What is Sapphire
Ancient Symbolism: Wisdom & Strength
Ancient civilizations held Sapphire to a high regard for its vibrant blue reminiscing the colour of the sky and heaven, because of its association to the high power, sapphire was believed to be a powerful stone that offered protective and healing power. Many looked to the precious stone for guidance and blessings in lost time, and it was often carried as a talisman by the leaders and rulers of the ancient Greece and Rome.
The origin of birthstones can be traced as far back as the Breastplate of Aaron from the Book of Exodus in the Bible. Also known as the Priestly Breastplate, it was a sacred ornament adorned with 12 different gemstones, each representing a tribe, it was worn by the High Priest of the Israelites over the chest with the Ephod as a gesture to take the 12 tribes of Israel before God in rituals. The correlation between gemstones and cultural concepts continued to evolved throughout the centuries, it wasn’t until the 1912, the National Association of Jewellers in America defined the list of birthstones as we know it today and Sapphire was assigned to the month of September.
Associated with integrity, fidelity and loyalty, sapphire jewellery is used to celebrate the 5th and 45th wedding anniversary in modern cultures. For the British Royal Family, a Sapphire Jubilee marks a monarch’s 65 years of reign, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated hers in 2017 as the first British monarch to have reached this milestone.
The protective quality and its association with wealth has made Sapphire a desired precious for the royal families since ancient times. The Peacock Throne commissioned by Shah Jahan, the 5th emperor of the Mughal Empire who also commissioned the Taj Mahal, was a majestic stage throne crafted mainly out of gold and sapphires that took 7 years to complete. The British Royal Family on the other hand, has a long history of incorporating sapphires in their jewellery collection, most notably the Stuart Sapphire from the 17th century, a 104 carat sapphire which is still part of the British Crown Jewels to this day. Sapphire became a precious stone of endearment when Prince Albert handed a sapphire diamond brooch to his then-fiancé Victoria in 1840. Queen Victoria wore the brooch as her “something blue” on the wedding day and continued to wear it ever since. Its significant was confirmed when Queen Victoria listed the sapphire brooch as one of the heirlooms of the crown in her will. In 1981, Princess Diana carried on the tradition with her 14-diamond, 12-carat oval sapphire ring for her engagement with Prince Charles. The ring is now in the hand of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, who received the ring in 2010 from Prince William upon their engagement.
Lotus blossom: Padparadscha
Not all fancy sapphires are created equal, popularised by the trade in the recent years, natural fancy sapphires that bear a specific orange, salmon-pink hue are considered the rarest of all, the unique colour is a result of the chrome (pink/red) and iron (yellow), the later is known to cause colour fading in yellow sapphire. The colour instability also contributes to the rarity of Padparadscha with stable colouration. The Sinhalese term has not always been associated with the pastely fancy sapphire though, according to an article by the late gemmologist Robert Crowningshield, Padparadscha was first used to described corundum of deep orange to reddish yellow by Dr. Max Bauer in 1932.
List of Famous Sapphires
- Rockefeller Sapphire
- Napoléon’s sapphire diamond engagement ring for Joséphine
- Star of India
- Sapphire and Diamond Brooch by Cartier
- Sapphires Richelieu
- Stuart Sapphire
- Blue Belle of Asia