Immediately recognizable for its velvety, rich blue hue, the sapphire is among the crème de la crème of the gemstone world. In the centuries since the gem’s discovery, the sapphire has endured as a symbol for royalty, as well as truth and faithfulness.
Legends dating to the ancient Greeks tell of high ranking oracles and priests dripping in gleaming sapphires, as they believed the stone granted spiritual insight, as well as access to the god Apollo. Into the Middle Ages, kings and queens believed that sapphires would protect them from envy and harm. A stone with the power to make peace in conflict, call to the spirits, and reveal the secrets of prophecies, the sapphire was a powerhouse amongst the myths and legends of the gemstone world. The sapphire’s association with romance emerged in the 1980s, when Prince Charles presented Princess Diana with a gleaming blue sapphire engagement ring, and admirers everywhere desired a glistening sapphire just like hers. With these enduring stories about the power and importance of the sapphire – to say nothing of its beauty – it is little wonder that this stone has reached legendary heights in terms of both value and reputation.
With a name that derives from the Latin sapphirus, meaning “blue stone”, the sapphire has long been associated with the color blue. The color variety of sapphires, however, encompass nearly every color on the spectrum. A stone of great versatility, the sapphire can be found in shades of violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and even grey or brown. With each color comes its own quality variation, mineral composition, and specific market. What they have in common, however, is an intense durability, measuring a 9 out of 10 on the MOHS scale of mineral hardness - an extraordinary rating that is second only to diamonds.
The modern-day obsession with the sapphire reached its peek in the mid-19th century, during the heyday of sapphire mining. The stones are sourced from around the world, with mines in Burma (now Myanmar), Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Australia and Montana, among other places. The best of the stones undoubtedly come from the Kashmir region of India and Pakistan, though few of these highly coveted sapphires can be found today. Discovered in 1882, the mine was virtually depleted by 1887, and there has been no other massive sapphire deposit mining in Kashmir since. Because of this, these high quality Kashmir sapphires have become increasingly more sought after, and command high value due to their unmistakable deep blue color.
With its remarkable history and position as a stable fixture in the gemstone market throughout time, the importance of this gemstone cannot be overexpressed. All of this, proving the ceaseless importance and high status of the sapphire, shows that this gemstone has held its own even hundreds of years after its discovery.