Precious Stones The Big Five
Part 3 The Sapphire
By Sam Serio
The sapphire, protector of the innocent, celestial guardian of truth,
bringer of health and youth, symbol of the heavens and birthstone for the month of
September, is in fact the same stone as the ruby, the mineral corundum.
The blue corundum, ranging in color from the lightest blue to deep blue
and black, is the same stone as the ruby, the only difference being in the color. The
choicest color is the soft velvety blue, approaching the cornflower in shade and
exhibiting that color vividly by artificial as well as by natural light. The
deeper-colored stones are known as male, and the light-colored ones as female sapphires.
Although choice sapphires are rare, a much greater quantity of good and large stones are
to be had than of rubies, and therefore the price of a large sapphire does not advance in
the same proportion as the price of a large ruby.
The word sapphire which means blue is of the same form in
nearly all the early tongues, thus showing that they were in use by the ancients.
Sapphires are found in many parts of the world and are usually found in the same locality
as the ruby. The largest number and finest quality of these stones come from Thailand and
India, and are found and recovered in much the same way as the ruby.
The sapphire is next to the diamond in hardness and it is this quality
that makes it impervious to wear and insures its sharp edges and corners against years of
use. Like the ruby the value of the sapphire is determined by its color. The finest stones
are a deep blue and the deeper the color the more highly it is prized if its translucency
is not impaired. Although the sapphire with its many shades of blue is considered the most
desirable stone, it is also found in other colors such as red, green, yellow and pink.
The Oriental emerald or green sapphire does not approach the beryl or
true emerald in depth of color, but because of its superior hardness and brilliancy, added
to its extreme rarity, it is the most valuable of green gems. The Oriental amethyst or
purple sapphire sometimes reflects a red color by artificial light, and is valued highly
as a gem stone; the common amethyst is softer, less brilliant, and loses by artificial
light. The various other colored sapphires, such as yellow or Oriental topaz, light green
or Oriental aquamarine, greenish-yellow or Oriental chrysolite, and aurora red or Oriental
hyacinth, are all valuable as gem stones when they are pure, well cut, and have pronounced
colors in fact, the name Oriental is given to distinguish the corundums from the
less valuable minerals of the same colors which they resemble, but which they greatly
surpass in beauty and value because of their brilliancy and superior hardness.
Asterias or star stones are corundums of three different colors; the
star sapphire proper is a grayish blue, the star ruby red, and the star topaz yellow.
These stones are usually cut cabochon or convex, and display under the rays of the sun, or
when exposed to one candle or other artificial light, a beautiful star with six points.
This star is produced by foreign substances in the corundum, and the lapidary brings about
the regular effect by cutting a pointed carbuncle so that the center of the star begins at
the apex, and the six bright stripes radiate to the base of the stone. The bright lines of
the star following the light move over the surface of the stone and produce a remarkable
effect. These stones are amongst the most wonderful of mineral productions, and good
specimens are very valuable. The corundum cats-eye, called Oriental girasol or
sunstone, has a bluish, reddish, or yellowish reflection of light of a lighter shade than
the stone itself, and which moves on the convex surface of the stone like the lines of a
To this day, sapphire is one of the most important members of the
family of gems and is certainly one of the most favored by jewelry artisans worldwide.
Consequently, there is more hanky-panky with treatments, alteration of color
and various other techniques to disguise or improve flaws etc., than almost any other
precious stone. Buyer beware of bargains that look too good to be true. Deal
with reputable jewelers both online and offline. The sapphire is the birthstone for