September 7, 2010

September’s Birthstone Fast Facts: Sapphire

Posted in birthstones, gemologist, gemstones, rose diamonds tagged , , , at 9:41 pm by rosediamonds

November’s birthstone, sapphire, is a member of the corundum family (same as ruby) and has hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale.

Sapphires are mined in Australia, Cambodia, East Africa, India, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka , Thailand, & the US.

It is said that sapphires represent faith and steadfast commitment.

Many people do not realize that sapphires come in all shades of the rainbow.  Fancy colored sapphires come in pink, orange, purple, green,  white, and black.  Blue sapphires range in color from light to medium (sometimes referred to as Ceylon) to midnight black/blue.

Ideal sapphire color is transparent vibrant “cornflower blue” with a slight “velvety” look.  It is caused by rutile silk inclusions inside the stones that reflect light. (as pictured above)

Sapphires can exhibit asterism (star sapphires).  The stars are also caused by inclusions.  Stars can be natural or surface diffused.  When shopping, look for “defined” or crisp rays on the star.

Sapphires are imitated by blue spinel (natural), synthetic blue spinel, blue cz, blue glass, and blue plastic.

Synthetic sapphires are chemically the same as natural sapphires, but are grown in a laboratory and usually are relatively inclusion free.

Most sapphires are assumed to be heat treated, whether at the mining source or later at the manufacturer (cutting center)

The most expensive sapphire is not blue: padparadscha means lotus flower in Sinhalese (the language of Sri Lanka) and can out-price diamonds of the same size.  The ideal padparadscha color is vivid pinkish orange. (pictured below)

Sapphire care: ultrasonic and stream cleaning ok.  Try not to store with diamonds (even sapphires can get scratched by harder gemstones)

Most sapphires in the marketplace are “commercial” grade.  For some stunning sapphires, ask your jeweler for fine sapphires.  Some even come with gem reports like diamonds.

More questions about sapphires?  Post a comment below, and I’ll respond.



  1. […] rest is here: September's Birthstone Fast Facts: Sapphire « Rosediamonds's Blog Related Reading: Medal of Honor European AssaultEurope 1942. These are desperate hours for Allied […]

  2. willie said,

    A friend of mine took her ring to a jewler to have the sapphire repronged. They said it was not a real sapphire because it broke. Will a real sapphire break like this?

    • rosediamonds said,

      A real sapphire can break. There are two kinds of sapphires out on the market. Natural and Synthetic. Most of the natural sapphires on the market are navy blue and kinda cloudy. Sapphires are a 9 on the Mohs Hardness scale, but internal inclusions or irregularities in their crystal structure can make them easier to break. Synthetic sapphires tend to have a medium transparent blue color. They are the same chemically as natural sapphires and have the same hardness. Imitation Sapphires common in the marketplace are synthetic spinel, blue cz, and blue glass. These are all softer stones and easier to break. I think the most important question is: how did the jeweler deal with the stone breaking? They should offer to replace the stone (whichever kind it was). Repairing jewelry is a pretty delicate process, so I advise cutting the jeweler a little slack. Sometimes the unexpected happens.

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