Sapphires, Rubies and Emeralds are the 3 leading jewellery coloured gemstones.
Sapphires have been cherished for generations as symbols of good fortune, virtue, wisdom and Divine favour. The ancient Persians believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire, which reflected its colour to the sky. In medieval times, sapphire was regarded as a symbol of power and strength, but also of kindness and wise judgement. They have long been a choice gemstone for royalty and are often used as the accent gem in all forms of jewellery including bracelets, necklaces, rings and earrings. Most recently, Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with an 18ct. blue sapphire engagement ring (previously owned by Princess Di).
Sapphires are the most precious and valuable blue gemstone sought after due to its admirable colour, hardness, durability and lustre. While diamonds are cherished for their brilliance, sapphires are adored for their colour.
The term sapphire usually refers to the common blue variety but other colours include pink, yellow, green, orange, brown, purple, clear and red (known as rubies). Each colour has its own quality variations. The hue, tone and saturation of colour in the gemstone are the most important factors when determining the value of a sapphire. The closer you can get to” true blue” saturation, without darkening the colour and brightness, the more desirable the sapphire will be.
The Kashmir sapphire (or Cornflower Blue) with its deep, velvety, intense blue and violet tones is often regarded as the most valuable. The rare and beautiful Padparadscha Sapphire originally found in Sri Lanka bearing a pink/orange fancy colour (also referred to as sunset or salmon) is also greatly sought after as is the fancy pink sapphire generally found in Burma and Sri Lanka. Madagascar has recently also become a major source for sapphires with an intense blue colour. Sapphires mined in Yogo (Montana, USA) are famous for their saturation of colour and high quality. Australian sapphires are commonly dark blue.
Most sapphires used as gemstones are heat-treated (a standard industry practice) to intensify their blue colour and clarity. Unheated sapphires are rare and more valuable than those that are heat treated. Sapphire is a tough and enduring gem and are the second hardest gemstone to diamonds (a score of 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness).
Interesting information about sapphires:
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