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A Guide to Sapphire Gemstones

Posted on September 15 2017

Image GIA education - sapphire post

(image credit to

Its the birthstone of September, one of the top three gemstones, alongside Ruby and Emerald and categorised as one of the hardest types of gemstone under a diamond. The Sapphire, part of the Corundum family are known for their deep, rich, blue hue but unknown to some are also available in a whole spectrum of colours, bar one colour - red. 
The Corundum family, also includes the Ruby but the widest array of its colour chart and intrigue lies in “fancy sapphires.” Violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and all colours in-between are just some of the options these mesmerizing stones come in, some can also exhibit the phenomenon known as color change. This natural occurrence can be seen when viewing the sapphire from under daylight tp under ultraviolet light, generally the change is from blue to purple. Some stones can even be brown, black or grey. 


Cushion cut colour change sapphire platinum solitaire engagement ring
 (Recent London Rocks bespoke commission of a striking 2.55ct, colour change Sapphire in a simple twist platinum mount)
padparadscha sapphire and natural australian sapphire
(Brilliant round padparadscha sapphire, pear cut natural australian sapphire)
Colours and their origins
Sapphires originate from many places all over the globe such as, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Myanmar(Burma), Australia, Madagascar, Montana, Thailand, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Vietnam, Laos and Kashmir. Some of these areas produce a mix of colours and qualities and some have connotations with rarer types of Sapphire such as the padparascha. The more commonly seen blue colour of Sapphires is due to Titanium being present in the formation of the mineral, however the padparascha known for its distinctive peachy, pink hue, is created by the presence of Beryllium. These stones are usually found in Sri Lanka, as well as Madagascar and Tanzania. Some experts insist that true padparadschas can come only from Sri Lanka, which, for centuries, was the only source of this coveted stone.
Sapphire inclusions. Sapphire under the microscope - gemstone characteristics
(images courtsey
Sapphires characteristics

Sapphires, as per many other gemstones, as well as diamonds, often contain natural blemishes within the stone, known as inclusions. Different gemstones are prone to varying types of inclusions, and each of these characteristics give each stone their own individual identity - a natural fingerprint that will never be identical in any two stones. 


Sapphires are prone to tiny slender needles of rutile, known as silk. As shown in the images above, although these blemishes can devalue a stone if too prominent, when viewed under the micro-scope they create a beautiful kaleidoscope of colour and texture. A true reflection of the fascinating structures that the earth can create in the correct conditions.


 When these silk needles form in large quantities they actually create an effect named 'asterism' - more commonly known, once polished as a 'Star Sapphire'. These can be highly prized and exhibit six rays on the surface of the stone. Generally star sapphire come in a cabochon cut rather than faceted as the ray effect is lost.  


Sapphires are all 'pleochroic', displaying a lighter and more intense color when viewed at different angles. A sapphire may be blue when viewed at one angle, and purple at a different angle.

Cushion cut ceylon sapphire
Romantic and royal 
The distinctive royal blue gemstone was most famously put on the map when Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, with now Kate Middleton's iconic cushion cut, halo sapphire engagement ring. 
Royal jewellery, Lady diana sapphire engagement ring
 (12ct Ceylon blue sapphire with a diamond halo set in 18ct white gold)
Other stunning celebrity Sapphires have also been in the spotlight, as seen on Jessica Biel, Penelope Cruz, Liz Hurley and Victoria Beckham.
Celebrity sapphire engagement rings
The Sapphire is also the gemstone associated with 5th and the 45th wedding anniversary's! 
 London Rocks Jewellery bespoke sapphire engagement rings

 At London Rocks we have had the opportunity to work with a range of beautiful Sapphires in various colours and cuts. From Oval grey sapphires with green sapphire shoulders, to classic blues, burst of pinks and classic greens, each stone has its own story. 


If you are interested in viewing a range of coloured Sapphires or if you have narrowed it down a certain colour and cut, do not hesitate to contact one of our knowledgeable team and book an appointment. We can source all types of stones to fit a range budgets.  



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