What Is a Sapphire? | Bixler’s Gemstone Guide
Sapphire is one of the top colored gemstones found in the crust of the earth. It contains corundum that consists of aluminum oxide with small amounts of titanium, iron, copper or magnesium. At a glance, the gemstone is extremely desirable since it has a rare royal blue color. It is a hard gemstone with a Mohs scale of 9 (second hardest, behind the diamond) making it extremely durable. What’s more, it features a lustrous design that is stimulated and sparkles in the presence of light.
Sapphire is derived from saphirus, a Latin word that means blue. The Greek name for this gem is sapheiros which has the same meaning as the color blue. The birthstone of this gemstone is September and most cultures associate it with the Saturn planet. It is purported to have protective properties to the wearer and especially for people with a Virgo sign in the zodiac.
What Does a Sapphire Look Like?
Most people know sapphire to possess a blue color. However, this gemstone comes in different colors which can make it difficult to determine which is which. You can find sapphire in red, orange, yellow, green and other colors that are close to the ones mentioned. Natural occurring sapphires consist of plenty of tiny bits that are created during the formation. Raw sapphire presents a hexagonal shape or barrel shape just like the ruby.
Pure sapphire is formed from corundum that is found in the igneous rocks. The rocks cool down slowly forming large mineral crystals in the magma. The longer it takes the magma to cool, the larger the sapphire crystals form. Since the pressure and environmental factors may vary, sapphires may adopt a different and unique appearance. When sapphire is forming, rutile inclusions can also form. These resemble compact crystalline growths that are found inside the sapphire. The inclusions distinguish natural sapphires from synthetic ones.
What Color Is a Sapphire?
Blue is the main and most valuable color of a sapphire gemstone. The color is in its Latin and Greek names, Saphirus and Sapheiros respectively. Blue sapphire is sometimes referred to as Kashmir or Cornflower Blue Sapphire which is the most valuable and extremely rare. However, Sapphire is also available in other different colors including orange, pink, green, purple and other shades. The gemstone obtains its color from the impurities from the chromium element. Traces of vanadium in sapphire brings a purple color. Titanium makes the corundum colorless and that makes a white Sapphire. The presence of iron provides a pale yellow or green color. The combination of iron and titanium impurities is responsible for the deep-blue color of the rare Sapphire.
There is also a rare variety of natural sapphire that is called a color-change sapphire. A color change Sapphire will display different colors under various lightings. It can show that is deep blue when under natural light and purple under artificial light. This type of sapphire is found in different regions and the color-changing effect is because it absorbs unequivocal wavelengths of light. The presence of chromium and vanadium in the sapphire makes it have different colors under various lightings.
What Is It Used For?
Sapphire is a vastly known gemstone that is used all over the world. Extensively, sapphire is used to make valuable pieces of jewelry. The sapphire stone that features a deep blue color with brilliant limpidity is more valuable compared to the rest. Also, yellow, pink, and orange are becoming quite popular and are used to make bracelets, rings, earrings, necklaces, and more. Faded blue and green sapphires are used as jewelry but not quite often. Sapphires are greatly used as secondary gemstones that complement the likes of diamonds. Padparadscha is an orange-pink Sapphire that is extremely rare and more valuable than the known blue Sapphire. It can be used to make the most priced jewels.
Sapphires are also applied in industrial technologies to make watch crystal components and movement bearings. They are also used in scientific instruments, high-grade windows to ensure maximum durability, and also in shielding substrates in state electronics. Sapphire also has advantages on the well-being pf a person according to the ancient believes. It is purported to release mental tension and evil thoughts to the wearer. Some cultures believe that blue Sapphire helps in preventing one from straying from the spiritual path.
What Is It Worth?
Sapphires, like the great gemstones all around the world, come at a high price. However, the prices range depending on the features and quality of each gemstone. Their prices vary because they are available in a variety of colors and sizes. The highly saturated blue colored sapphire will cost a lot more compared to other lighter colors. This is mainly because sapphires with a deep blue color come in large sizes. Another highly-priced sapphire is the pink / Padparadscha sapphire. This is an extremely rare piece that also features a unique color. The reason for its expensive nature is uniqueness and clarity.
When determining the worth of sapphire, you need to also look at the weight, clarity and cut details. Most gemstones are weighed in carats and the more the value, the pricier it is. The clarity of sapphire is way more important than the cut since it can always be re-cut to achieve a perfect end product. Sapphire is treated and enhanced to improve and retain its quality. The best treatment so far is the heat treatment to intensify the color and eliminate inclusions for enhanced clarity. This type of sapphire is also expensive. Some sapphires have been diffused to alter the color of the original stone. These types are usually inexpensive since they are readily available.
What Is a Star Sapphire?
Star Sapphire is one that reveals the visual spectacle known as the asterism. An asterism is a star-shaped pattern that is seen on the surface of a gemstone when associated with either artificial or natural light. The light hits the inclusions that are within the stone and the inclusions bounce it right back to create a narrow band of light. Intersecting light bands appear to form a star-like pattern on the surface. Normally, the rays of the crystal formed are six but in rare cases, you can count to twelve.
Jewelry companies such as Bixler offer a great collection of sapphire jewelry that you can choose from.
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