Colourful Corundums


In the competitive jewellery marketplace, the term corundum by definition is "a very hard mineral that consists of aluminium oxide occurring in massive and crystalline forms that are used for gemstones (such as ruby and sapphire) and as an abrasive." Similar to red rubies, sapphires don't turn this colour but achieve pinkish shades from trace elements of chromium and more of this element turning the gem closer to a coral or salmon hue. The more common blue sapphires get a similar effect from iron and titanium.


The rarest colour for these gemstones are the pinkish-orange varieties known the padparadscha, coming from the Sanskrit word for lotus flower. There are some types of sapphires whose colours change according to lighting exhibiting differing densities in their shades from morning to later incandescent evening lights. The title of sapphire itself derives from the Greek word sappheiros which has ties to another blue gemstone labelled the lapis lazuli. 


More Fun Facts and Trivia


These gemstones are one of the most durable and naturally occurring elements found in the world. Rated on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, sapphires score a top-notch score of 9 out of 10. The scale measures the ability of gemstones to stand up under the threat of being scratched on the surface. The only other naturally occurring substance that is able to scratch a sapphire is a diamond, which makes it an excellent choice for jewellery.


Given these properties, this gem is currently being man-made in laboratory environments in order to be used inside such products as the popular Apple Watch screen. In more ancient times, sapphires have a unique background including these facts and trivia:

  • Many ancient cultures believed this stone had mystic powers including protecting the wearer from evil
  • Preserving chastity and curing eye diseases was the belief of some Europeans
  • Their royal blue colour has been used as a symbol for power, nobility and royalty
  • Many Medieval kings wore sapphires believing these stones would protect them from their enemies


Sapphire Mining


We've already established colours come from different minerals being present during the early stages of the development of these gemstones. Locating, unearthing, mining, transporting, ultimately crafting, cutting and setting these precious gems is no easy task. Countless hours of research and labour along with tons of earth being moved are all necessary to bring this stone from mine to marketplace.


Locations of where these gems are mostly being mined include unique and specific spots inside Australia, Burma, Kashmir, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. In these natural environments, there are three main ways sapphires are mined:

  1. Smaller, open or shallow pit mines found inside countries like Sri Lanka and Madagascar
  2. Larger commercial mines in territories found in Thailand and Australia
  3. High water pressure mining is used in some South American and African countries.


Of the three listed, the latter method often delivers higher quantities of rough gemstones but wreaks havoc on the environment. Using intense water pressure the topsoil is stripped away revealing gravel beds bearing these stones. Once the product has been located and removed, the land left behind is bare, with infertile soil and almost completely unusable. In the future, environmentalists are hoping the practice of using high water pressure to mine these stones come to a stop.


Royalty and Regular Wear


Looking towards a brighter future when examining its past, the sapphire has made its way onto the fingers of both notable royals and regular folks. Back in 1796, when Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte became engaged to his beloved Josephine, the French nobleman gave her a stunning sapphire ring to seal the deal. The pear-shaped stone was seated next to a diamond of the same cut on a simple gold band and would later be sold at auction for nearly a million dollars (or over £820,000).


Another famous royal sapphire was given to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 by England's Prince Charles. Following Princess Di's unfortunate and untimely demise, today the 18-carat oval blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds is being worn by Princess Catherine. But these gemstones aren't just for royalty to wear as they gained popularity and notoriety among "commoners" during the Victorian age.


Real Gemstones or Replicas


Similar to cubic zirconia being pawned off as a genuine diamond, sapphires are also subject to the same type of fake presentations. Unless you’re an expert in the jewellery industry, it can be difficult to correctly deduce the difference. A relative new-comer to this deceptive practice, "Lead Glass-Filled Sapphires" are making their way onto the marketplace along with another synthetic fake known as the “Flame Fusion Sapphire.”


One way to spot the imposter is to look for flaws or inclusions in the stone which actually point to the real deal. Using light and a jeweller's 10X magnifying glass, viewers should be looking into the gem for small specks that signal it is genuine and not man-made. However, in the case of glass forgeries, the examiner may find tiny bubbles inside the supposed gemstone which occur when the glass cools after construction. The best way to ensure the sapphire in genuine is to purchase from a knowledgeable and respected jeweller.


Making The Perfect Purchase


So we've looked inside the sapphire's colour spectrum, fun facts, the way they're mined, some stunning examples of brilliant rings from the past and how to spot a phoney. When you're in the market to make this important purchase, again ensure you're visiting a reputable jewellery dealer. They'll need to have an exquisite collection of these gemstones in a variety of different cuts and styles available in everything from earrings to necklaces and engagement bands.


Eight Excellent Examples


Here at Jacobs the Jewellers, we have an enormous selection of sapphire options available to fit almost any budget from £315 to £15,000 or more. Some of the best examples from our collection include these eight best-selling favourites. Each has the option of being reserved for in-store viewing along with a professional consultation from one of our expert jewellery staff members:

  1. 18ct Yellow Gold Sapphire 1.07ct & Diamond 0.55ct Cluster Ring: For fans of the Royal Family, a similar design that was delivered to Lady Diane back in the day is found in what would make for an excellent engagement ring at an affordable price compared to what Prince Charles spent.
  2. Platinum Sapphire + Diamond Ring: Another potential engagement ring that's similar to the previous example, this regal design is showcased on a platinum band featuring a sapphire stone of over 2cts surrounded by diamonds around the gem itself and more on top of the ring.
  3. 18ct White Gold Sapphire + Diamond Drop Earrings: Dripping with a dozen sapphires surrounded by diamonds, gifting and presenting a pair of these earrings will have jaws dropping.
  4. 18ct Gold White TIVON Sapphire + Diamond Pendant: For pendant purchasers, we happily embrace the Tivon style of fine jewellery as we're proud to present this trio of sapphires draping down from a ring of supporting diamonds displayed on a 17" chain.
  5. Bremont Watches: When it comes to jewellery, watches are often overlooked as a fashion accessory and the Bremont line of these timepieces fits this niche to a tee. Although these gemstones aren't seen visually on the surface, still sapphires are an important part of their design since they're often contained in the screen similar to the Apple concept shared previously. 
  6. 18ct White Gold Sapphire + Diamond Earrings: This colourful style of earrings showcases a palette of different rainbow shades of sapphires highlighting a seven-studded diamond centrepiece. 
  7. 18ct White Gold 0.75ct Sapphire + 0.25ct Diamond Cluster Pendant: Mirroring the previous pair of earrings in style and substance, this equally colourful necklace makes for a perfect presentation when paired together. 
  8. 18ct Gold Sapphire Earrings: This pair of solid gold studs feature round-cut sapphires in a butterfly setting for less than £500.


For those on a tight budget, in the £315 to £500 range, there's pair of hexagonal, mother-of-pearl cufflinks for £315 and a similar choice of 18ct white gold sapphire earrings for the same price as their other precious metal counterpart.


In a recent blog post, we highlighted Four Timeless Sapphire Jewellery Pieces To Desire For This September and we've got a lot more to choose from both online and at our storefront location in Reading, Berkshire. If you're still having trouble finding precisely what you're seeking, have questions, comments or concerns, please reach out to us today.


We’re always here for you and want to make sure you're getting exactly what your heart desires when it comes to finding the perfect sapphire for whatever the occasion. For those who are celebrating their arrival on earth during the month of September, here’s wishing you a very Happy birthday from everyone here at Jacobs.