The Meaning and History of Sapphire
The sapphire is the birthstone
for the month of September. The name sapphire is derived from the Latin word ““saphirus” and the Greek word “sapheiros,” both meaning blue. Some believe that the name sapphire is derived from its association with the planet Saturn. The name can be roughly be translated to mean “dear to the planet Saturn” in many different languages.
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Sapphires have been prized as great gemstones since 800BC. Rulers of ancient Persia believed the sky was painted blue by the reflection of sapphire stones. And a great poet once described the sapphire as “the blue of a clear sky just minutes after sundown.” Blue sapphires were a holy stone to the catholic church and to Ancient Persians, who believed they made the sky blue with their reflections. To some religions, the blue color of the sapphire represents the heavens. Sapphires are stones of the apocalypse, and ancient lore held that the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written, were actually sapphire. This has to mean that either the script was very tiny, or the sapphire was made by the hands of someone other than mother earth, as its size would have had to have been quite adequate!
Kings wore sapphires around their necks as a powerful defense from harm. They preserved the wearer from envy and attracted divine favor. In the 12th Century, the sapphire was known as the most appropriate stone for ecclesiastical rings. The Cingalese believed that the star sapphire served as protection and a guard against witchcraft. The great Oriental traveler, Sir Richard Francis Burton
, had a large star sapphire which he referred to as his “talisman
,” for it always brought him good horses and prompt attention wherever he went. Just the mere sight of the stone was believed to bring luck and he showed it to people everywhere he went. King Solomon wore a sapphire ring. And in modern times, the sapphire grew notorious when we saw Prince Charles give a sapphire engagement ring
to Lady Diana.
The Museum of Natural History in New York
is home to the one of the most notorious sapphires in the world, the “Star of India
,” a sapphire of 563 carats! The sapphire has for a long time, been identified with chastity, piety, and repentance. It brings wisdom and truth, increases perception and the understanding of justice. It helps find peace of mind and serenity and promotes a life of sincerity, helping preserve one’s innocence while learning life’s truths. Sapphires also are associated with romantic love, representing fidelity and romantic devotion. I it also used for a quest to increase one’s faith, hope and joy and to keep thoughts pure and heavenly.
Mystical Powers of Sapphire
*The information provided here is for entertainment and reference purposes only. It is based on centuries of folklore, most of which camethe birthstones of your loved ones, or your favorite combination of colors about before the age of modern medicine. It is not meant as actual medical information. For advice about any of the illnesses listed, please visit a qualified physician.
The sapphire has, for centuries, been seen as a symbol of the heavens, a guardian of innocence, a bestower of truth, a promoter of good health, and a preserver of chastity. It is believed to brings gifts of fulfillment, joy, prosperity, inner peace and beauty. Some wore it to ward off illness or as protection while traveling.
In the middle ages, people believed wearing a sapphire suppressed negative thoughts. It also has been long believed to have a curing power for natural ailments. In ancient Persia, If ground up, it was used as an all purpose medicine. Ivan the Terrible of Russia
stated that the sapphire strengthened the heart and muscles and endowed a person with courage. Others said it was an anecdote for poison- it killed snakes on site and if engraved with the figure of a man or a ram, would cure all illness and elevate the owner to a high position.
In parts of the Orient, Saturday was the day to dress in blue and wear blue sapphire. The color blue and the blue stone indicated wisdom, and generous thinking. It is also associated with the study of heaven and the stars. During the 11th and 12th centuries, sorcerers honored the sapphire more than any other stone as it enabled them to hear and understand the most obscure oracles. Not only did they help to get in touch with astral and psychic realms, but also they provided protection for those who took those journeys.
But the most important attribute of the sapphire was said to be the protection against sorcery- it was thought to banish evil spirits and send negative spells back to the sender. Sapphires were once used to guarded off poisonous creatures and kill snakes hiding nearby. They also provided advanced warning against hidden dangers. As a tool for self improvement, sapphires are a wonderful way to keep your life in check. They are said to have a powerful and transformative gemstone energy that may work quickly and drastically. They will help you connect to the universe, that is, they can open your internal and spiritual self to the powers of the universe.
They are also thought to increase communication with, connection to, and awareness of spirit guides, or angels. They activate and manifest one’s life purpose and focus and karmic agreements for soul growth. Psychologically, the sapphire helps maintain inner peace and are good for one’s mental state. They calm nerves and promote mental clarity, helping with focus and concentration. They have also been used as remedies for mental and nervous disorders.
