Sapphires are often associated with holding mystical powers. In ancient times, it was believed that sapphires protected their wearers from evil, and the stone often symbolises nobility and faithfulness.
These beautiful gems are formed from volcanic activity – the slower the magma cools, the larger the sapphire will be. The blue colour comes from the mineral corundum, found in igneous rocks. Due to the natural circumstances, no two sapphires will ever look exactly the same.
Australia has been a major sapphire producer for over a hundred years, and once produced around 70% of the world’s supply.
Due to the high iron content in Australian sapphires, they are typically dark blue. However, a special gem called the parti sapphire is unique to Australia, which is a beautiful combination of blue, yellow and green hues.
Sapphires can come in all colours. From white to yellow to green or pink (with the exception of red, which is a ruby). A particularly special variety of the gemstone exhibit different colours depending on the lighting; often changing from blue in daylight to purple in incandescent light.
The most famous royal sapphire today is the engagement ring given by Prince Charles to Lady Diana in 1981. It features an 18-carat oval blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds. It’s now worn by Princess Catherine.
Sapphires can exhibit a beautiful phenomenon called the ‘star effect’ or asterism. Needle-like inclusions create a six-ray star pattern on the surface of a cabochon-cut sapphire and are often called a ‘star sapphire’.
The rarest type of sapphire is a pinkish orange variety called padaradscha – which comes from the Sanskrit word for lotus flower.
Sapphire is the birthstone for the month of September. It is also the traditional gift for 5th or 45th anniversaries.
The largest sapphire ever cut is the Millennium Sapphire discovered in Madagascar and weighing 61,500 carats.