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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The Finer Things at Auctions Jul 3-9)BLOUIN ARTINFO, July 3rd
Elsewhere, some affordable vintage jewelry pieces are being offered at jewelry sales at Christie's in London (July 8) and Bonhams in Oxford (July 7). An exquisite Cartier Art Deco cigarette holder, circa 1925, made of amber, diamond and sapphire (est...Read more
Fashion FYI: National Bikini Day celebrates debut of two-piece suitTribune-Review, July 2nd
Grab your swimsuit, because July 5 is National Bikini Day. It's the anniversary of the invention of the bikini in 1946 by Parisian fashion designer Louis Reard. He unveiled a daring two-piece swimsuit at the Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in...Read more
MB&F Releases a Striking Red Gold Version of the HM6 WatchForbes, July 2nd
FORBESLIFE HOME. LOG IN · SIGN UP. INSIDE FORBESLIFE. Travel. Cars & Bikes. Style. Planes & Boats. Homes. Watches & Jewelry. Tech. Food & Drink. Arts. Gifts. MORE FROM FORBES. Forbes.com · Investing Newsletters · Conferences · Press Room · Jobs At...Read more
Police Blotter | Biker hit by car on North Mercer WayMercer Island Reporter (subscription), July 1st
Burglary: A 36-year-old Island woman reported that pieces of jewelry, including earrings, a necklace, a diamond wedding ring and a sapphire ring, given to her by her ex-boyfriend were stolen from her apartment at the 2700 block of 76th Avenue S.E. She ...Read more
Sneak Peek: Singapore International Jewelry ExpoBLOUIN ARTINFO, June 30th
For comparison purposes, a 25.59 Burmese ruby ring recently sold at Sotheby's auction for $30.33 million, outselling even colored diamonds. Also on offer by DeGem will be the “Pinnnacle of the Ocean,” a 38-carat unheated Burmese sapphire ring set in ...Read more
Edmonds' travels lead to Lancaster and jewelry storeLancaster Eagle Gazette, June 27th
Ava Jewelers also does custom designing, along with resizing or re-purposing items. "Maybe it's a piece of jewelry you just never wear and you want it to be something you can enjoy wearing," Edmonds said. "We took a tennis bracelet, a sapphire tennis ...Read more
21-Carat Kashmir Sapphire Ring Sells for $4.2 Million at Christie'sIDEX Online, June 21st
“The magnificent collection of Margaret Adderley Kelly was 100% sold for a total of just under $10m [almost twice the pre-sale $5 million estimate] wrapping up a solid series of jewelry auctions at Christie's worldwide for Spring 2015. From Kashmir...Read more
The Stunning Jewels of Margaret Adderley Kelly to Lead Christie's New York SaleForbes, June 14th
Christie's will close its worldwide spring jewelry auction season with the sale of Important Jewels in New York on June 16, led by the jewels of business woman and philanthropist, Margaret Adderley Kelly. The 28 lots include a Cartier Kashmir sapphire...Read more