Sapphire is identical in structure to ruby and is a variety of the
mineral corundum. Sapphires
are seen widely as blue in color with red and pink red corundum
stones being classified as rubies. This stone is extremely hard and
makes for a very durable gemstone. Favored among these stones are
those with the classic star pattern. This stone is mined the world
over and the origin of the stone often determines the intensity of
its color and sparkle. Sapphire
can be found in many areas of Africa, Southeast and Central Asia, the
United States, Mexico and Australia. Corundum has been manufactured
synthetically for industrial and gemstone purposes since the early
twentieth century. Therefore, care must be taken when purchasing a
stone since there are a variety ways to artificially enhance the
color and appearance of corundum.
Along with its red cousin the ruby,
sapphires have a long and hallowed history that dates back to
ancient times. It was once thought that any blue stone was a
sapphire. Long valued by royalty these stones have even held a place
of prominence in the Roman Catholic Church. The ancient Persians
believed that the blue of the sky was somehow connected to sapphires
and the stones were often thought to be gift from the heavens.
Sapphire is recognized as the birthstone
of September and associated with the astrological birth signs of
Sagittarius, Virgo and Libra.
New Age Beliefs and Powers Through The Ages
Depending on the color, this stone has been said to possess many
metaphysical powers. Among gemstones sapphires
are one of the most highly regarded and powerful stones. Among the
powers attributed to wearing this stone are wisdom, truth and the
granting of marital bliss and fidelity. The stone is thought to ward
off a myriad of physical and mental illness, as well as impart a
sense of calmness and serenity. The heavenly qualities of the stone
were thought to protect the wearer against curses and witchcraft.
Sapphire refers to all colors of corundum expect for reds and pinks
which are considered rubies. This stone can be found in an
extraordinary range of colors including the classic blue and shades
brown, black, gray and purple to name just a few. The beautiful and
classic star pattern sometimes found in sapphire consists of a six
line star pattern intersecting at sixty degree increments.
Variations in color can occur depending on the amount of titanium,
iron or chromium impurity found in the stone.
Artificial Forms of Enhancement
There are several processes used to artificially enhance the color
and appearance of these stones. Heat treatment is done in order to
deepen the color and the stones be exposed to a process known as
irradiation to change the color. Stones that have not undergone any
type of artificial enhancement are considered to have a higher value.
General Scientific Information
The chemical name Al2O3 and is referred to corundum.
Hardness measures 9.0 on the Mohs scale - the Mohs scale measures the
hardness of metals, minerals, gemstones and crystals on a scale of 1
to 10. For example the hardness properties of most quartz crystals
fall around 7 on the scale, as does steel and titanium. Diamond
is the hardest known substance on the Mohs scale coming in at a hard
10. To most consumers hardness generally reflects the stones able to
resist scratches and cracks.
There is no cleavage found in sapphire.
The index of refraction ranges between 1.757 and 1.779 and generally
indicates the purity of the stone.
The specific gravity ranges from 3.96 to 4.1
The crystalline system is hexagonal.