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Gemstones Facts


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September Birthstone

SapphiresSapphire birthstone

Mohs scale hardness: 9

The sapphire is the serene, more subtly beautiful sister stone of the ruby. Both gems belong to the corundum mineral family and are essentially crystallized alumunium oxide. Red corundum which consists of alumunium oxide and traces of chromium is called ruby, while blue corundum colored by traces of titanium and iron is known as sapphire. Like rubies, sapphires are second in hardness only to diamonds.

Types of Sapphires

Corundum containing other trace elements appears in a spectrum of colors, including yellow, violet, pink, green and orange. Any corundum gemstones which are not red or blue are called “fancy sapphires”. Blue is by far the most popular of the sapphire colors. The color is not as bright as  Ruby and the blue color of sapphire cannot be too blue “over-blue”  or too far away from blue  “under-blue” because the price can be badly affected, the ideal color of sapphire is sky blue. If sapphire is heated and the color fade and turns white is called leuko saffer. Purple sapphire contains the trace element vanadium and are lower in price than blue ones. Green and yellow sapphires have traces of iron while pink sapphires have trace element of chromium, the deeper the color pink (as long as it is going towards red), then the higher the value of the stone. White sapphires are usually heated sapphires that originally come out from the ground as light gray or brown. They also can be found in clear state but in very rare circunstances.

The name sapphire derives from the Greek sapphirus for blue, in Latin is called sapphirus and in Persian is called yakut-i-asrak. Sapphires is the recommended gemstones for anniversary of 5th and 45th years of marriage. Buddhists consider the sapphire a symbol for peace and faithfulness in love, making it a popular choice for an engagement ring gem.

Sapphire Heat Treatment

It is estimated that ninety percent of rubies and sapphires on the world market today undergo heat treatment, a permanent process widely accepted by the gem trade. The gem dealers perfected a heat treatment process that transformed the worthless gems into valuable gems. By “cooking” the stones at high temperatures, they worked a kind of alchemy. The titanium dissolved and mixed better with iron, deepening the blue color of the gems. They then experimented on different colored sapphires and rubies, and learned that a valuable sapphire or ruby could be made even more valuable by “burning” out slight flaws. The process is risky, as certain stones may crack,melt or explode. In some cases, the gems lose all their color.

The heating process is a permanent enhancement. Another artificial method of changing the natural color of the gem is by diffusion, whereby beryllium or a similar elemen is diffused into the suface of the gemstone. This treatment is far less costly and much more available. However, any sapphire or ruby exposed to this treatment will have a surface color different from that of the interior. Diffusion treatment may also cause color concentration at facet junctions and the refractive index of the gem will also be modified. Information regarding diffusion shuold be provided on the invoice for your jewelry. Repolishing or recutting may affect the color of some diffusion-treated gems.

One way to find out whether the sapphire has been heat treated is to check the gem for its rutile needles under magnification. Unbroken neddles indicates that the gem has not beenn heat treated, but if the silk is not visible then the gem was heated adequately. A partially broken silk also means that the precious stone has gone through a process known as low tube heat. Low tube heat is used to heat the rough stone to about 1000 C for 20 - 30 minutes over charcoal in order to remove the brown or gray in the stone and improves color saturation.

It is believed sapphires have special properties:

Asian origins: Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India.

Star sapphire

Fine star rubies and sapphires are highly valuable. The star moves across the face of the stone with shifts in light, an effect known as “asterism”. The best ones possess an intensely rich body color and a strong sharp star with all six rays equally straight and prominent. It is extremely rare to find a gem that combines these qualities. Perhaps because of the blue background, which gives them a heavenly appearance, star sapphires were particularly prized in ancient times. They were considered a powerful talisman and a guiding star for travelers and seekers. The Sinhalese believe that a star sapphire protects the wearer from witchcraft. It is considered so powerful that even when the original owner passes the stone on to someone else he continues to receive its protection.

Astrologiaclly, sapphires are associated with the zodiac signs of Aries, Cancer, Libra and Taurus.
September birth flower: Aster.



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