For more than a thousand years, many jewellers have celebrated the exquisite beauty of sapphire. In earlier times, people believed that the firmament was actually an enormous blue sapphire, with the Earth embedded within it. Sapphires, as we know them today, come in different colours that reflect the varying shades of the sky—from the bright, translucent blue of a summer’s day to the deep blue vault of a moonlit midnight.

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Where Sapphires are Found

Sapphires, like most gemstones, are mined from the ground. Sapphire is formed by natural volcanic and metamorphic processes that occur deep in the earth due to high pressure and temperature. Liquid magma slowly cools minerals such as corundum, from which sapphire gemstones are refined. 

Such a process takes millions of years before the purest and the most translucent mineral forms are created. Deep below the ground, amidst the pressure and heat of the earth’s layers, the crystallisation of rocks occurs. Although the purest forms of these minerals are clear and colourless, mineral impurities manage to seep into the aluminium oxide as the rocks begin to cool, and consequently lend the gems their otherworldly colours. India, Thailand, Burma, Australia, Vietnam, Brazil, and Africa are known for their rich deposits of corundum minerals that are then made into delicate sapphires of varying hues.

Sapphires in History

In ancient Greece, sapphires were synonymous with lapis lazuli. Kings and queens would often wear these gems for protection from envy and harm. In the Middle Ages, members of the clergy would often be seen wearing blue sapphires on their fingers to symbolise their connection to Heaven. Elsewhere, sapphires were believed to inspire harmony between enemies, guard chastity, and reveal the secrets of oracles.

Today, sapphire engagement rings are  seen on prominent personalities such as that of Princess Diana’s engagement ring from Prince Charles. Many are also drawn to sapphire for its purported spiritual powers that inspire purity and attract blessings.

What Makes Sapphires Special?

Although most people associate sapphires with pale or intensely vivid shades of blue, the gemstone has been enhanced to produce a number of other interesting hues. Such a diversity gives everyone more choices when it comes to engagement rings. Corundum sapphire is also recognised as quite solid and durable, exceeded only in its hardness by diamonds.

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Sapphire History and Lore, Gemological Institute of America

Sapphire, International Colored Gemstone Association

Gifts from the Earth: Where Do Gemstones Come From?, Extreme Science