The Sapphire, associated with royalty and romance, is a precious gemstone belonging to the Corundum mineral family, which also includes ruby. Sapphires are typically found in igneous rocks and alluvial deposits, with some of the most famous sources being found in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Myanmar, and Australia. One of the most popular gemstones in the world, sapphires are prized for their colour and remarkable durability. Graded as a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, sapphires are one of the hardest gemstones after diamonds and are well suited for use in engagement rings. Sapphire has a refractive index of 1.76 to 1.77, which is higher than most other gemstones, giving it brilliance and sparkle.
The corundum family also includes “fancy sapphires”, a rainbow assortment of violet, green, yellow, orange, pink and purple, as well as “parti” sapphires that show combinations of different colours. Sapphires are the September birthstone.
Traditionally associated with the colour blue, blue sapphires are the standard against which other blue gems, from topaz to tanzanite, are measured. Blue sapphires can range from pale, almost colourless stones to deep, rich shades of blue. The most valuable and sought-after blue sapphires have a vivid, intense colour that is evenly distributed throughout the stone called “Royal Blue”. Royal Blue describes the sapphire with the most vivid and deepest saturation. It was probably first used by British gem trader to describe sapphire when Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Burma (now Myanmar) was part of the British Empire. The symbolism of royal blue includes tranquillity.
Fancy sapphires are generally less available than blue, and some colours are scarce. Still, fancy sapphires create a rainbow of options for people who like the romance associated with this gemstone, but prefer other colours. In the United States, Montana has been a source of fancy sapphires for over 100 years. In the 1960s sapphire was named the “official state gemstone.” During the past few decades, Africa has become an important source of fancy sapphires. Deposits in Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and other countries are producing these colorful gems.
Parti sapphires are an especially fancy variety of fancy sapphire. They are gemstones cut from sapphire crystals that have color zones of two or more distinctly different colors. These crystals are cut in a way that allows two or more color zones of the sapphire crystal to be part of a single gemstone. This produces a multicolor gemstone that is beautiful, interesting, and absolutely unique. They can also be cut in ways that blend the different colors in the crystal.
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