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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

18ct/ 18k Gold Diamond, Sapphire & Natural Pearl Art Deco Ring,boxed, 75018ct/ 18k Gold Diamond,sapphire & Cultured Pearl Art Deco Drop Earrings, 75018ct/ 18k White Gold 1ct Diamond & 3ct Sapphire Art Deco Cluster Ring,750 Estate Diamond 2.07ct Sapphire Platinum Engagement Ring Nr18ct Gold 1.80ct Diamond & 1ct Sapphire Heavy Art Deco Design Cluster Ring,750Fine Art Deco 14k Gold Platinum Sapphire & Diamond Openwork Cluster Ring C1930Fine 1.5ct Old Cut Diamond, Sapphire & Pearl Art Deco Platinum Drop Earrings,750Estate 10k Yellow Gold 16 Natural Blue Sapphire And Diamond Bracelet 1.45 Cts18ct/ 18k Gold Corn Flower Sapphire & Seed Pearl Art Nouveau Ring, 750Beautiful Antique Victorian Sapphire & Pearl Gold Brooch & Safety Chain18ct/ 18k Gold 1/2ct Diamond & 2ct Sapphire Art Deco Design Cluster Earrings,750Designer Diamond 6.40ct Sapphire Emerald Ruby 14k Gold Bracelet 43.7 Grams Nr18ct/18k Gold Diamond & 2ct Sapphire Drop Earrings, 750Vintage Coro Rhodium Plate Enamel Sapphire Rhinestone Flower BroochGia Ultra Rare 14k Gold Sapphire 250 Natural Pearl Strand Morris Foss Necklace 10k White Gold Sapphire Diamond Deco Filigree Pendant Necklace Vtg AntiqueOscar Caplan Vintage 14k Gold .05ct Diamond & Pink Sapphire Flower Bird BroochAntique Victorian 9 K Gold 17 Blue Sapphires Bneautiful Antique Hinged BraceletAntique Vintage Art Deco 14k Gold Diamond Blue Sapphire Tennis Estate Bracelet!Vtg Trifari Sterling Silver Emerald Ruby Sapphire Rhinestone Scepter BroochAntique Art Deco 10k White Gold Filigree Sapphire Paste Bar Pin BroochStunning Vintage Jewellery Sparkling Amethyst Sapphire Dropper Brooch PinHuge Magnificent Effy Sterling Pave Multi Color Saphire Sterling Ring-gorgeous!Vintage Art Deco 14k Gold Sapphire Earrings18k Platinum Diamond & Sapphire Art Deco PinVintage Jewellery Art Deco Sapphire Baguette Crystal Rhinestone Drop NecklaceOutstanding, Vintage Solid 9ct Gold Natural Ceylon Sapphire & Diamond Set RingNear-mint! Vtg C1920's Art Deco Fur Dress Clip Sapphire Blue & Clear RhinestonesHandmade Art Nouveau Antique 14k Gold Natural Sapphire Ladies Necklace 22in.Antique Estate Platinum Genuine Sapphire Diamond Filigree Deco Engagement RingAntique Art Deco Diamond Sapphire 14k 585 White Gold Womens Ring Size 6.5Vintage Ceylon Blue Sapphire And Diamond Platinum RingAntique 14kt Wg Sapphire Diamond Filigree Deco Engagement Ring Wedding Band SetMens Estate 14k Yellow Gold 0.60 Ct Natural Oval Blue Sapphire And Diamond RingVintage 1949 Trifari Sapphire Rhinestones & Enamel Butterfly Brooch -a. PhilippeVintage Antique .80ct Diamond Sapphire 18k White Gold Art Deco Engagement RingAntique 1890s - 14k Rg - Man's Gypsy Set Sapphire & Diamond Band Style Ring NrArt Deco 14k Solid Gold Sapphire Diamond Brooch . 6.7 GramsVintage Retro 14 K Yellow Gold Fine Blue Sapphire Diamond RingWorking Vintage Men's Pulsar P4 Dow Classic Led Watch Sapphire Flick Wrist BoxAntique Platinum 1.40ctw French Cut Vs Diamond/blue Sapphire Eternity Band RingAntique Deco 1.15ct Sapphire Diamond 14k White Gold Engagement Cocktail RingArt Deco 18k Gold & Platinum With Diamond And Sapphires. 0.73 Ctw!!Antique Art Deco 18k Gold Engagement Mounting With Natural Sapphires RingVintage 1940s 14k Gold Beautiful Blue Sapphire & Moonstone Flower BroochEstate Diamond 3.34ct Sapphire Platinum 18k Gold Cocktail Ring 14.0 Grams Nr18ct/ 18k Gold Diamond & Sapphire Heavy Cartier Design Leopard Ring, 750Estate 18k Yellow Gold Natural Dark Blue Sapphire Diamond Stud Earrings 1.20 Cts$6,000 2.23ct Antique Art Deco Natural Blue Sapphire & Diamond Cluster Ring 14kAntique Vintage Art Deco 10k White Gold Blue Sapphire Diamond Spray Ring! Sz 6.5Art Deco 14k Wg Diamond & Sapphire Ring Art Deco 14k Solid White Gold Filigree Mine Cut Diamond Sapphire Stone RingEstate~large & Ornate 14k Gold Natural Sapphire & Akoya Pearl Cocktail Ring~7 Gr10k Yellow Gold .47ct Vs G Womens Sapphire Diamond Ring 3.9g Vintage Estate 10k Solid Gold Awesome Antique Purple Star Sapphire & Diamond Ring Sz 9 RareVintage 1940s 1ct Natural Orange Sapphire 14k Rose Gold Band RingVitange Old European Cut Diamond & Sapphire Ring 3/4 CttwEstate $2000 1.50ct Natural Padparadscha Sapphire 14k White Gold Wedding Ring"look" Estate 14k Yellow Gold Ruby & Sapphire Channel Swirl Band RingVintage Art Deco 14k Rose Gold Star Sapphire Ruby Ring 9.6g Not Scrap S6.5