Sapphire comes from the Greek word “sappheiros,” which means “blue” in Greek and has been cherished for thousands of years for its color, durability, hardness and luster. Ancient Mediterranean culture honored sapphire above all other gems, and early Buddhists believed in its power for spiritual awareness. One of the world’s most famous blue sapphire engagement rings is the one worn by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge which previously belonged to the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
Color: Every color except red
Mohs Hardness: 9
Major Sources: Australia, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, Kashmir, Kenya, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United States, Vietnam
Wedding Anniversary: 5th and 45th
Sapphire and ruby are both members of the mineral species corundum. Corundum is a naturally colorless material, but can have different colors when trace elements are present. The rich hues of blue sapphire are universally known but fancy sapphires come in many colors including pink, yellow, purple, colorless, black, green and the rare pinkish orange to orangy pink sapphire called Padparadscha. Nevertheless, the most preferred and most valuable sapphires are a vivid color saturation known as “Royal Blue.”
Sapphire comes in many colors, including the rare pinkish orange sapphire called Padparadscha, meaning “lotus blossom” in Sinhalese.
Sapphires normally have inclusions, so the lack of visible inclusions can have a positive impact on value. However, in some cases inclusions can increase the value of a sapphire when extremely fine particle clouds scatter the light, giving the stone a velvety appearance without affecting the transparency. This effect can be observed in some Kashmir sapphires, making them highly desirable.
Historically, Kashmir has produced some of the most spectacular and most precious blue sapphires that have set records at prestigious auction houses. Very little is mined there today. The velvety blue hue and minute inclusions observed in Kashmir sapphire make them the most sought after. Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) is also a highly-sought after source of blue sapphire. In the United States, the state of Montana has emerged as a leading producer of sapphire.