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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Recent News: Sapphire Jewelry
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Bonhams Jewelry Sale Achieves Strong Prices for PearlsRapaport, September 18th
Additionally, a natural pearl and diamond ring sold for $77,800 (GBP 47,500), more than twice the high presale estimate. Diamonds, too, achieved strong prices led by a 12.63-carat, fancy yellow diamond ring that sold for $240,000 (GBP 146,600). A...Read more
Jeweler David Gardner to give crystallography lecture By Jessica WilliamsTexas A&M The Battalion, September 17th
“Everybody thinks that red is ruby, green is emerald, and blue is sapphire, but there are so many other stones that are so neat that come in many different colors that people don't realize,” Wile said. Gardner said opportunities for gemologists extend...Read more
Apple Watch Gold Edition rumored to be priced at $1200: Will you buy?Tech Times, September 17th
But jewelry industry experts believe the Apple Watch Edition, which comes with 18-karat yellow gold or rose gold, a sapphire crystal display and Venetian leather for its bands, will cost around $1,200, with other jewelers estimating that Apple's...Read more
Celebrity engagement rings take big rocks to new levelUSA TODAY, September 16th
Brad Pitt is officially off the market, with George Clooney set to follow in his footsteps any day now. They each chose their lady, selected a ring and popped the question. And oh, did they have something to seal the deal with! Celebrities certainly...Read more
Gowns and jewelry make the Golden Age of Hollywood shine at the MFAWicked Local Hingham, September 13th
“The jewels were made for a giant,” said collector and jewelry designer Neil Lane, referring to Mae West's platinum and diamond-studded bracelet he loaned to the exhibit. “She wanted size. It was about statement. It was the aesthetic of Parisian design...Read more
A rainbow of color comes to fine jewelryLos Angeles Times, September 5th
Multihued gemstones lend themselves to a Ziggy Stardust, glam-rock vibe on Marie-Hélène de Taillac's gold chain duster earrings with tourmaline, sapphire, fire opals and peridot stones, and Noor Fares' rainbow rhombus ring is crafted with multicolored ...Read more
Oversize Drop Earrings and Colored Stones Dazzle at 2014 EmmysJCK, August 26th
Blue sapphires also took center stage: outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series nominee Julie Bowen wore large blue sapphire drop earrings from Jacob & Co., jewelry lover Debra Messing wore a 12 ct. blue sapphire ring from Chopard, and ...Read more
Apple filing reveals plans for sapphire and 'jewelry' componentsTechRadar UK, August 21st
In case you wanted even more evidence Apple is planning to release a new sapphire laden device... PTT Research Senior Analyst Matt Margolis posted an Apple filing on Scribd in which the Cupertino firm asked the US Department of Commerce for ...Read more