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SAPPHIRE

October 26, 2017

 

 SAPPHIRE / CORUNDUM

 

   For centuries, sapphire has been associated with royalty and romance. The association was reinforced in 1981, when Britain’s Prince Charles gave a blue sapphire engagement ring to Lady Diana Spencer. Until her death in 1997, Princess Di, as she was known, charmed and captivated the world. Her sapphire ring helped link modern event with history and fairy tales. In ancient Greece and Rome, Kings and Queens were convinced that blue sapphires protected their owners from envy and harm. During the Middle Ages, the clergy wore sapphires to symbolize Heaven, and ordinary folks thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings. In other times and places, people instilled sapphires with the power to guard chastity, make peace between enemies, influence spirits, and reveal the secrets of oracles. In folklore, history, art, and consumer awareness, sapphire has always been associated with the color blue. Its name comes from the Greek word sappheiros, which probably referred to lapis lazuli. Most jewelry customers think all sapphires are blue, and when gem and jewelry professionals use the word “sapphire” alone, they normally mean “blue sapphire.” In the trade, “blue sapphire” refers to stones ranging from very light to very dark greenish or violetish blue, as well as those in various shades of purple blue. Large, top-quality stones are rare, but blue sapphires in other sizes and grades are almost always available.

 

Sources

 

Australia

Blue and Fancy

Cambodia

Blue and Fancy

China

Blue and Fancy

India

(Kashmir) Famous historic source of fine blue sapphire, production is now very limited

Kenya

Blue and Fancy

Madagascar

Blue

Myanmar

(Burma) Source of the Burmese sapphire known for its unique intense blue

Nigeria

Blue

Pakistan

Fancy

Rwanda

Fancy

Sri Lanka

(Ceylon) Source with a wide range of quality and independent

determination of origin.

Tanzania

Blue and Fancy 

Thailand

Blue and Fancy 

United States

Blue and Fancy

Vietnam

Blue and Fancy

 

Hardness & Toughness

 

Hardness                      9 on Mohs scale

Toughness                   Usually excellent, but stones with certain treatments

                                       or large fractures or inclusions can be less durable.

Stability

 

Environmental Factor & Reaction

 

Heat: High heat can cause a change in color or clarity, it can also damage or destroy fracture and cavity fillings.

 

Light: Generally stable, but irradiated yellow or orange stones fade quickly

heat from bright lights can cause oil to leak or dry out

 

Chemicals: Can harm fillings and remove oil, soldering flux containing boron, and firecoat made with boric acid powder, will etch the surface of even untreated stones.

 

Care & Cleaning

 

Warm, soapy water is always safe. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe for untreated, heat-treated, and lattice diffusion treated stones. Fracture-filled, cavity-filled, or dyed material should only be cleaned with a damp cloth.
 

Species and Variety

 

Not all sapphires are blue, however. It’s a variety of the same species as ruby -corundum- and any corundum that doesn’t qualify as ruby is considered sapphire. Fancy sapphires, as they called, come in violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and intermediate hues. There are also parti-colored sapphires that show a combination of different colors.  And some stones exhibit the phenomenon known as color-change, most often going from blue in daylight or fluorescent lighting to purple under incandescent light. Sapphires can even be gray, black, or brown. Fancy sapphires are generally less available than blue ones, and some colors are scarce, especially in very small or large sizes. Transparent sapphires of all colors are most often faceted. Corundum is very hard and tough, and can be used in any type or style of jewelry. Sapphire is the birthstone for September.

 

SOURCE: GIA'S LIBRARY

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