This gem is a variety of the corundum group, rubies being red and sapphires the other colors of this mineral. Sapphires exist in many hues of blue, white (also called leucosapphires), pink, orange, yellow, green, purple, and black. They also exist in tones of red.
Some change color when exposed to different light sources or are bicolored. Its name would come from Latin "Saphirus" and Greek "Sapheiros" which translates as blue. Other blue stones such as lapis lazuli were called under this name for centuries. Its name could also come from Hebrew "Sapir" meaning "neat" or "the most beautiful" depending on the translation.
On the Mohs scale of hardness they have a rating of 9, just like ruby. There are also star sapphires that have inclusions with 6 or 12 points due to asterism. It is part of the quartet of precious gems alongside diamonds, rubies and emeralds. To determine its value, the 4 C's are taken into account: color, clarity, cut and carat.
Due to the virtues of protection that have been attributed to it, it has been used for a long time in the elaboration of talismans and magical objects. For the ancient Egyptians it was a symbol of justice and truthfulness. The Persians believed that the pigmentation of the sky was due to the reflection of a gigantic sapphire on which the earth rests.
The Greeks already imported this gem around 480 B.C. and they called it "jewel of the Sun God" in honor of Apollo. It is said that Solomon's seal was set with a sapphire and this ring allowed him to control demons and spirits as well as giving him the ability to speak with animals.
In the 12th century it became the stone of predilection for fortune-tellers. In the Middle Ages it became an important stone for the cleric as it was linked to purity and divine and sacred powers. Priests used sapphires set in rings that they wore on the right hand because it was the hand with which they bless.
It was also sought after by the nobility for its beauty and because it was said that it could reveal treachery and fraud as well as protecting against plagues and black magic.
Gem of beliefs and peace of the soul, it represents an aid in the practice of meditation and a guide on the path of spirituality. It has been a symbol of sincerity, fidelity and truth in relationships since ancient times.
It is said that it dispels doubts while safeguarding from difficulties and negative influences by generating compassion and love towards others as it provides a feeling of security and fullness for those who possess it.
Depending on the intensity of its color, blue sapphires enhance different features. A light blue sapphire is conducive to communication by representing gentleness and affection, while a dark blue sapphire enhances spirituality, imagination and creativity.
Large sapphires are rare but some of the most famous ones are the Queen of Asia with 1.6 million carats (310 kg or around 683 lbs), the largest blue sapphire in the world which was revealed in December 2021, or the Star of Adam, the largest blue star sapphire in the world with 1404.49 carats (approximately 280 grams) which was found in 2016.
In July 2021 the largest star sapphire cluster in the world was unearthed, it is called Sapphire of Serendipity and it weighs more than 2.5 million carats (510 kilograms or over 1124 pounds). Masons who were digging a well found it by chance in the courtyard of a gem dealer's house. These 3 specimens come from Ratnapura (the "city of gems" in Sinhala) in Sri Lanka where almost all existing colors of sapphire have been found.
The most reputable sapphires were mined in the Zaskar Mountains in the Kashmir region, at an altitude of 5000 meters. These mines are deemed depleted nowadays. There are also registered deposits in Australia, Burma (Myanmar), Madagascar, Thailand, Brazil, the United States and several other countries around the world.