It is not hard for me to write about sapphires, quite simply they are my favourite gemstone. It is therefore no surprise that every significant occasion in my life has been marked by a sapphire set piece of jewellery, large or small they simply hypnotise me.
Sapphire is the gemstone variety of corundum, consisting of aluminium oxide and measuring 9.0 on Moh’s hardness scale sapphires can be worn every day. Although the most well-known colour is blue, they come in every colour of the rainbow (apart from red which is a ruby – see July’s blog). In fact there are no limits to the colour, tone or saturation in a sapphire, it’s part of their magic.
Although sapphires come in a variety of colours, whenever someone says sapphire they are referring to blue sapphire. A red sapphire is called a ruby. All other sapphires are referred as fancy sapphires. Usually these sapphires are specified with their colour for example yellow sapphire, colourless sapphire, black sapphire, pink sapphire, orange sapphire, green sapphire and so on. These fancy sapphires have a market of their own.
However, as my favourite colour for interior décor, fashion and even my car is blue, this is no different for my choice in sapphires. For blue sapphires the most prized are the mid velvety toned, or ‘royal’ blue and this very much resonates with me personally. But describing colour in gemstones generates significant debate in the jewellery trade.
Often sapphire colour has been allocated to a particular geographical location, but precise sources of precious gemstones should only be stated with accompanying certification from diagnostic inclusions or documented traceability. Often a personal preference, it is still a source of endless fasciation for me. So let me take you on a journey…
The term ‘Classic Kashmir’ has been used for sapphire sourced from the high altitude mining area in the Himalayas, on the north west Indian border with Pakistan. These have a ‘sleepy’ or ‘velvet’ appearance caused from tiny rutile inclusions scattering light. Historically this was a very important sources of fine sapphires. Most deposits were exhausted after the 1920’s so Kashmir sapphires today have an even greater cachet.
For thousands of years fine sapphires have been found in Sri Lanka (formally called ‘Ceylon’) and today are still the top producer in the world of fine, untreated stones. A Sri Lankan sapphire is unique because it has a light and bright blue colour.
Burma (now called Myanmar since gaining independence from the British) is another long-time producing country of fine blue sapphires. Usually Burmese sapphires are described as ‘royal’ blue, typically on the darker side of blue.
Each sapphire however, should be graded by its visual appearance of sheer beauty. For me this was most pertinent when I first I saw my now engagement ring, I was immediately lost inside the stone and I was instantly drawn to it. I wasn’t actively looking for the ring at that time, but the moment I saw this one I just couldn’t put it down, the colour is so personal, it is absolutely my idea of perfection.
I have often wondered why I love the colour blue so much; I think it maybe because of eye colour? Eyes are described as the ‘windows to the soul’ and so many of my loved ones have beautiful blue eyes of various shades. They too are therefore individual, precious and irreplaceable, perhaps why so many significant moments in our lives are represented and celebrated with the gifting and wearing of unique gemstones.