Sapphire, with its mesmerising blue hue, has captured the hearts of the rich and famous for centuries.
THE ROMANTIC CHOICE
The precious gemstone represents loyalty, honesty and devotion, making it a popular choice for engagement rings and romantic jewellery. Arguably the most famous engagement ring in the world, Princess Diana’s (and now Kate Middleton’s) boasts a 12-carat oval blue sapphire, surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds. Celebs such as Elizabeth Taylor, Penelope Cruz and Elizabeth Hurley, have famously all sported sapphire engagement rings, while Napoleon Bonaparte was said to have given a seven-piece jewellery set featuring 29 sapphires to his wife, Josephine.
A RAINBOW OF COLOURS
The gems are known the world over for their vivid blue hue, but the truth is, sapphires come in a rainbow of colours. You can find them in pale to navy blue, yellow, pink, purple, green and even black. Sapphire belongs to the family of minerals known as corundum. In its purest form, corundum is a rather dull grey, and the beautiful sapphire colours come from impurities getting caught up in the mineral growth.
Sapphires of colours other than blue are known as fancy sapphires, and they are usually traded using colour-specific names, such as yellow sapphire, green sapphire or purple sapphire. For many years, only blue sapphire was recognised as ‘true’ sapphire. Today, all colours of gem-quality corundum are known as sapphire, except red corundum, which is sapphire’s close cousin, ruby. While all these colours may be beautiful to look at, blue remains the most valuable of the sapphires.
A TOUGH CHOICE
The impurity that gives blue sapphire its colour is a trace amount of iron and titanium. These hard metals also give sapphire one of its most prized properties – its toughness. Sapphire rates 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it the strongest natural gemstone in existence, second only to diamonds. Its indestructible nature means this gem is a natural choice for jewellery.
CHOOSING YOUR STONE
When it comes to choosing a blue sapphire, the intensity of blue is the most important factor. A huge sapphire with a washed-out, weak blue colour will be much less valuable than a much smaller stone of excellent colour. An intense, rich pure blue that is not too dark or too ‘inky’ is the most desirable colour. When choosing a stone, be sure to look at it under natural daylight.
Sapphires can be cut into various shapes and styles. Ovals, cushions and rounds are the classic sapphire cuts, but it’s not unusual to see shapes such as hearts, pears and emerald cuts.
The coveted stone is one of the four precious gemstones, along with diamond, ruby and emerald, and given its romantic legacy and tough nature, it’s an investment you can’t go wrong with.