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Traditionally the symbol of truth, sincerity and faithfulness, the sapphire has been associated with royalty and romance for many years. Kings wore sapphire around their necks as a defence from harm in times of war and some cultures believed it was a protection against witchcraft. This history was reinforced when Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana Spencer with a beautiful Sapphire cluster. Some believe the name ‘Sapphire’ is derived from its association with the planet Saturn. The three most famous locations for discovering Sapphire is Kashmir, Burma and Sri Lanka.
Sapphire is the gem quality variety of the mineral corundum. While blue is the traditional sapphire colour, many don’t know that sapphire is found in a variety of colours such as yellow, pink and purple. Most sapphires are pale and translucent in colour and only a small number are naturally vivid and intense colours without any treatment or enhancement.
Photo: Robert Weldon/GIA, Dr. Eduard J. Gübelin Collection
The price of sapphire is dependent on many factors such as any treatments, colour intensity, zoning and of course the size of the gemstone. Transparent sapphires are the most valuable whereas opaque gemstones have little to no value. Eye-clean sapphires in larger stones are quite rare, especially in ideal colours and unheated sapphires in rich blue can command huge prices in today’s market. Like with anything, though, there is something to suit everyone’s budget and specifications.
Moh’s Hardness Scale
Sapphire is the second hardest substance on earth after diamond and is rated 9 on the Moh’s Scale of Hardness.
Treated sapphires are common in today’s market and available in unlimited quantities. The most common treatment in heat-treatment to intensify the colour of stones that are pale and translucent in appearance. Untreated gemstones are always available if this is important to you and treatments should always be disclosed to the purchaser.
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