For centuries sapphire was prized by royalty. It is in the corundum family of gemstones, the second hardest gemstone at 9.5 on the MOHS scale, and when it is red, it is called ruby due to the presence of chromium in the stone. The other shades of corundum are all sapphire and come in yellow, orange, pink, white, purple, green, black and, of course, blue. In blue, sapphire brings order, harmony and the ability to see to the truth of things. Black sapphires are mainly mined in Australia and are not expensive.
Sapphires can be found in many countries: Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Burma, Thailand, Australia and in the United States, in Montana. Montana sapphires are highly prized, along with Sri Lankan, Thai, and Burmese sapphires. A light salmon colored sapphire is called “padparadscha” and is treasured by gem connoisseurs. Padparadscha is the rarest form of sapphire in the world today.
Buying: red spinel can often be passed off to a buyer as ruby and blue spinel can be passed off as sapphire. Spinel grows in the same situations and alongside corundum, so in the past, traders thought they were the same stone. Now that we can check the chemical composition, we know that they are not the same. Spinel is only 7.5-8 on the MOHS scale while ruby and sapphires are 9.5 which is a much harder stone. Only a diamond is harder than a sapphire or a ruby.
Because sapphire is an expensive gemstone, purchase from reputable dealers and ask for a gemstone certificate issued by either GIA, AGTA-GTC, SSEF, GAAJ, CISGEM, OR GIT. This certification costs the dealer to provide but it assures every one of the authenticity of the gemstone.
Ask if the gemstones were mined ethically without using child labor or in conflict areas. Child labor is often used in Madagascar, so sapphires originating from there should be avoided or certified as “conflict free.”
Caring for Sapphire Jewelry:
Just like with any expensive gemstone, put your jewelry on last, after you have finished putting on your makeup and have applied hairspray, so that any harsh chemicals will not harm your jewelry.
Even though sapphires are very hard, they can still become scratched or lose their luster when doing some activities. Take off your jewelry before cleaning or washing or gardening.
Check any prong set jewelry for loose stones and take the piece to a jeweler to tighten the setting if it is loose. You would not want the stone to fall out of its setting. In fact, once a year is a good time to take your expensive jewelry to a jeweler to clean them professionally and to check the settings.
Sapphires can be cleaned by dipping them into lukewarm water (only lukewarm, not hot water) with mild detergent. Let them sit for a minute and then brush them with a very soft brush. Rinse in clear lukewarm water and tap them dry with a soft cloth. Clean them regularly, even if you haven’t worn them for a while. With care, you can maintain your gorgeous stones for a lifetime.
Store each of your jewelry pieces in separate compartments in a jewelry box and wrap each in clean muslin cloths to protect them.