Sapphires are cut from an extremely hard mineral called corundum, which is also the source of an even rarer gem, the ruby. Used in everything from necklaces to bracelets to rings, sapphires get their characteristic blue hue from iron and titanium in the mineral. A variant of the sapphire, the padparadscha, ranges in color from pink to orange and occurs only in Sri Lanka. Other sapphires are mined in North America, Russia, Africa, and Australia, but the most prized examples are found in Myanmar, India, and Thailand.
During the late-Georgian period, jewelers used sapphires to try out new gem cuts, the most popular being the rose cut and table cut. Georgian sapphires typically had enclosed backs and were set over foil. In the Victorian Era, sapphires were combined with other gemstones in so-called acrostic rings so that the first letter in the name of each stone spelled out the word "dearest," (i.e., diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, emerald, sapphire, and topaz).
By the 20th century, some of the world’s greatest examples of fine jewelry were anchored and accented by sapphires. Cosmetics queen Helena Rubinstein wore a starfish-shaped, Ecalle-designed ornament on the back of her hand, whose center was dominated by a large sapphire cabochon. Opera singer Ganna Walska wore enormous sapphires on her fingers.
Daisy Fellowes, whose grandfather was Isaac Singer (as in the sewing machine) favored sapphire brooches from Cartier. The Duchess of Windsor also shopped at Cartier for sapphires; one of her many necklaces featured no less than nine flower-like clusters of sapphires, each liberally accented with diamonds and attached to a pair of sapphire-bead chains.
The most sought-after sapphires are usually the ones of deepest blue. Kashmir sapphires are the color of cornflowers, often shading to rich purples, while those from Mynamar have a more royal-blue tint. Stones from other regions that are not as naturally blue are often cut to ensure that the meager amount of blue in the gem radiates throughout the final cut-and-polished piece (the secret is to leave the blue at the gem’s base rather than its surface).
Almost all shades of blue are generally acceptable for sapphires, even ones with gray in them, which makes the blue “steely.” Green, however, is not desirable. Unfortunately, the impurities that make most sapphires blue can also produce shades of green when the stone is held at certain angles. That’s just one reason why the skill of the cutter is so important.
Green can also occur when sapphires are heat-treated to make them more blue. In fact, heat is one of numerous treatments used to enrich the color of sapphires. For example, distr...
Last but not least is the star sapphire, whose asterism, as it is called, is the result of light playing upon the silk-like fibers within a stone. Most heat treatments diminish a stone’s asterism (the trade off for the jeweler, though, is a richer color). Some star sapphires, particularly those from Thailand and Sri Lanka, have another stone’s base glued to theirs. While this makes the gem appear larger and more imposing than it really is, over time the glue can yellow the stone.
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Quality | The ThingNew York Times (blog), August 20th
If Pomellato quietly cemented its reputation as the everyday jewelry of chic European women long ago, this new cabochon-cut coral ring is the Milanese house's most decadent party favor. A one-of-a-kind in the company's Pom Pom haute joaillerie...Read more
The travel insurance in your wallet you didn't know you hadUSA TODAY, August 19th
Even computers, cellphones and jewelry are covered by some credit cards, although for no more than $500 per incident. But at least it's ... you covered? Airfarewatchdog looked in-depth at some favorite credit card brands and found some with extensive...Read more
Police, community and calendar briefs for Tuesday, Aug. 19Ocala, August 18th
and took the jewelry, according to Marion County Sheriff's Office reports. The woman said a topaz necklace, a diamond and sapphire ring and diamonds earrings were among the items taken, reports state. After the work was done, the woman drove the...Read more
Haute Man: Hands-On With The Corum Golden Bridge DragonHaute Living, August 18th
Last year, the Swiss brand Corum, based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, was sold to Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group Limited (formerly known as China Haidian Holdings Limited), and the new owners got an exclusive opportunity to indulge in a wild and ...Read more
Deputy seek handyman suspected of stealing jewelryOcala, August 18th
The woman said a topaz necklace, a diamond and sapphire ring and diamonds earrings were among the items taken, reports state. After the work was done, the woman drove the man to a nearby gas station, gave him $30 and left. The man was described as ...Read more
Apple eyes sapphire for iPhone screensSiliconBeat, August 15th
Though it typically appears in vibrant blue hues in jewelry, sapphire is clear in its pure form. Despite the gem's tough exterior, it may not actually best Gorilla Glass as its resiliency depends on the cut. Gorilla Glass proved tougher than sapphire...Read more
Fine-Jewelry Shoppers Flock OnlineWall Street Journal, August 1st
Right hand from left: Monique Péan Grey Sapphire and White Diamond Pavé Ring, $27,380, barneys.com; Sabine G. 18K White Gold Ring, $8,212, stoneandstrand.com; Katherine Jetter Queen Ruby II 18K Yellow Gold and Diamond Pavé Ring, $28,000, ...Read more
#RocksMyWorld: Monique Lhuillier Adds Something Blue and More to Her ...InStyle, July 24th
I often draw inspiration from my dresses when I design my jewelry collection. In this past bridal collection I experimented with color, specifically using a beautiful hydrangea blue. Then I introduced a blue sapphire into this new jewelry collection...Read more