The worlds most precious, famous and valuable blue stone, here is everything you need to know about the sapphire.
Corundum, whether destined to form as rubies or sapphires, naturally form in course and rough layers of igneous rock where and in locations and instances in which there are specifically low levels of silica (a combination of oxygen and silicon).
When molten rock cools at a slow rate beneath the earths surface this results in what we know as rough igneous rock. The slow rate at which igneous rock trapped beneath the surface cools also results in the natural formation of large crystals, such as sapphires and rubies.
Hence, sapphires have been discovered in numerous countries across the world where these specific conditions permit them to form. A large percentage of the worlds sapphire stores come from Australia but over the years sapphires have also been found, mined and discovered in Sri Lanka, Malawi, Madagascar and the United States.
Sapphires, along with rubies, are examples of mineral corundum. Specifically, sapphire often has trace elements of titanium, iron, copper and magnesium which in different combinations can result in the creation of blue, yellow, green, orange and purple sapphires. When corundum bears specific chromium elements it shows in its colouring and high enough levels to turn corundum red results in the formation of a ruby.
Then, both sapphires and rubies score the same on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, ranking second only to diamonds. This combination of vivid, saturated colour and exquisite hardness and durability make sapphire a popular jewellery material with most commercially used sapphires bearing under 5.0 carats.
Rather romantically, in Old Persian lore it was believed that the entire world was balanced upon one great blue sapphire and that this in turn painted the skies blue. Perhaps this is why the clergy during the Middle Ages opted to wear blue as a symbol of the heavens.
Long since it was discovered that sapphires do not in fact colour the skies, sapphires have continued to be worn, notably by royalty who over the course of history have favoured sapphires due to their aesthetic qualities and supposed power to ward off evil.
Fashion and Fame
Sapphires have remained fashionable since antiquity and have throughout history been popularly teamed with diamonds and set into silver, white gold and other silver hued precious metals which best showcase the intense blue colour bared by the most popular type of sapphire.
The most recent and perhaps famous sapphire to be worn by royalty is that of Princess Dianas engagement ring, gifted to her by Prince Charles. The ring, which is a particularly impressive example bears an oval shaped Ceylon sapphire of 12 carats and is inlaid into 18 carat white gold and haloed by 14 solitaire diamonds.
At the time it was created for Diana it was valued at 28,000, though today the ring is considered a Royal heirloom. Consequently, its value has risen to a staggering and estimated 300,000. Today it is of course worn by Kate Middleton, the wife of Dianas first son, Prince William.