Monday, November 15, 2010

Sapphire - Not Only In Blue

Sapphire has been a stone that represented virtue, holiness and wisdom throughout the ages. There is a tradition that says that the tablets the 10 Commandments were written on were tablets of sapphire that were so strong that a hammer would shatter if struck against them. Blue Sapphire became the favorite of church authorities for rings, as the blue color represented the sky. The gem was worn by ancient kings as a defense from harm and especially as protection from poisoning. It was also a favored stone by those who practiced witchcraft.

Sapphire is the name given to any piece of the mineral corundum that is not red in color. All red corundum is ruby. It is usually thought of as being blue in color and that is the most popular color. But they are found in a range of colors such as green, purple, orange, pink, violet and colorless. It is the birthstone for the month of September. There are many areas of the world that produce the gem, but the most famous are Sri Lanka, Burma and Kashmir, which is located high in the Himalayan mountains.

Sapphire like ruby can be produced synthetically by growing in laboratories and is very difficult to differentiate from the authentic stone. Synthetic sapphire has industrial applications similar to ruby because of its hardness, and is also used in jewelry. The synthetic stone is available in many colors besides blue and are much more affordable than authentic stones, but they should always be designated as synthetic or lab grown.

The Star Sapphire is a stone in which a six-pointed star can be seen in the stone after it has been cut and faceted. This star moves with the source of light that passes through it. This type of stone was thought to protect the wearer from the 'evil eye' and witchcraft, and is also known as an asteria stone. Sir Richard Francis Burton, famed 19th century traveler obtained one of these stones on his world travels and considered it his good luck talisman. This stone is known as The Star Of India and now resides in the Morgan-Tiffany Collection in the American Museum Of Natural History. It weighs an astounding 563 carats!

The rarest and most valuable type of sapphire is the padparadscha. It is colored in light shades of pink and orange, and most of this type comes from Sri Lanka. According to size, color and quality of the stone, these types of stones can range in price from $4,000 to $20,000 a carat. The most famous padparadscha sapphire is also located in the Morgan-Tiffany Collection of the American Museum Of Natural History and weighs 100.18 carats.

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