Revered by the Egyptians, marketed from distant Sri Lanka and used to enhance the greatest royal jewels, sapphire is undoubtedly a gem of excellence which stands out for its delicate color, the best-known spectrum of which is blue. Particularly elegant, the “stone of the Popes” is essential in the world of fine jewelry. We find it on very fine vintage jewelry: pompadour ring, fully set bracelets, Tank ring , precious pendants, bangles or of course earrings.

Because sapphire is a very ancient gem, it is important to know its origins and history. Castafiore, specialist in vintage and second-hand jewelry, invites you to discover sapphire.

Marguerite ring in platinum, sapphire and diamond - Castafiore

The history and origins of sapphire

Sapphire is a corundum gem that can come in pink, green, yellow, white, orange and blue. The most famous variety of color is of course blue, while the purplish-pink shade is the most sought after and the rarest. If we mainly talk about blue sapphire, it is because of the very etymology of the word: the name sapphire is in fact a Latin derivative of the Greek “sappheiros” which simply means “blue”.

But the origin of the word sapphire could also come from its geographical location. Originally, this precious stone comes from Sri Lanka: the word sapphire comes from the term “sanipriya”, used in the country to designate a dark precious stone associated with the planet Saturn. Sapphire therefore comes to us from Sri Lanka where sedimentary rocks formed hundreds of millions of years ago form an ideal terrain for the development of precious stones which, over the centuries, will cross the world and cultures.

Already in the 5th century BC, the Greeks and Romans used sapphire from Sri Lanka. From century to century, sapphire travels and is the subject of numerous myths and legends. Biblical writings in particular mention sapphire on several occasions: it is said that it is this stone which adorns the throne of God or that it was used to raise the foundations of the celestial Jerusalem. The Persians, for their part, considered that the Earth rested on an immense sapphire whose colors made it possible to create the blue of the sky. In ancient Egypt, sapphire is a stone commonly associated with truth and justice: the divinity Maat is represented with a sapphire feather on her head, a symbol of clarity and truth.

In history, sapphire occupies an important place in Asian countries. But the stone has of course traveled and become, in the West, a gem of excellence, notably used to compose exceptional royal treasures. Even today, sapphire is a dream, we appreciate its elegance and its timeless character.

General characteristics of sapphire

Today, sapphire can be mined in Burma, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, India and Thailand. There are of course different colors of sapphires , but also different levels of purity .

The colour

If sapphire is commonly associated with the color blue, the spectrum of sapphire is in truth much broader. In the different countries where sapphire is extracted, we can find blue, yellow, pink, green, purple, orange and even transparent stones. Most often, a blue sapphire comes in variations between green and purple. Pink sapphire is characterized by a high concentration of chromium. Certain colors can also be associated with specific countries of extraction: the orange-pink sapphire also called Padaparadscha comes exclusively from Sri Lanka, its name means “color of the lotus” and it is the most sought-after color of sapphire and the rarest. In jewelry, there is also a lot of demand for Ceylon sapphires, which we recognize thanks to their blue-gray hue ranging from dark purple to purple blue.

The purity

Sapphire is formed by molten magma which cools slowly: during this phase, aluminum and oxygen molecules combine to create what we call corundums. Corundum is at the origin of the creation of many rocks including sapphire and ruby. Initially, corundum is transparent, however several types of metals can infiltrate it: for example, the presence of iron can make sapphire yellow while titanium makes it blue.

The purity of a sapphire is of course an important criterion in determining its quality. The clarity of each sapphire can therefore vary depending on the inclusions that can be found there. As it grows, the stone can be marked by very small cracks which, over time, can create small spots of color. The purity of a sapphire thus depends on the visibility of the inclusions: also, a high quality sapphire will have no inclusions visible to the naked eye. Although some may be visible, they must not prevent light from circulating there.

The cost of sapphire

To assess the price of a sapphire , gemologists rely on the 4C rule: carat, purity, color, size . As we have seen, there are more or less rare colors and sapphires with no inclusion visible to the naked eye. But size also matters: the more complex the lapidary's work, the more the cost of the precious stone increases. The price of sapphire is also evaluated by carat: the reference measurement is 1 carat per 0.20 gram. Also, a sapphire between 2 and 5 carats can be considered to be of very good quality.

Note that genuine sapphires receive what is called a colored stone report. This report established by a laboratory provides details of the following information: type of stone, variety, shape and size, weight, measurements, color, transparency and characteristics. This list is most often accompanied by a photo of the sapphire.

Discover our selection of sapphire rings on the Castafiore website.