Sapphires: A Classic That is Anything But Classical

With the recent popularity of precious minerals in all colours of the rainbow, a certain fact about sapphires has dawned on the public at large: these stones come not only in their most traditional blue, but also in crimson, pink-orange, purple, orange, yellow, black, green, and even colourless!

Corundums have adorned kings and queens since time immemorial, and they belong to a prestigious group of precious minerals including diamonds and emeralds. When it comes to sapphires, there are valuable types in all colours. Red corundum, of course, has its own name – ruby – but the question remains: why is it that the blue variant of the sapphire is so prevalent and widespread?

There are several opinions on why this is the case. First, blue corundum is the most common naturally occurring colour. This is simply a fact. Another possible reason is etymological. The Greek meaning of the word "sapphire" (sappheiros) translates as “blue stone” and, until 1800, due to scientific ignorance, almost all blue stones were referred to by this moniker. But my favourite explanation is the slightly more fabulous version, according to which blue sapphires enjoyed the attention of the aristocracies of the world due to their romantic association with the notion of being “blue-blooded”.

The craftsmanship behind a Gübelin Rising Lotus design with Padparadscha sapphires

However, both the eras of classical antiquity and the Middle Ages are now bygone and we are fortunate enough to live in a wonderfully enlightened era in which a gemmologist is armed with not only their eyes, but also complex scientific research methods and access to already well-studied sapphire mining sites allowing them to get intimately acquainted with the entire spectrum of corundum. For example, if you recall my writing on the Wennick-Lefèvre company, which mines natural sapphires in Madagascar, then you probably remember that natural sapphires owe their rich palette to their specific chemical composition, which varies for each shade. Colourless aluminium oxide, with the inclusion of iron, chromium, vanadium, titanium as well as other elements, results in a mineral with a rich variety of hues.

Ruchi Enchanted Evening Celeste bracelet with 123.38 carats of blue sapphires and 1.64 carats of diamonds

Regardless of its colour, sapphire is distinguished by its unique hardness and excellent ability to refract light, due to which this stone can boast a magnificent and colourful playfulness. This is why we increasingly see jewellery that is decorated not only with blue sapphires, but also with corundums of all colours of the rainbow. Prime examples include earrings in the latest Pastelo collection from Bucherer Fine Jewellery; the Desert Blooms ring and bracelet from Ruchi Jewellery or the Malak rings and earrings by Nasa Ghazal.

Indeed, the examples don’t end there. I would suggest, readers, that you take this opportunity to look at the below gallery of jewellery that makes use of sapphires, both multi-coloured and in the more traditional blue. Carefully look at both sections of this gallery of images and I am sure that you will reach a conclusion about which shades take your fancy, whether it be the noble and classical blue or the wide range of alternative colours that you now know are part of sapphire’s chameleonic act.

Send enquiry about featured jewellery.