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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Get the Best Deal on a Diamond RingKiplinger Personal Finance, November 25th
On Ringspo, you can choose the kind of stone (diamond, emerald, ruby or sapphire), setting style and price. Once you've researched online, compare jewelry-store prices with those prices you found on the Web. Digital diamond dealers have lower operating ...Read more
Karen Magee: Always pack a change of clothesArizona Daily Sun, November 24th
A sapphire blue Michael Kors Jet Set Travel saffiano tote bag is my signature and my savior. It's light and sturdy enough to fit everything from my laptop to my makeup bag — plus, it slides underneath the seat. I always pack a change of clothes in my...Read more
Licia B. Jewels, the new kid on the block in Manhattan Beach, celebrates first ...Beach Reporter, November 24th
“Some of my most unique styles include diamond rings and earrings in very unusual settings, and some beautiful sapphire slice rings. These sapphires are flat on the bottom so that the facets on top sparkle and jump out at you. They're just very full of...Read more
How to Stack Your Jewelry & Not Look SloppyLos Angeles Confidential, November 22nd
Sapphire and diamond Bombé necklace, Graff (price on request). See above. Happy Sport Collection timepiece, Chopard (price on request). South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, 714-432-0963. 2015 Tiffany Masterpieces collection bracelet, Tiffany & Co. (price on ...Read more
From Barbara Taylor Bradford: A Life Story That DazzlesNew York Times, November 22nd
“Jewelry is emotional. I think women love a piece because of who gave it to them, how long they have had it, the love and the memories of somebody caring,” she said. “The little Cartier watch, the blue sapphire ring, the pearls and my parrot — those...Read more
Sotheby's to Auction $4.6M Diamond Necklace in New York Next MonthRapaport, November 22nd
Others include an exceptional platinum, Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring valued at $3.5 million to $4.5 million that had been in the possession of three generations of the family of financier Thomas Fortune Ryan; a platinum and diamond ring estimated...Read more
Reimagining a Family Jewelry BusinessInternational New York Times, November 22nd
The Blue Carmen ring has a 12.74-carat Ceylon sapphire centered between diamond and sapphire “ruffles” inspired by the flounce on one Rubel ballerina's costume. The motif is further conjugated on earrings and a necklace. Ms. Mizrahi-Rubel has updated ...Read more
Sotheby's to Auction Jewelry From Duchess of Windsor, Queen Nazli CollectionsWWD, November 19th
In addition to the royal relics, Magnificent Jewels will also include an array of “exceptional” colored stones including a 25.87 carat sugarloaf cabochon Kashmir sapphire ring — estimated up to $4.5 million. And a pair of unenhanced Colombian emerald ...Read more