HISTORY OF SAPPHIRES:
Humanity’s love affair with sapphires goes back beyond the written annals of history. The term sapphire was derived from its latin word “sapphirus” which in turn had been derived from the greek term “sappheiros”, meaning blue. Interestingly, the term also exists in Hebrew as “Sappir”. In ancient Iran, it was also called “Sani-prijam” while in Sanskrit it is termed as “Shani-priya”, meaning love for Saturn. Thus it proves that the sapphire gemstone had and continues to have wide spread ties across many cultural and ethnic groups across the world.
SAPPHIRE MYTHS AND FOLKLORE:
Sapphires has fascinated our ancestors from practically every corner of the world since the 800 BC. Ancient Persians appreciated sapphire immensely as they thought that the blue sky was a reflection of the Earth being settled on a giant sapphire! The Greeks believed that sapphires could reveal the secret of the oracles,that venomous snakes were rendered harmless when put in proximity with a sapphire vessel and could protect their owners from envy and harm. Some folklore also state that Moses’s ten commandments were written on a sapphire tablet.
Sapphires have been an essential part of both western and oriental symbolism, given their geographical accessibility across the world. Traditionally, sapphires stand for nobility, sincerity, truth and faithfulness and perhaps this is why it had been exclusive to royalty and clergymen. The ancient Sinhalese believed the sapphire to be a protective talisman, bringing good luck, joy and protection to travellers. In Hindu and Jain belief systems, the blue sapphire and yellow sapphire are two of the important components of the navaratnas.
In a more modern context, sapphire is the official birthstone for september as mandated by the Jewelers of America. When worn by a Taurus, Pisces, Virgo or Saggitarius, a sapphire pendant, ear-ring or ring protects the wearer from negativity and brings structure to his life. Traditionally, a sapphire is a gift for the 5th or 45th wedding anniversary.
SAPPHIRE TREATMENT HISTORY:
Being one of the first gemstones ever discovered and valued, sapphires have had a long history of treatment. There are some accounts of heat treatment of corundum as early as 1240 AD!
Sapphire was one of the very first gemstones to be flux grown in a laboratory in 1902. Given that time line, the age of the sapphire is not a correct indicator of its natural nature. While natural sapphires of an intense blue color,i.e., the royal blue sapphire or the cornflower blue sapphire makes for the ideal purchase, they are unbelievably rare and expensive. Most natural sapphires are of a pale blue color that is heat treated to intensify the color as well as remove any inclusions.
Since sapphires can be subjected to a wide range of treatments and enhancements, wholesale sapphires as well as individual sapphires should only be purchased from reputable dealers who are willing to disclose these particulars fully to the buyer. Head over to our article on “treatment of sapphires” to learn more.
HISTORY’S MOST FAMOUS SAPPHIRES:
SAPPHIRE ENGAGEMENT RINGS:
In the history of engagement rings, one royal blue sapphire ring virtually changed the course of history. While sapphire gemstone had adorned royalties for ages, traditionally a diamond was supposed to mark the hallmark of matrimony. All that changed when in 1981, on their engagement , Prince Charles presented to Lady Diana 12-carat oval blue sapphire, cut into facets, and surrounded by fourteen solitaire diamonds.
When Princess Diana chose her ring, a huge scandal erupted as she had picked up a pret-a -porter ring instead of a tailor made one, as was customary. Colloquially it was also referred to as the “commoner’s ring”. Despite the initial criticism, Princess Diana quickly became a style icon across the world and in subsequence, her sapphire engagement ring style became the most sought after engagement ring design for over a decade. When Prince William announced his engagement to Catherine in 2010 and presented her with his mother’s iconic engagement ring, the sale of sapphire engagement rings sky-rocletted once more, firmly establishing it as a firm competitor for diamonds. Combined with the many reasons as to “what makes sapphires valuable” , we advise jewelers to invest in generous batches of loose sapphires, especially loose blue sapphires, around the wedding season.
While sapphires are traditionally associated with the blue color, we are now entering a new era in the history of sapphires where other colors like the Padparadscha sapphires and the color changing sapphires might be valued at par with the iconic blue sapphire.