Things to know about the sapphire, one of the most beloved precious gems, as well as stone of the month of September ♦
Sapphires have always been associated with romance and royalty. No coincidence that one of the most famous is the St. Edward’s Sapphire, which dates back to the 11th century and is set on the Imperial State Crown, one of United Kingdom crown jewels, while a more current example is the engagement ring with a sapphire 18-carat donated by Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer, spent a generation later by his son William to Kate Middleton.
Natural sapphires are precious stones widely used in jewelry. But there are not only natural stones: increasingly often are in use sapphires created in the laboratory, even for industrial or decorative purposes. Sapphire is a very hard stone: it reaches 9 on the Mohs scale. This stone is, therefore, the third hardest mineral in the world, after the diamond that reaches 10 and moissanite at 9.5). This is why sapphires are also used as optical components, high-resistance glasses, wristwatches, very thin electronic wafers, such as insulating substrates in electronics, integrated circuits and blue LEDs.
This type of stone from a gemmological point of view is a corundum (if it is red would be a ruby). Range color is from very pale blue to deep indigo, and the most appreciated is cornflower blue, not too pastel and not too navy blue. But the sapphire has a range of natural colors, gray, yellow, pale pink, orange, green, purple and brown: they are classified fancy, and some of these are very rare, for example, Padparadscha (in Sinhala means lotus flower ), of an intense orange-pink. The classic areas sapphires mines are Ceylon, Burma (Mogok), Madagascar and, to a less spread, Cambodia (Pailin), China, Kenya, Laos, Nigeria, Tanzania, Thailand, United States (Montana) and Vietnam . Until seventies Australia covering 70% of world production but the quality was not rewarded by the market because these gems were too dark or too green.
How to choose: according to Gia (Gemological Institute of America) a sapphire has generally a more affordable price than a ruby, an emerald or a diamond because are less rare. The best quality is the one that has no inclusions visible from a distance of 15 cm must by naked eye. But there are always exceptions: some inclusions, microscopic and called flower, milk or silk, can give an almost velvety appearance, which accentuates the beauty and consequently the value. One must also take into account star variety: needle-like inclusions of rutile depicting a star on the surface of the gem, which are most noticeable thanks to a good cut, and appear as six or 12 spokes evenly spaced and straight.
Cuts: the most common ones are oval and cushion, but under 1 carat can be found easily even brilliant cut sapphires, emerald and princess. But before you choose is essential to examine the stone under different lighting remembering that blue sapphires take a better look under a fluorescent light, while rubies prefer a light bulb.