Coloured gemstones loved since the Age of Antiquity
Sapphires are the transparent to semi-transparent members of the 'corundum' family of minerals with a chemical composition of Aluminium oxide (Al2O3). In nature, they are born deep in our earth's mantle and lower crust.
After diamonds, they are the next hardest natural substance. This durability combined with exceptional colour, beauty, brilliance, mysticism and rarity has made sapphires and rubies (a red sapphire) prized coloured gemstones since the Age of Antiquity.
'Sapphire' comes from the Greek word for blue, 'sapphirus', while ruby comes from the Latin word for red.
Where are they found?
Only a few places supply high quality sapphires
Sapphires from different parts of our world have different colour and inclusion profiles to mark their individual unique journeys within the earth.
Key sources of sapphires include Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Australia, India, Madagascar, Russia, South Africa and the USA. However, the world's best blue sapphires are said to come from Ceylon, Burma, Madagascar and Kashmir (India).
Ceylon produces prized cornflower blue and royal blue sapphires with exceptional colour hues, saturation and tone. Burma is known for its unique blue, while Kashmir sapphires often contain inclusions that create a prized velvety appearance. Australia, the USA and Madagascar are known for their teal sapphires.
Type 2 stones
earth made with natural inclusions
Inclusions are nature’s fingerprint within a gemstone. Like a fingerprint, they are unique for every gemstone. Inclusions tell the spectacular story of a gemstone’s journey through the earth and the time it took to form its beauty under immense pressure, heat and natural forces. Chemically, inclusions are minerals and particles trapped within the crystal structure of a gemstone.
In diamonds, tanzanites and other ‘Type 1’ stones, inclusions are generally treated as ‘negative’ to its beauty. However, this is not the same for sapphires. Sapphires are 'Type 2' stones. It means that sapphires by their nature often have natural inclusions.
Due to this, sapphires are graded in a different scale to diamonds which account for the presence of natural inclusions. Sapphires without inclusions are extremely rare and command a premium.
In some sapphires, inclusions improve their appearance by seamlessly amplifying its colour to create a soft luxurious velvety finish. Rare Kashmir sapphires were renowned for their velvety inclusions.
Magic of colour
Dance of chemistry
A sapphire's beauty is borne through its colours. Blue is most known, but sapphires also form in shades and mixes of yellow, green, pink, red (rubies), orange, padparadscha (the rarest combination of orange and pink that represents the colour of the lotus flower and the sunset).
Sapphire in its purest form is colourless. The magic of colour is sparked by the dance of different trace elements within their crystal structures. Blue is illuminated by a combination of iron and titanium. Red rubies and pink sapphires are sparked by chromium. Orange and padparadscha sapphires are fired by iron and chromium. Yellow and green sapphires are lit up by iron. Purple by an interplay between chromium, vanadium, iron and titanium.
Access to grace
Beyond chemistry, sapphires and their colours have significant spiritual meaning and symbolism across cultures.
Padparadscha (meaning lotus flower in the Singhalese language), is believed to contain the power of wisdom, creativity, fire for life and provide resilience to overcome challenging obstacles.
Blue is associated with royalty, wisdom and insight.
Yellow is a stone of abundance and prosperity with the power to manifest visions.
Pink is believed to stimulate the gentle emotions of love, forgiveness, acceptance and release.
White sapphires are believed to provide awareness, clarity and discernment.