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The Sapphire Gemstone

The 'sapphire' precious gemstone is the third hardest mineral (after diamond and moissanite) which makes it ideal for use in jewellery. Sapphire is one of two varieties of the mineral corundum; the other is ruby. Significant sapphire deposits throughout history have been found in locations such as Eastern Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and China.

Types of Sapphires

There are many different types of sapphires. These range from the natural to the man made, and include:


  • Blue Sapphires: Perhaps the most common type of sapphire. Blue sapphires occur naturally, and are evaluated based upon the purity of their primary hue. The more vivid the colour of the sapphire, typically the more prized it is. Burmese and Ceylon sapphires are particularly renowned for their vibrant hues.
  • Fancy Sapphires: ‘Fancy’ is the name given to sapphires that occur naturally in a hue that is not the customary blue. Sapphires can appear in many fancy colours, including yellow, purple, orange and green. ‘Parti’ sapphires show two or more colours. However, sapphires cannot be red as this would be a ruby.
  • Padparadscha: This is the title of a special orangey pink sapphire. This translates to ‘lotus flower’ in Sinhalese, the language spoken in Sri Lanka. Initially, stones from Sri Lanka were the only ones labelled with this name.
  • Star Sapphire: Sapphires can exhibit a star like phenomenon which is known as asterism. Star sapphires contain intersecting needle-like inclusions following the underlying crystal structure that causes the appearance of a six-rayed ‘star’.
  • Synthetic: Synthetic sapphire crystals were first developed in 1902, by French chemist Auguste Verneuil. These remain popular, particularly in costume jewellery.


Sapphire Use

Sapphires are practical as well as beautiful, and so throughout time have been employed for many uses. Natural sapphires are commonly cut and polished into gemstones, which can then be crafted into stunning jewellery. Antique sapphire jewellery (such as antique sapphire rings) is typically of exceptional quality, due to the naturally hard wearing nature of the gemstone.

Sapphires have also been used in non-ornamental applications. Their remarkable hardness makes them suited for use in infrared optical components, high-durability windows, wristwatch crystals and movement bearings.

sapphire gemstone
antique sapphire jewellery
antique sapphire rings

Sapphire Significance

Sapphires have come to signify a variety of qualities for cultures all over the world. Western tradition places sapphire as the gemstone for the 45th wedding anniversary, whilst a sapphire jubilee occurs after 65 years.

Sapphire is also the birthstone for those born in September. Birthstone jewellery is a common (yet personal) gift and those born in September are lucky enough to be on the receiving end of sapphire jewellery.

Traditionally, sapphire is symbolic of nobility, truth, sincerity and faithfulness. It is also associated with royalty and romance. ‘Royal blue’ sapphire hues have adorned the robes of royalty and clergy members for centuries.

Famous Sapphires

Throughout history, sapphires have remained culturally significant. This is in part due to the fame that surrounds many of the world’s most popular sapphires. These include:


  • Princess Diana’s engagement ring: This blue sapphire engagement ring has inspired brides to be around the world for decades. Princess Diana’s ring consisted of a stunning central 12 carat oval Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds.
  • Star of India: This is one of the largest sapphires in the world. It weighs in at an astonishing 563.35 carats, and features a unique star shape that appears on both sides.
  • Stuart Sapphire: This piece of history is a sapphire that was acquired by the ancestors of Queen Elizabeth II in the 14th century. It is a cabochon-cut sapphire that weighs 104 carats. The Stuart sapphire is actually a part of the Crown Jewels.


Why Choose Antique Sapphires?

AC Silver offers an impressive range of sapphire jewellery. The diverse collection of sapphire jewellery contains fine examples from antique and vintage eras, including sapphire pieces with Art Deco and Retro designs and examples with more modern mid-twentieth century styles.

Antique sapphires would make a wonderful addition to any jewellery box. They are hard wearing and durable, and as such make an excellent investment for day to day wear. Additionally, the rainbow of hues they appear in means that there truly is a sapphire piece out there for everyone, no matter what your style.

As coloured gemstones for engagement rings continue to grow in popularity, there is no better time to invest in a sapphire ring. This is the perfect way to add some personality to an engagement ring; the pop of colour adds a twist to tradition whilst still remaining a timeless piece. Sapphire jewellery has charmed the world for centuries, and we have no doubt that they will remain enduringly popular for years to come.

Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.
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