It is not only magically beautiful, but also the second hardest gemstone in the world: the sapphire. With its beautiful, deep blue color, sapphire is one of the most popular stones incorporated into engagement rings. Since the Middle Ages, sapphire has been held in particularly high esteem. This is due, for example, to the powerful, healing effects of this precious gemstone. The birthstone of the month of September belongs to the constellations of Taurus, Virgo, Libra and Sagittarius.
The name ‘sapphire’ comes from the Latin word ‘sapphirus’ or the Greek word ‘sappheiros’, which in both languages means blue, or blue jewel. The most common colour, and the best known, is blue sapphire. Nowadays, all colours except red are called sapphire, so the meaning does not really apply here anymore.
Sapphire is a variant of the corundum mineral. Under corundum minerals we find the gemstones ruby and sapphire. Corundum is considered the crystalline form of aluminium oxide. A corundum mineral of red colour is a ruby, all other colours are called sapphire. So ruby and sapphire are actually related, but due to different chemical compositions each stone can have a different colour. The different colours of this mineral occur because parts of elements like chrome, iron and titanium mix in the corundum mineral. This particular mineral usually forms hexagonal crystals. Some sapphires are cabochon-cut (a cutting technique that makes a gemstone more convex). Occasionally, with these cut stones, a star can be seen in the stone. This is called star sapphire.
Originally, sapphire was mined in Ceylon, Sri Lanka. This is the oldest place to find this special gemstone. A long time ago, sapphires were also found in the city of Ratnapura, which means gem city in Sinhalese. Nowadays, more places have been discovered where sapphire can be found, such as China, Laos, Kenya, Cambodia, Tanzania, Nigeria, the United States (from the state of Montana), Australia and Madagascar.
For a while (especially in the 1980s), Australia was very important for the extraction of sapphire, until the colour of this sapphire came into disrepute. On Madagascar, sapphire was found for the first time in the early nineties. Since this discovery Madagascar is very important for the extraction of sapphire. The most beautiful sapphires came from India (Kashmir) until 1930 and are therefore called Kashmir sapphires.
As said, the blue sapphire is by far the most famous and the most popular. However, the other colours of sapphire are also very special, but rarer. Every colour sapphire has a different effect. Some other colours of sapphire are for example:
Besides these five colours there are more colours, most of them are different shades of the ones mentioned above.
Sapphire is popular to be used in engagement rings. This is mainly because of the blue colour of sapphire. The famous wedding poem; “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” clearly shows that the blue colour is closely related to marriage. For centuries, sapphire has been very popular with people with royal blood. In the past, sapphire was often used in clothing for royalty. Today’s royals continue this tradition with all their love. Nowadays, they do so more often in the form of jewellery. For example, Prince William asked his wife Kate Middleton to marry him in 2010 with the engagement ring of his mother Diana, consisting of a sapphire surrounded by fourteen diamonds. The ring itself is made of 18-carat white gold. The inspiration for this ring comes from Queen Victoria’s favourite brioche in 1840. It looked similar to Kate Middleton’s engagement ring, only slightly larger. This brioche is now in the possession of Queen Elizabeth.
The engagement ring that first belonged to Lady Di and now belongs to Princess Kate is the most famous and popular engagement ring in the world. There are still many people today who would love to have an engagement ring like Kate’s.
Sapphire has a very special effect, although people nowadays believe in other powers of the stone than in the past. In addition, the powers associated with the gemstone can vary from country to country or area to area. In the past, people were convinced that sapphire protected against possible magical powers and witchcraft. The beautiful blue stone would also have a healing effect, for example, it would reduce fever and protect against psychological complaints and problems in the brains (think of epilepsy). People even believed that sapphire would promote immortality. Although people had sapphire to protect themselves from witches, they in turn used the same gem to be able to look into the future, for example. Besides its healing properties, sapphire was a symbol of wisdom, power and wealth. Because of its blue colour, the colour of the sky, the stone was said to possess special properties and powers. Greece probably made sapphire its national stone because of its sky-blue colour. In India, people were convinced that sapphire would provide the opening of the third eye. This would give people access to ultimate wisdom and insight.
In Persia they believed that the sky was coloured blue because the sun reflected the blue colour of sapphire upwards. Amongst clergymen, sapphire was a popular stone. This was probably because in the Bible, sapphire was depicted as the stone that brought peace to the soul. According to the Bible, sapphire is said to induce feelings of utter devotion. Furthermore, clerics wore sapphire in the form of jewellery or as a decoration on their clothes as a symbol of heaven. In the twelfth century, clerics were even ordered to wear sapphire visibly. This was ordered by the then Pope Innocent.
Nowadays, sapphire symbolizes above all love, sincerity, purity and truth. Sapphire has a strong positive effect on the psyche and the human brain. It therefore ensures mental health, stress reduction and it can have a painkilling effect.