|Chemical formula:||Aluminium oxide (Al-2O3)|
|Color:||Various shades of blue, green, yellow and black|
|Mohs scale hardness:||9, the second hardest gem to diamonds|
|Christian apostle:||Saint Andrew|
|Hindu chakra:||Vishuddha – the fifth chakra representing the throat|
Origin of the Name
There are several theories as to the origin of the name. One theory suggests it is from the Greek “sappheiros” meaning “blue stone,” although it is widely believed not to refer to the same stone. Another theory suggests it is from the Sanskrit “sauriratna” in honor of the planet Saturn.
Sapphires are made of aluminium oxide, which is colorless in its pure form. Sapphires derive their color from trace elements of iron and titanium oxide. The amount of titanium in the aluminium oxide plays a key role in determining the blue color of sapphires. Royal blue sapphires are most desired and valuable.
Good quality blue sapphires are rare and very precious and therefore have many imitations. Natural blue stones with colors similar to sapphires include blue spinel, blue tourmaline, tanzanite, iolite and even glass is sometimes substituted for sapphires.
Sapphires and rubies are nearly identical in their chemical composition and crystal system. The sapphire’s crystal system inspires birefringence, and therefore requires great expertise in finding the correct polishing direction for the gem. Only the right polishing direction will yield a nice-colored stone.
Sapphires in Judaism
Sapphires are mentioned in the bible and one of the stones on the Hoshen breastplate, a ceremonial piece worn by the high priest of the ancient Israelites: “Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions—the work of a skilled craftsman. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen… Then mount four rows of precious stones on it… in the second row a turquoise, a sapphire [b] and an emerald” (Exodus 28:15-22).
We cannot know if the blue Hoshen stone really was the sapphire we know today. It is actually presumed to be lapis lazuli – a blue gem common to the area in ancient times. Lapis lazuli is softer than sapphires and easier to process. Pliny the Elder, a first century philosopher, described the “sapphire” as a stone resembling lapis lazuli – a blue stone with flakes of gold, i.e. – not the sapphire we know today.
According to the description of the flags of the tribes of Israel in the Talmud, which correspond with the colors of the Hoshen stones, sapphire represents the Tribe of Issachar.
According to the Midrash – the book of Rabbi Eliyahu HaCohen, of the 18th century, sapphires can heal the eyes, and are good for various aches and pains. Other bible notations of the sapphire appear in the books of Ezekiel, Job and Lamentations.
Blue sapphires have been adored throughout the centuries. The gem has been believed to have the ability to heal various inflictions and for removing harmful elements from the body. It has also been used as an antidote to harsh poisons.
The sapphire is considered the gemstone of the soul. Its blue color is reminiscent of the sky and represents the purity of the souls. Wearers are believed to be able to ward off jealousy, garner divined sympathy and broker peace between enemies.
Sapphires’ rarity, color and qualities have made in prominent among royal jewels. Sapphires can be seen the crowns, scepters and prestigious jewels of all royal houses.
Sapphires are mined in Australia, Myanmar, Brazil, Tanzania and other African nations.
The Logan Sapphire is a deep blue sapphire and, at 423 carats, it is the second largest blue sapphire in the world. The cushion-cut is set in a brooch surrounded by 20 round brilliant cut diamonds weighing 16 carats in total. The Logan Sapphire is named after Mrs. John Logan, who donated the gemstone to the Smithsonian Institution in 1960.
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