Sapphire - one of the September stones mascots
Our next publication under the heading "Stone mascot of the month" is about the September sapphire. Deep blue autumn sky, especially in the evenings, reminds us of one of the most beautiful and noblest stones -- sapphire. Sapphire is the first-class mineral, which along with diamond, emerald and ruby, is one of the most precious gems known to humankind. Sapphire (the Greek. 'Sаppherios' means blue stone) is a variety of corundum. Physical mineralogy treats sapphire as a corundum of blue colour; jewelry industry considers corundum of any colour a saphire, the purplish-red variety being the exception. Until the 18th century, all jems were referred to sapphires, but Swedish natural philosopher Johan Gottschalk Wallerius suggested that only blue specimen were called sapphires.
Deep blue colour corundum deposits were discovered in all continents, with the exception of Antarctic Regions. Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and Burma are nowadays the world leaders in sapphire mining and export. Ample quantity of sapphires is mined in Madagascar, Australia, Brazil, the USA and the majority of African countries. The major deposits in Russia are the Urals and the Kola Peninsula. Russian sapphires are not distinguished for their quality; most of them are grey-blue, while the most valuable stones in the global market are cornflower-colored.
It is interesting to note that sapphires from different deposits have their own unique, impurity-dependent colours. This peculiarity helps specialists determine the 'birthplace' of each stone. The most precious and beautiful sapphires, recognized as the benchmark, are the Kashmirian ones that got their name from the place where they were mined - Kashmir (a disputed area occupied by India and Pakistan). They have vibrant blue cornflower shade and do not change color depending on illumination, moreover they are opaque due to microcrystalline inclusions. Mix of chromium and iron provides golden hue. Another metal that color the mineral is titanium. Coloured sapphires of all shades except blue specimen are called fancy sapphires.
Pliny the Elder was the first to describe this corundum in his “Natural History”. He articulated several scientific facts concerning diagnostic properties of sapphires: color variation, lustre, change of colour when rotated and mentioned the sites of its mining.
At all times jewellery with sapphires stood very high. According to popular belief, the royal mineral was treated as a symbol of hope, fidelity, purity and innocence. In ancient Rome, only the priests serving in the Jupiter temple wore rings with cornflower sapphires. In India and Judaea, the churchmen vestments were adorned with sapphires of this quality. Blue sapphires sparkled in the crown of Cleopatra. In the Eastern countries, sapphire was called the "talisman of those who are wise". Large faceted sapphires are the crown jewels of various museum collections around the world. The collection of the Gokhran (Diamond Treasury) of the Russian Federation features “The Imperial Orb”, the top part of which is decorated with the magnificent sapphire weighing 200 carats. There is also a brooch with a cornflower blue sapphire weighing 258 carats. Sapphire is a stone that has been attributed with magical properties for centuries, largely due to its color range. For example, the minerals of deep blue color have been always associated with divine power and authority by various civilizations. According to astrologers, jewellery with sapphires is beneficial for the health of a person that wears it.