Spotlight: Scintillating Sapphires
, by Talia Wallis, 6 min reading time
, by Talia Wallis, 6 min reading time
Sapphire is a gemstone that has captured the attention of people throughout history. It is a member of the corundum mineral family, with a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, making it an excellent choice for daily wear jewellery. Sapphires are found in several locations throughout the world, with some of the most famous and sought-after varieties originating from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Burma (now Myanmar).
Ceylon sapphires are known for their bright and vibrant colours, with blue being the most popular. Sri Lankan sapphires are famous for their clarity and are often referred to as "water sapphires" due to their translucent nature. The finest Ceylon sapphires have a cornflower blue colour with a soft violet tint. Sapphires from Sri Lanka have been mined for thousands of years, and remain one of the most sought-after gemstones. Burmese sapphires are also highly sought after due to their rich colour and rarity. They are known for their deeper blue colour, with a velvety texture that is highly prized. Burmese sapphires are often found in alluvial deposits, making them difficult to mine. The finest Burmese sapphires have a deep, rich blue colour with a hint of purple.
One of the rarest and most valuable varieties of sapphire is the Padparadscha sapphire. This stone is named after the lotus blossom, which has a similar pinkish-orange colour. The term "Padparadscha" comes from the Sinhalese word for lotus blossom, and it is used to describe a sapphire with a delicate blend of pink and orange hues. Padparadscha sapphires are exceptionally rare and can command high prices in the market. They are mostly found in Sri Lanka, and their colour is due to chromium and iron in the crystal lattice structure.
Yellow sapphires are another variety that is popular among gemstone enthusiasts. They range in colour from pale lemon to rich golden-honey hue and are often used in jewellery as a symbol of prosperity and good luck. Yellow sapphires are found in several locations throughout the world, including Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Tanzania. Pink sapphires-found in a spectrum of pale pink to deep magenta, are often used in engagement rings as a symbol of love and devotion. The most valuable pink sapphires are those that have a deep, rich colour with excellent transparency and clarity. Pink sapphires are also found in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Myanmar. Green sapphires are highly popular among collectors and are found in shades that vary from light green to deep forest green. The most valuable green sapphires are those that have a rich, emerald-like colour and are often used in fine jewellery pieces. Browse our full collection of sapphire rings.
Arguably the most famous sapphire- The Star of India, is a greyish-blue colour and weighs around 560 carats. It was discovered in Sri Lanka over 300 years ago and was owned by a Maharaja in India. The Star of India has an unusual characteristic that makes it even more valuable - it displays a star pattern when viewed under a single light source. This is known as an asterism and is caused by the presence of tiny needle-like inclusions within the crystal structure of the stone. It was acquired by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in 1901 and unfortunately part of a collection of gems that were stolen in 1964. Before the thieves were caught and the gems were recovered, the Star of India was hidden in a bus station locker for several days. It remains one of the most popular exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History and has been the subject of several more attempts at theft over the years. However, it remains safely in the museum's collection, where visitors can marvel at the fascinating history of this rare and valuable sapphire.
Sapphire has been worn by royalty and nobility throughout history, and some of the most famous sapphire rings in the world are associated with these iconic figures. One of the most well-known sapphire rings is the engagement ring given by Prince Charles to Princess Diana. The ring features a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds and is now worn by Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
Sapphire is also well-loved historically by film-stars. Elizabeth Taylor had a vast collection of jewellery, one prized piece being The Bulgari Trombino Ring. The ring features a large cabochon sapphire set in a dome-shaped mount made of yellow gold. The sapphire is surrounded by pavé-set diamonds, which add an extra layer of sparkle to the already stunning piece. The ring was designed by the famous Italian jewellery house, Bulgari, in the 1960s. Taylor was a fan of Bulgari's bold and colourful designs, and the Trombino Ring was a perfect example of their style. Taylor was often photographed wearing the Trombino Ring, both on and off the screen. The ring quickly became one of her signature pieces of jewellery, and is now considered an iconic example of 20th-century jewellery design.
Joan Crawford, a legendary Hollywood actress from the 1920s to the 1960s, owned a stunning "Star of Bombay" sapphire ring. The ring features a large, cabochon-cut sapphire surrounded by diamonds set in platinum. The sapphire is over 70 carats and is named after the famous Star of Bombay sapphire which is part of the British Crown Jewels. Joan Crawford loved sapphires so much that the press often referred to their colour as "Joan Blue.'
The style and design of sapphire rings from by-gone eras continue to influence the jewellery world today, and the beauty and allure of sapphires continues to inspire- sapphires have a glowing reputation that is as strong as ever.