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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Northern Michigan Holiday Gift Guide for HerMyNorth.com, November 24th
We can't think of a better way to describe Elizabeth Blair's pearl earrings. Shown here are the pear and bee motifs. Made from Tahitian and South Sea cultured pearls with carved gemstones—sapphire, emerald, tourmaline. Prices range from $2,400 to ...Read more
Cartier's Iconic 20th Century Jewels on Display at Denver Art MuseumForbes, November 22nd
Curated by Margaret Young-Sánchez, curator of the museum's Frederick and Jan Mayer Center, the exhibition contains more than 250 pieces of jewelry, timepieces and precious objects produced between 1900 and 1975. Most of the items are from the ...Read more
Bubar's Celebrates Sapphire Jubilee: 70 Years Of Service In Santa MonicaSanta Monica Mirror, November 21st
With an intriguing family history that dates back to Santa Monica merchant days in 1945, Bubar's Jewelers is celebrating 70 years of business success and has the owner and jeweler sparkling with pride. Bubar's was opened as a modest jewelry and ...Read more
GIA Explores Ruby, Sapphire in MalawiRapaport, November 21st
In keeping with its mission to ensure the public trust in gems and jewelry, GIA regularly conducts research field trips to important gem and jewelry centers around the globe, incorporating findings into research practices and education programs and...Read more
McTeigue & McClelland Offers Modern-Day HeirloomsNew York Times, November 17th
Yellow sapphire drop earrings with purple sapphires and tsavorite garnets. Credit McTeigue & McClelland. Their atelier is something of an anomaly. Unlike rival emporiums on Madison Avenue in New York or Bond Street in London, McTeigue & McClelland ...Read more
Auction sets world record for jewelry, sapphire nets nearly $18M - AOL.comAOL News, November 12th
(Reuters) - A Swiss auction has set a new world record for jewelry sales, Christie's said on Wednesday, led by a Ceylon sapphire known as the "Blue Belle of Asia" which alone sold for an unprecedented 16.96 million Swiss francs ($17.6 million...Read more
Diamond engagement rings are so over, some couples sayKSL.com, November 6th
"The guy paying for it is more excited that it costs less," said Michael Arnstein, president of the Natural Sapphire Company, which sells nearly 200 sapphire engagement rings a month. A round-shape 1.20 carat sapphire with 0.16 carats of diamonds on an ...Read more
Statement Jewelry Takes Center StageGotham Magazine, October 30th
new york jewelry Macrame Arabesque top ($3,490) and macrame Arabesque skirt ($2,990), Valentino. 693 Fifth Ave., 212-355-5811. White round and pear-shaped diamond and sapphire Bombe earrings (price on request), sapphire and white diamond cuff ...Read more