Traditionally, sapphire symbolizes nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. It has decorated the robes of royalty and clergy members for centuries. Its extraordinary color is the standard against which other blue gems - from Topaz to Tanzanite - are measured. For centuries, sapphire has been associated with royalty and romance.
In folklore, history, art, and consumer awareness, sapphire has always been associated with the color blue. Its name comes from the Greek word "sappheiros", which probably referred to lapis lazuli. Most jewelry customers think all sapphires are blue, and when gem and jewelry professionals use the word “sapphire” alone, they normally mean “blue sapphire. Sapphire was first discovered in Kashmir around 1880, high up in the Himalayas at about 4,500 meters. The mine was mainly productive during the period between 1882 and 1887, yielding sapphire crystals of exceptional size and quality. Kashmir sapphires are so highly valued because the finest specimens have a superb royal blue color and a velvety texture due to fine silk inclusions. Kashmir sapphires are so scarce that they rarely appear even at auctions at Sotheby's and Christie's though they draw records prices when top stones come on the market. A cushion cut 22.66 carats Kashmir sapphire, set in a pendant surrounded by diamonds, was sold at Christie's auction in 2007 for $3,064,000, setting a new record for the highest price paid for a sapphire. Then an even larger Kashmir sapphire cushion -- 42.28 carats - was sold for $3.5 million by Christie's in Hong Kong in November 2008, setting yet another record. Some of the best Burma, Ceylon and Madagascar sapphires come close, but Kashmir sapphire continues to have a nearly mythical reputation in the gemstone world.
Vivid And Saturated - Sapphire’s blue can be vivid and saturated like it’s lit from within.
Delicate Silk - Sapphire often contains delicate intersecting needles of rutile that gemologists call silk.
The World’s most famous engagement ring - Kate Middleton’s and Princess Diana’s is adorned with flawless 18 Carat Blue Sapphire.
Besides blue Sapphire and Ruby, the corundum family also includes so-called “fancy sapphires.” They come in violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and intermediate hues. Fancy sapphires are generally less available than blue ones, and some colors are scarce, especially in very small or very large sizes. Still, fancy sapphires create a rainbow of options for people who like the romance associated with this gem, but who also want something out of the ordinary. Some Sapphires exhibit the phenomenon known as color change, most often going from blue in daylight or fluorescent lighting to purple under incandescent light. Besides fancy sapphire and star corundum, there’s another interesting variety: color-change sapphire. These fascinating stones change color under different lighting. A special orangy-pink sapphire color is called Padparadscha, which means “lotus flower” in Sinhalese, the language spoken in Sri Lanka. Stones from Sri Lanka were initially the only ones labeled with this marketable name. Sri Lankans have a special affection for the color that has been traditionally linked with their country. The presence of the Padparadscha sapphires adds a special dimension to the already amazing corundum family of gems.
Pink sapphires have become more widely available since new deposits were found in Madagascar in the late 1990s. Until that time, pink sapphires were considered exceptionally rare since they were only found in a few locations around the world including Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Color has the most important influence on pink Sapphire’s value. The most highly valued pink Sapphires are deep raspberry pink to medium baby pink tones. Pink sapphires range from red to purple with weak to vivid color saturation and a lighter tone. The saturation should be as strong as possible without darkening the color and compromising brightness. Sapphires with these qualities command the highest prices per carat.
When gem experts judge color-change sapphires, they describe the color change as weak, moderate, or strong. The strength of the stone’s color change is the most important quality factor affecting its value, followed in importance by the actual colors of the stone. Pink sapphire is even rarer than blue: in some ways it has more in common with ruby than the other colors of sapphire. Gem experts often debate where ruby ends and pink sapphire begins, since pink is really just light red. But the bright pastel shades of pink sapphire, from bubblegum to raspberry, have a candy-colored beauty, all on their own. Pink Sapphires are the most feminine of gems, adding sweetness to delicate styles or a touch of romance to classic tailored designs.
In ancient Greece and Rome, kings and queens were convinced that blue sapphires protected their owners from envy and harm. During the Middle Ages, the clergy wore blue sapphires to symbolize Heaven, and ordinary folks thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings. In other times and places, people instilled sapphires with the power to guard chastity, make peace between enemies, influence spirits, and reveal the secrets of oracles.
The "Logan" Sapphire - The magnificent 423-carat Logan Sapphire was cut from a crystal mined in Sri Lanka and is one of the world’s largest faceted blue sapphires (it is about the size of an egg). It is the heaviest mounted gem in the National Gem Collection, and in its silver and gold brooch setting is framed by twenty round brilliant-cut diamonds, totaling approximately 16 carats. (read more)
"The “Star of Bombay” - This Sapphire is a 182-carat, cabochon-cut, dome-shaped violet-blue sapphire of Sri Lankan origin, forming a very distinct six-rayed star extending down to the girdle of the stone, when exposed to a direct source of light either natural or artificial. In spite of the presence of silk in the stone caused by rutile fibers, the stone has good translucency, with a rich violet-blue color. The rutile fibers are not only the cause of the milkiness of the stone but also responsible for its asterism. (read more)
The "Stuart Sapphire" - is a 104-carat, oval-shaped, cabochon cut sapphire with a rich medium blue color, the most preferred color for blue sapphires. The stone is presently set on the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain, and is one of the historic stones, together with other stones such as the Black Prince’s Ruby and the Edward’s Sapphire, adorning the Crown. (read more)
Hill's Kashmir Sapphire - The 22.66-carat Kashmir blue sapphire is an unnamed blue sapphire that once belonged to the family of the railroad magnate James J. Hill, and was incorporated as the centerpiece of a pendant to an elaborate diamond and sapphire encrusted necklace consisting of 36 other gemstones. (read more)
Rockefeller Sapphire: - In the world of gemstones there is no question that the Rockefeller Sapphire should be considered a masterpiece, the sheer scale and life of the stone being something remarkable to behold. The Rockefeller sapphire belonged to John D. Rockefeller Jr., the only heir of the Rockefeller empire. It is said that the stone was acquired from the Indian Maharaja Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of Hyderabad, in 1934. The 62.02 carat gemstone is internally flawless and retains a deep cornflower blue. (read more)
“Catherine the Great’s Blue Sapphire” - The enormous 337.10 carat Sapphire gets its name from the one time owner of this gemstone, Catherine the Great (1762-96), one of the two greatest rulers of the Romanov dynasty, that ruled Russia for more than 300 years from 1613 to 1917. “Catherine the Great’s Sapphire” is a 337.10-carat, faceted, oval-cut, deep-blue sapphire, described as a magnificent stone due to its perfect color, cut, and clarity. The value of the stone in 1951 which was estimated at around $ 250,000 seem to verify the credentials of the stone in respect of its color, cut and clarity. (read more)
The "Ruspoli" Sapphire - is also variously known as the Wooden-Spoon Seller’s Sapphire and the Great Sapphire of Louis XIV, and all three names seem to have been derived from persons who at one time had owned the sapphire during the course of its long history. The Ruspoli Sapphire is a 135.8-carat almost flawless light blue sapphire with perfect clarity and transparency and a simple cuboidal shape like a lozenge, with only six facets, equivalent to the six faces of a cuboid. The stone has only one small feather and crystal inclusion, otherwise, the gemstone is a perfectly flawless specimen. (read more)
Photos Courtesy of GIA