May 27, 2009
The sapphire, protector of the innocent, celestial guardian of truth, bringer of health and youth, symbol of the heavens and birthstone for the month of September, is in fact the same stone as the ruby, the mineral corundum.
The blue corundum, ranging in color from the lightest blue to deep blue and black, is the same stone as the ruby, the only difference being in the color. The choicest color is the soft velvety blue, approaching the cornflower in shade and exhibiting that color vividly by artificial as well as by natural light. The deeper-colored stones are known as male, and the light-colored ones as female sapphires. Although choice sapphires are rare, a much greater quantity of good and large stones are to be had than of rubies, and therefore the price of a large sapphire does not advance in the same proportion as the price of a large ruby.
The word "sapphire" which means blue is of the same form in nearly all the early tongues, thus showing that they were in use by the ancients. Sapphires are found in many parts of the world and are usually found in the same locality as the ruby. The largest number and finest quality of these stones come from Thailand and India, and are found and recovered in much the same way as the ruby.
The sapphire is next to the diamond in hardness and it is this quality that makes it impervious to wear and insures its sharp edges and corners against years of use. Like the ruby the value of the sapphire is determined by its color. The finest stones are a deep blue and the deeper the color the more highly it is prized if its translucency is not impaired. Although the sapphire with its many shades of blue is considered the most desirable stone, it is also found in other colors such as red, green, yellow and pink.
The Oriental emerald or green sapphire does not approach the beryl or true emerald in depth of color, but because of its superior hardness and brilliancy, added to its extreme rarity, it is the most valuable of green gems. The Oriental amethyst or purple sapphire sometimes reflects a red color by artificial light, and is valued highly as a gem stone; the common amethyst is softer, less brilliant, and loses by artificial light. The various other colored sapphires, such as yellow or Oriental topaz, light green or Oriental aquamarine, greenish-yellow or Oriental chrysolite, and aurora red or Oriental hyacinth, are all valuable as gem stones when they are pure, well cut, and have pronounced colors-in fact, the name Oriental is given to distinguish the corundums from the less valuable minerals of the same colors which they resemble, but which they greatly surpass in beauty and value because of their brilliancy and superior hardness.
Asterias or star stones are corundums of three different colors; the star sapphire proper is a grayish blue, the star ruby red, and the star topaz yellow. These stones are usually cut cabochon or convex, and display under the rays of the sun, or when exposed to one candle or other artificial light, a beautiful star with six points. This star is produced by foreign substances in the corundum, and the lapidary brings about the regular effect by cutting a pointed carbuncle so that the center of the star begins at the apex, and the six bright stripes radiate to the base of the stone. The bright lines of the star following the light move over the surface of the stone and produce a remarkable effect. These stones are amongst the most wonderful of mineral productions, and good specimens are very valuable. The corundum cat's-eye, called Oriental girasol or sunstone, has a bluish, reddish, or yellowish reflection of light of a lighter shade than the stone itself, and which moves on the convex surface of the stone like the lines of a star stone.
To this day, sapphire is one of the most important members of the family of gems and is certainly one of the most favored by jewelry artisans worldwide. Consequently, there is more "hanky-panky" with treatments, alteration of color and various other techniques to disguise or improve flaws etc., than almost any other precious stone. Buyer beware of bargains that look "too good to be true". Deal with reputable jewelers both online and offline. The sapphire is the birthstone for September.
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