Click HERE to shop sapphires, or scroll to the bottom of the article.
Sapphire is the traditional birthstone for the month of September, is the mystical birthstone for the month of May, and the ayurvedic birthstone for the month of August.
Mineral formula: Al2O3 (a variety of corundum)
Mineral group: member of the Hematite group
Crystal system: trigonal
Crystal habit: Often steep pyramidal; rounded, barrel-shaped crystals varying from short prismatic with a large base to steep pyramidal. Less commonly, flat tabular or rhombohedral.
Fracture: irregular / uneven, conchoidal
Color: typically shades of blue, blue-green, green to yellow
Luster: vitreous, adamantine, pearly
Moh’s scale hardness: 9
Specific gravity: 3.98 – 4.1
Named after: its blue color; in Latin, saphirus, Greek sapheiros, meaning blue.
Geological occurrence: found in silica-poor rocks, such as Nepheline-Syenites, alkali igneous undersaturated rocks, contact aureoles in altered aluminous shales, aluminous xenoliths in high temperature plutonic and hypabyssal rocks, metamorphosed bauxite deposits, and as a detrital material in sediments.
Working with Sapphire energy: click HERE
Sapphire – the word was once used as a synonym for “blue” – is the traditional birthstone for September, one of the more treasured and valuable gemstones since antiquity. Like ruby, sapphire is a form of corundum; its blue color is caused by atoms of iron in the crystal lattice. Red corundum is the mineral ruby.
It was not until the 18th century that it was clearly established that sapphire and ruby are the same mineral. In ancient literature, the term "sapphire" appears to have mostly referred to lapis lazuli although blue corundum has itself been prized since at least 800 BC. Rare pink-orange stones are called padparadscha. Sapphire that appears blue in daylight and reddish or violet in artificial light is called alexandrine or alexandrite sapphire, and is typically laboratory grown.
Geology and Uses
Like ruby, sapphire is pure aluminum oxide, and associated with geologic environments that have a high aluminum content as well as the high temperature needed for sapphire to crystallize. It is often geographically associated with ruby deposits, but in different host rocks. For example, both sapphire and ruby are found in Myanmar’s “mogul tract”, but sapphire is hosted in granitic rocks, and ruby in marble.
Corundum is most abundant in metamorphic rocks, and in silica-deficient igneous rocks such as nephrite syenites. Large deposits are rare, however. Most sapphires and rubies are mined from alluvial deposits, where their higher density concentrates them when weathered from their original source. Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Thailand are famous gemstone sources, but there are also deposits in Australia, Brazil, Kashmir, Cambodia, Kenya, Malawi, Colombia, and the US.
Significant deposits of sapphire are found in Australia, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Africa, China, Columbia, Ethiopia, India, Laos, Madagascar, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. In the United States, the most notable deposits are in Montana.
Many sapphires on the market are heat treated to enhance their blue color and clarity. This common practice was rarely disclosed until Yogo sapphires appeared on the market in 1980’s and were marketed as the world’s only completely untreated blue sapphire. Beryllium is added to some sapphires to enhance color, and these prices can also run into $100 per carat and up.
Corundum has been one of the most important industrial minerals for millenia, due to its hardness and stability it is used as polishing compounds. Sapphire also has applications in infra-red optical instrumentation, for high-strength window “glass,” and solid-state electronics. When mixed with magnetite it forms emory.
Synthetic sapphires have been produced since the early 1900s. Synthetic sapphire is often sliced and used for windows in equipment used in spectroscopy and bar-code scanners.
Is there sapphire in New Mexico?
No sapphire has been found in New Mexico so far. For a good discussion of gemstones of New Mexico click HERE
Sapphire History and Lore
Traditionally, sapphire symbolizes nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. It has decorated the robes of royalty and clergy members for centuries. Its extraordinary color is the standard against which other blue gems—from topaz to tanzanite—are measured. The celestial blue color of this gemstone symbolized heaven and attracted divine favor and wise judgment. Greeks wore sapphire for guidance when seeking answers from the oracle. Buddhists believed that it brought spiritual enlightenment, and Hindus used it during worship.
For centuries, sapphire has been associated with royalty and romance. In ancient Greece and Rome, kings and queens were convinced that blue sapphires protected their owners from envy and harm. Sapphires have adorned royalty from all over the world for millenia. In 1838 the English jewelers Rundell and Bridge created a new crown for Queen Victoria. This crown was crimson velvet trimmed with white ermine and about 2,900 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 5 rubies. Since then the state crown has been redesigned several times. The oldest stone in the crown is the St Edward's Sapphire, an octagonal, rose-cut gemstone. It was thought to be in the coronation ring of Edward the Confessor, and was buried with him at Westminster Abbey in 1066.
In ancient Greece, and later in the Middle Ages, there was belief that sapphires cured eye diseases. During the Middle Ages, the clergy wore blue sapphires to symbolize Heaven, and ordinary folks thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings and set prisoners free.. In other times and places, people instilled sapphires with the power to guard chastity, make peace between enemies, and reveal the secrets of oracles. In the East, the sapphire is regarded as a powerful charm against the evil eye.
- The highest gem quality natural sapphires are thought to be from Kashmir
- Higher quality faceted, deep blue sapphires typically run for $450 to $1600 per carat.
- The 423-carat (84.6 g) Logan sapphire in the National Museum of Natural History is one of the largest faceted blue sapphire gemstones in existence. It was donated to the Smithsonian in 1960 by Polly Logan.
- A sapphire jubilee occurs after 65 years. Queen Elizabeth II marked her sapphire jubilee in 2017.
- Pope Innocent III decreed that rings of bishops should be made of pure gold, set with an unengraved sapphire, as possessing the virtues and qualities essential to its dignified position as a seal of secrets, for there be many things "that a priest conceals from the senses of the vulgar and less intelligent; which he keeps locked up as it were under seal."
- The largest star sapphire known is the Star of Adam