Working with sapphires helps promote a positive attitude towards life, promoting self motivation and helping move forward towards a path of self-fulfillment. Physically, sapphires promote general health. They are said to have powers in cooling fevers, protecting against mental illness and sharpening eyesight. One ancient recipe for eyesight was to powder the stone and mix it with vinegar. The same recipe was used to treat nosebleeds. Sapphires were also used to treat fevers and rheumatism. When treating boils and external ulcers, they were ground and mixed with milk. The paste was then applied to the afflicted area. They are also said to cure ulcers
Physical Properties and Science of Sapphire
The sapphire is a corundum
, an aluminum oxide with a trigonal crystal structure, in the same family as the ruby
. The only difference between a ruby and a sapphire is simply the color. A red corundum is a ruby. Other colored corundums are called sapphires, which come in many colors, the most well known being blue. Because sapphires are available in so many colors, they are the most important and versatile of all the gemstones. Rubies and sapphires are said to be prized just under the level of diamonds because of their hardness. Diamonds are listed as a ten in terms of hardness, sapphires as a nine. The attribute of hardness of the sapphire makes it a perfect choice for jewelry that needs to stand up to everyday wear, such as in rings or bracelets.
The gem’s inclusions reflect light that yields a faint sheen referred to as “silk.” The most transparent, colorless variety of sapphires are known as “Leucosapphire.” Some have streaks of pale color inside, some have that slightly silky sheen and in strong light, their color intensifies. Sapphires are usually given round or oval cuts but rectangular or square cuts are also possible.
Fine sapphires are most available under two carats, but they can also be found in sizes from five to ten carats. The color of a sapphire is created by various amounts of iron and titanium
in the stone, the combination of which produce varying colors. Heat treatments have become common in recent years, as a way of improving color as the beauty of a sapphire is judged by the richness and intensity of its color. The most desirable color sapphire is blue, and the most desirable shade of blue is referred to as “cornflower blue.” It is neither light nor dark blue. Like rubies, sapphires can come with a natural six rayed star inside, which is called the “star sapphire” and is extremely rare. The star sapphire reflects light, showing a glittering star with six points. These special stones possess the deep blue color of the finest sapphire. The gray, blue-gray, and white “star” sapphires frequently show a more distinct star. In the gemstone trade, these are also referred to as “Linde,” pronounced “Lin-dee.”
Sapphires also come in violet, dark gray, orange, yellow, pink, green and black, which tends to be relatively inexpensive. These different colored sapphires are referred to as “fancy sapphires” and are often less expensive than the blue ones, yet equally as beautiful and a fine alternative to blue. A rare colored kind of sapphire is called “Padparadscha,” which means “Lotus color.” It is the only color sapphire given it’s own name besides the ruby
. This stone is orange and pink simultaneously and can be very expensive.
Blue sapphires come from Burma and Kashmir, where the blue tone is the most pure to the true spectral blue, and the stones tend to have a unique velvety luster. Sapphires from Sri Lanka are a less deep shade, almost a pastel blue. Many sapphires also come from Australia
, which are dark blue but with a slightly green undertone, as those from Thailand
. These tend to be less expensive than those from Burma, Kashmir and Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is the world’s largest producer of sapphires over 100 carats and they are a lighter shade of blue. Stones from the Mogok valley in Burma are very highly regarded, and many star sapphires come from there. Dark blue sapphires are found in New South Wales and Queensland Australia
. Gems from Western Cambodia are also highly prized, but usually small. China
and Nigeria produce dark stones and in the US, Montana sapphires are prized for their natural metallic blue color. They are not subjected to any treatment, as sapphires are normally heat treated to eliminate impurities and enhance the color and clarity- this treatment is usually permanent. Sapphires also come from Tanzania, Brazil
, Kenya, Malawi and Columbia.
Because of their hardness, Sapphires can be cleaned in almost any way. Warm, soapy water is best, though you might also try ultrasonic cleaners and steamers. You can also try using water with a touch of ammonia in it. If you have a fracture
in your sapphire or own a star sapphire, do not use mechanical cleaning methods as a sapphire can shatter with one single blow, if hit sharply. This may be especially risky if the stone has inclusions, which weaken the crystal structure. As with most valuable stones, avoid doing heavy work or coming into contact with chemicals while wearing your stone, as they can damage your settings.