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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Apple Watch sapphire rivals those of classic sapphire watches (Video)9 to 5 Mac (blog), April 27th
The test was performed with a diamond tester, which tests the conductivity of various materials, but usually for evaluating jewelry. Standard glass will not provide a reading with the diamond tester, while sapphire crystal (or other gems) will provide...Read more
Bonhams Jewelry Sale Achieves $7MRapaport, April 27th
A 21.27-carat sugarloaf cabochon Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring sold for $442,460 (GBP 290,500) or three times the presale estimate, followed by a 17.97-carat Burmese sapphire and diamond ring which fetched $277,965 (GBP 182,500) against a high ...Read more
Colored Stones Smash Estimates in Bonhams' First London Sale of 2015JCK, April 27th
17.97 ct. Burmese sapphire and diamond ring, $278,000, three times its highest estimate. • 9.05 ct. pear-shape colorless diamond ring by Harry Winston, $534,000. • 7.1 ct. fancy light pinkish-brown diamond ring, $179,000, five times its highest estimate...Read more
Why the Apple Watch Display Is One of the Best Smartwatch Screens YetGizmodo, April 27th
The display on the Apple Watch rises to the challenge with an excellent state-of-the-art Flexible OLED display covered by a sapphire crystal, or by an Ion-X strengthened cover glass for the Sport model. Also very significant, it is Apple's ... In this...Read more
Classic Cocktailist: One Of a Kind EditionDCist.com, April 27th
First, there's the Sapphire Spray with blueberries muddled in vanilla simple syrup, vodka and a garnish of skewered blueberries and cheddar cheese cubes. “We like keeping it a bit of a ... There's a whole jewelry box of treasures to try here. Farther...Read more
Gemstone buyers abroad should avoid deals too good to be trueLos Angeles Times, April 27th
Question: My sister and I were in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in March, and our tour guide took us to some temples in Angkor. After the tour, he took us to a jewelry store in Siem Reap. I bought a 14 1/2-carat ruby and a 12-carat blue sapphire for $2,500...Read more
Sotheby's 'perfect' 100-carat diamond sells for whopping sumwtkr.com, April 27th
The massive gem led the house's Magnificent Jewels auction, which included a collection of Kashmir sapphire jewelery and several Art Deco pieces from Cartier. ... The second-highest price of the day was $3.3 million for a 22.30 carat diamond ring...Read more
Bonhams' Fine Jewelry Sale Brings $6.5MBLOUIN ARTINFO, April 23rd
Notably, some sapphire lots achieved prices that tripled their pre-sale estimates: A 21.27-carat sugarloaf cabochon Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring (pictured above, left) achieved $436,438, while a 17.97-carat Burmese sapphire and diamond ring ...Read more