Ceylon Sapphire

General Information

Ceylon Blue Sapphires are one of the most beautiful and enduring gemstones, and have been popular for over 2500 years. Colours range from very deep, rich blues to elegant mid blues, and crisp ice blues. An extraordinary range of coloured sapphire comes from Sri Lanka as well; pink yellow, purple and a particularly rare pink/orange called Paparadscha. A good Ceylon sapphire will be transparent and sparkling, and the shade of blue will be dictated by personal preference; some people prefer lighter, some people prefer darker. With a hardness of 9 on Mohs scale, it is one of the hardest gemstones, and as such is suitable for engagement rings and for jewellery pieces designed for everyday wear. The colour blue is associated with the throat and communication, thus making a sapphire a perfect gift for those who speak or communicate for a living, like teachers, singers, or lecturers. By selecting the perfect sapphire, and in conjunction with the jeweler’s art, a unique and timeless piece of jewellery will be created.

Sapphire is the birthstone for September.

Even though Ceylon was renamed Sri Lanka in 1972, the gemstone and jewellery industries continue with the convention that a gemstone from Sri Lanka retains its traditional name, (hence) Ceylon Sapphire.

Sapphire is a word used for all colours of corundum except red (red corundum is ruby). Pure corundum is colourless, with the rainbow of coloured sapphire due to various trace elements within the crystal. When used on its own, the word sapphire is assumed to refer to the colour blue, so when referring to the other sapphire varieties the colour name is used as a descriptive i.e. pink sapphire, yellow sapphire, white sapphire, green sapphire or padparadscha sapphire.

The origin of the modern word sapphire is not completely certain. It has links with the Latin sapphirus; there is evidence to suggest that it is derived from the Sanskrit word sanipriya. The word originally referred to all opaque blue stones and in particular Lapis Lazuli.

Quality

As with any gemstone, sapphire quality varies from the very high to the very low.

Treatment

Heat – Almost all natural sapphires are heat treated to minimize microscopic inclusions and even out colour resulting in a brighter stone. Perhaps 95% or more of sapphires are treated in this way and so you will always assume the stone has been treated. Untreated stones that are also bright and clean are highly prized and always cost more than a heated stone of similar appearance.

Folklore

Most sapphire folklore speaks of blue sapphire rather than other sapphire colours because it was not known that they were related. Eyes and poisons feature prominently in sapphire folklore and myth, especially in medicinal cures and potions. Egyptians, ancient Hindus of India and various mystics mention sapphires in prescribed eye-elixirs and potions to cure disease or to remove foreign objects from the eyes.

Medieval writers asserted that gazing into a sapphire would protect the eye from all injury. It was believed that wearing a sapphire will bring one to the attention of the nobility, protect one from the dead, and free a person from enchantments or even prison. As technology progressed over the centuries it became possible to engrave images onto sapphires for added effectiveness. Sapphires have always been considered the Stone of Kings, and ever since the twelfth century, sapphires have been used for all ecclesiastical (church-related) jewellery, such as rings and seals.

Care

One of the great advantages of sapphire is its durability. It can be safely cleaned with any detergent and is suitable for ultrasonic cleaning. Sapphires with prominent inclusions are more likely to break if subjected to a sharp of heavy knock, however all sapphires should be treated with sensible care. Facet edges and surfaces will eventually be damaged after years of rough treatment. Also consider that a setting needs occasional maintenance to avoid the possibility of it loosing its grasp on your precious treasure.

Scientific Information

Chemical Composition     Al2O3 (Aluminium Oxide)

Crystal System                Trigonal

Refractive Index              1.762 - 1.770

Specific Gravity                3.95 - 4.10

Hardness                         9

Cleavage                         Poor

Fracture                           Conchoidal, uneven

Lustre                              Vitreous to subadamantine