes been confused with lapis lazuli. Thus, some think that the Tables of the Law received by Moses on Mount Sinai were in sapphire, others in lapis lazuli. This last rock was sometimes called sapphire in Europe, until the 12th century.
The Egyptians associated the sapphire with truth and justice.
Charlemagne wore sapphire jewelry given to him by a caliph in the ninth century. In filigree gold and adorned with precious stones, it was added in the 19th century to a large cabochon sapphire through which we can see what is considered a fragment of the True Cross. This treasure from Reims Cathedral is kept in the Palais de Tau.
From the 13th century, on the decision of Pope Innocent III, the cardinals of the Catholic Church began to wear a ring with a sapphire on their right hand, the one that makes the gesture of blessing.
VIRTUES AND BENEFITS OF SAPPHIRE
The sapphire would have virtues both physically and spiritually.
It would strengthen eyesight, fight fever and stop nosebleeds if applied to the forehead. It would have a beneficial action on the hair, the skin and the nails, fighting against baldness for example.
It would help to treat problems of nervous origin, rheumatism, gout, joint pain.
From a psychic point of view, it symbolizes honesty, truth, fidelity. It would help its bearer to carry out his meditations well, to rise on the spiritual level. The medieval saint Hildegard of Bingen claimed that by licking it frequently, one could become more intelligent!
ASTROLOGICAL CORRESPONDENCES OF SAPPHIRE
The blue sapphire is especially linked to the sign of Libra, by its night color which evokes the autumnal equinox. Others associate him with Taurus, helping him to come to terms with himself and listen to his intuition. In Chinese astrology, it is associated with the Tiger and is sometimes called the Third Eye, for its ability to increase intuition, as with Taurus. Sapphire is the birthstone of September children. Sapphire weddings correspond to the 16th wedding anniversary.
The Science of Sapphire
Sapphire is composed mainly of corundum, a form of aluminum oxide that is crystalline and that also makes up the biggest part of ruby's composition, making them highly related and differentiated mostly by their colors.
Being clear blue its natural and most associated tonality, if impurities are present while it was formed, it can adopt different colors, such as green, pink, white, black or virtually any other or combination of others.
It gets its blue color from iron and titanium and the most famous mining sources for sapphires are located in India and throughout the Asian continent, but they can be found all over the world.
It has a trigonal hexagonal scalenohedral crystal system and a Mohs hardness of 9.
fancy color sapphire
Yellow and green sapphires are also commonly found. Pink sapphires deepen in color as the quantity of chromium increases. The deeper the pink color the higher their monetary value as long as the color is tending towards the red of rubies.
Sapphires also occur in shades of orange and brown, and colorless sapphires are sometimes used as diamond substitutes in jewelry. Paparadsha sapphires often draw higher prices than many of even the finest blue sapphires. Recently, more sapphires of this color have appeared on the market as a result of a new artificial treatment method that is called "lattice diffusion".
Padparadscha is a pink-orange corundum, with a low to medium saturation and light tone, originally being mined in Sri Lanka, but also found in deposits in Vietnam and parts of Africa. Padparadscha sapphires are rare; the rarest of all is the totally natural variety, with no sign of treatment.
Sapphire throughout History
Like most gemstones, sapphire takes its name from a Latin word – sapphirus – meaning “blue”, and virtually every ancient civilization in History fell in love with this luxurious stone.
Until the 11 th century, sapphire was considered a privilege for European kings and clergy, for it was believed that it could serve as a powerful shield against the jealousy that their people could feel given the gargantuan riches and powers that kings and clergy have.
During the Renaissance period, the wealthy elitist minority found in sapphire the best way to show their status and jewelry worth fortunes was a common gift to seduce lovers or increasing one's influence and connection with relevant members from that same elite.
Those who possessed sapphire gems believed that it was the most effective way to prevent their wealth and fate to ever change and to maintain their ever-growing prosperity.
In ancient Egypt, sapphire was seen as a protective talisman that could keep evil spirits and other haunting creatures of the night away from its bearer and, therefore, was the favorite stone of travelers and those that dealt with the occult world.
Sapphire's healing properties
This mesmerizing gemstone is said to drive its bearer to its own destination, bringing out from one's heart and soul the best possible qualities that can allow one's dreams to materialize.
Sapphire is connected to success in romance and to attract internal bliss and happiness, keeping its bearer always motivated to keep seeking his goals without ever letting go of his belief in himself and hope that a higher power will make sure that everything will go right.
Those facing serious depression and an undesired flow of negative thoughts, find in sapphire a magical cure that restores balance and aligns all planes of the individual's reality.
By attracting good luck and bringing dreams to a state of accomplishment, sapphire is known for its everlasting effect of calmness, serenity and joy.
Being ranked so high in Mohs scale of hardness, sapphires don't require any special treatment when it comes to washing them.
A simple solution of warm and soapy water is enough to ensure that it's effectively cleansed, but those with ultrasonic cleaners and steamers might find in them the right tool to bring their sapphires to life.