Sapphires are the birthstone of September, so here are 10 facts about these stunning stones.
- Commonly, natural sapphires are cut and polished into gemstones and worn in jewellery. They also may be created synthetically in laboratories for industrial or decorative purposes in large crystal boules.
- The best-known sapphires are the rich blue variety, but they actually come in every colour of the rainbow—including pink, yellow, orange, and green. Red sapphires are better known as rubies (both are varieties of the mineral corundum).
- Sapphires get their colours from trace elements in the mineral corundum. It is turned to blue sapphire when it contains iron and titanium, and trace elements of chromium can turn corundum pink, while more chromium turns it into a ruby.
- The rarest type of sapphire is a pinkish orange variety called padparadscha, a name that comes from the Sanskrit word for lotus flower.
- Violet and purple can contribute to the overall beauty of the colour of a sapphire, whilst green is considered to be distinctly negative.
- Sapphires are among the most durable naturally occurring elements in the world. Gemstones are rated on their ability to withstand scratching based on a system called the Mohs Scale of Hardness, and sapphires score a 9 out of 10. The only natural item that can scratch a sapphire is a diamond.
- Because of this hardness, sapphire also has industrial uses. The recently announced Apple Watch will feature lab-created sapphire glass in its screen.
- Sapphires may be treated by several methods to enhance and improve their clarity and colour. It is common practice to heat natural sapphires to improve or enhance colour. Un-heated natural stones are somewhat rare and will often be sold accompanied by a certificate from an independent gemological laboratory attesting to "no evidence of heat treatment".
- Throughout history various cultures have attributed mystical powers to sapphires. In ancient times it was believed that sapphires protected their wearers from evil. In the middle ages, Europeans believed that sapphires cured eye diseases and preserved chastity. Sapphires have been used to symbolize nobility and faithfulness. Sapphires were often worn by medieval kings, who believed that the gemstones would protect them from their enemies.
- The Logan Sapphire is a flawless specimen from Sri Lanka, a cushion-cut stone which possesses a rich deep blue colour and is the second largest (blue) sapphire known, weighing 422.99 carats (84.6 g). The cushion-cut stone is one of the world's largest and most famous sapphires (its size about that of an egg) that was cut from a crystal mined in Sri Lanka. The Logan Sapphire is named after Mrs. Polly Logan, who donated the gemstone to the Smithsonian Institution in 1960.
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