What is Sapphire
Sapphires are considered one of the “big three” in the jewelry world, the others being emerald and ruby. The corundum family includes “fancy sapphires” that come in every color in the spectrum, as well as gray, black and brown. Sapphires can be “parti-colored” or a combination of hues and some contain a color change effect going from blue in daylight to purple in incandescent lighting. Corundum can also show a phenomenon called asterism, where a six-ray star pattern appears across a cabochon-cut stone’s curved surface. These are referred to as star sapphires.
Sapphires are mined mainly in Eastern Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, China, Madagascar, East Africa, and Montana.
Sapphire Color & Characteristics
Color is of the utmost importance when selecting a sapphire. Sapphire is available in a variety of spectral colors including blue, pink, orange, yellow, green, purple and colorless. Most sapphires are heat-treated or irradiated to enhance their color at the time they are mined. Sapphires with strong saturation, in any color, are considered the most desirable. One of the most highly treasured sapphires is called Padparadscha and exhibits a slightly pinkish-orange color.
In its purest state, corundum is colorless and while rare, they are a popular diamond alternative. Most corundum contains trace elements that create different sapphire colors. When the trace elements are iron and titanium, the corundum is blue sapphire. When chromium is present, you get a pink sapphire. Vanadium creates a purple sapphire and trace elements of iron result in a very pale yellow to green color. The more trace element present, the darker the coloring.
Clarity should be considered when selecting a sapphire. In some cases, inclusions actually make the stone more valuable, creating a velvety appearance or desired effects like asterism. Sapphires often have color banding, which looks like blue and white stripes and is treated as an inclusion. Darker sapphires may mask any color banding. They can also contain color zoning or areas of different colors within the stone.
Blue sapphires are also evaluated on the purity of their primary hue. Secondary hues include purple, violet and green with the first two being more desired as they enhance the stone and green less so. Blue sapphires of fine quality normally contain 15% purple or violet and 85% blue with no green or gray present.
Sapphire is a durable gemstone perfect for daily wear. Although there are no special precautions that need to be taken with this gemstone, they still need to be handled with care. All gems will scratch and abrade if they are not taken care of properly.
Clean with a gentle solution made specifically for jewelry. Borsheims also offers small “ultrasonic” cleaners that clean your jewelry with high-frequencies. It is important to have your jewelry professionally cleaned and checked three to four times a year. When not worn, sapphire jewelry should be stored in a jewelry box lined with soft fabric.
Sapphire jewelry comes in many different styles to fit any budget. Borsheims has a large selection of sapphire pieces in a variety of colors for gifting or personal wear. Sapphires are very popular gifts for those celebrating September birthdays, those celebrating their 5th or 45th wedding anniversary and anyone looking to add a splash of color to their outfit.