Sapphire is a precious gemstone that belongs to the corundum mineral family, which also includes ruby. It is one of the most popular gemstones in the world, prized for its vivid blue colour and remarkable durability. Sapphires are typically found in igneous rocks and alluvial deposits, with some of the most famous sources being found in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Myanmar, and Australia. Sapphire is the birthstone for the month of September and has a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, making it one of the hardest gemstones after diamond.
Sapphires have been treasured for their beauty and durability for thousands of years. In ancient times, they were believed to protect the wearer from harm and were worn as talismans by kings and queens. The Persians believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire and that its reflection gave the sky its blue colour. In medieval Europe, sapphires were thought to have healing powers and were used to treat a range of ailments. The British royal family has a long history of using sapphires in their jewellery, with some of the most famous examples being the engagement ring of Princess Diana, now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge, and the sapphire and diamond coronation necklace of Queen Elizabeth II.
Sapphire is a mineral made of aluminum oxide and typically has a hexagonal crystal structure. It has a refractive index of 1.76 to 1.77, which is higher than most other gemstones, giving it exceptional brilliance and sparkle. Sapphires can be found in a range of colours, including blue, pink, yellow, green, and purple, and can also be colourless or black. The presence of trace elements such as iron, titanium, and chromium can affect the colour of a sapphire.
While sapphires come in many different colours, blue is by far the most popular and well-known. Blue sapphires can range from pale, almost colourless stones to deep, rich shades of blue. The most valuable and sought-after blue sapphires have a vivid, intense colour that is evenly distributed throughout the stone called "Royal Blue". Orange-pink sapphire are one of the most sought after variety of sapphire, called "Padparadscha sapphire". Pink sapphires are also highly prized, especially those with a vivid, hot pink colour.
Most sapphires on the market have been treated in some way to enhance their colour or clarity. Heat treatment is the most common form of treatment, which involves heating the sapphire to different temperatures to enhance its colour, from 500 to 1800 degree celsius. Some sapphires are also treated with fracture filling, which may be oil, resin or filling any fractures or cavities within the stone with a glass-like substance to improve its clarity. Other treatments include diffusion, which involves adding trace elements to the surface of the stone to improve its colour, and irradiation, which uses radiation to change the colour of the stone.
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Sapphires are found in many countries around the world, but some of the most famous sources include Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Myanmar, and Australia. Sri Lanka has a long history of producing high-quality sapphires, especially those with a light to medium blue colour. Madagascar is known for producing sapphires with a range of colours, including pink, yellow, and green. Myanmar, also known as Burma, is famous for producing sapphires with a deep, intense blue colour. Australia is another important source of sapphires, with most of its production coming from the state of Queensland.
Synthetic sapphire are man-made sapphires that are produced in a laboratory setting using advanced technological processes. Sapphires can be produced synthetically using the flame fusion (Melt), the flux-melt process or the hydrothermal process. Synthetic sapphires have been produced since the early 1900s, and they are widely used in industrial applications such as watch crystals and laser components.
Sapphires are widely used in jewelry, particularly in rings, earrings, and necklaces. They are also used in watches and other decorative items. Due to their hardness and durability, Sapphires are ideal for everyday wear.