Welcome to Sapphire 101. Here’s all you need to know about the most versatile, durable, colourful gemstone… in our opinion.
What are sapphires?
How do sapphires form?
Sapphires, similar to emeralds, diamonds and other natural gemstones, are formed deep in the Earth's crust and are brought to the surface over millions of years. High pressures and intense heat cause atoms to combine, forming a new mineral, corundum. A chemically pure sapphire, which is colourless, is 100% corundum. Coloured sapphires, the most well-known being blue, are coloured by trace chemicals or minerals found inside the corundum.
Why are sapphires blue?
Well, they aren’t only blue! Sapphires can form in any colour of the rainbow; blue, pink, purple, green, peach, and more. Sapphires that aren’t blue, are also known as ‘fancies’.
Did you know, that red sapphires have a name most people are very familiar with… ruby! Rubies are technically sapphires, as they are both formed from corundum.
What makes sapphires blue, or any other colour, are trace elements present in the corundum mineral. Blue sapphires can contain iron and titanium turning them a deep cobalt blue colour, while pink sapphires usually have chromium present giving them a rosy tint.
What do sapphires represent?
Sapphires have historically represented and been synonymous with royalty, think Princess Diana’s incredible Ceylon sapphire engagement ring. However, they do not only belong to royalty.
Sapphires are well-known as symbols of wisdom, hope and faith. Sapphires are also the birthstone for September and the gemstone of the Virgo star sign, making this month the luckiest as they have their pick of any colour with sapphires!
Can sapphires be worn every day?
All day, every day! Sapphires ranked a 9 out of 10, on the MOHS scale of mineral hardness. They aren’t the hardest gemstone (that one goes to diamonds), but they certainly are close. Sapphires remain stable under the changing conditions of everyday life, heat, cold, and light.
Sapphires are second only to diamonds in their mineral hardness! They truly are the everyday coloured gemstone.
But, as always, be mindful of your jewellery, particularly rings as a whole (its claws, setting, and band) coming into regular contact with harsh chemicals. Chlorine and strong cleaning products can damage or discolour your solid gold and platinum settings when exposed on a regular and long-term basis. You can read more on how to wear and care for your jewellery on our Jewellery Care page.
Do sapphires scratch?
Here’s the hard truth, no gemstone is truly invincible. Sapphires, and even diamonds, when put under enough pressure can break, chip or scratch. This does not mean that they aren’t sturdy, long-lasting, or durable, only that like all precious things they need care.
What’s so special about pink sapphires?
Pink sapphires are one of the rarest sapphire colours, formed from trace amounts of chromium present in the corundum mineral. The more chromium in the gemstone, the pinker your sapphire will be.
One of the rarest varieties of sapphire is the Padparadscha sapphire, which features unique sunset colours of pink and orange. Padparadscha sapphires (tongue twister I know), are extremely rare as the colour combination becomes less common. The word, Padparadscha, is a remnant of Ancient Sanskrit, meaning ‘lotus flower’ and is apt in describing the unique colours of the stone.
Where does the word sapphire come from?
The word sapphire is derived from the Ancient Greek word sappheiros and the Latin word sapphirus, which originally meant blue stone, likely referring to lapis lazuli (an opaque, bright blue stone, that is unmistakably different to blue sapphires).
What are bi-colour sapphires?
Bi-coloured sapphires, also known as parti sapphires, are naturally occurring sapphires that feature two or more colours. Bi-coloured sapphires can appear in an ombre effect, or mottled together, and can even present with a defined split between the two colours.
Australia is known for an abundance of bi-coloured sapphires, which most commonly appear in green, yellow and blue tones.
Why are sapphires so popular in jewellery?
Sapphires are incredibly popular in jewellery as they are almost unparalleled in durability, colour, and variety in gemstones. Their longevity, in a similar way to diamonds, is symbolic of couples of their everlasting love and commitment, making them a perfect choice for engagement rings.