The Royal Stone
What sparkles like the Heart of the Ocean, glows like the Hope Diamond, and fits perfectly on true love’s ring finger?
A blue sapphire engagement ring, of course! This stone has long captivated humans with its beauty and deep, velvety color. In ancient Greece and Rome, they were the gems of royalty. Believed to protect wearers from envy and harm, this stone was a favorite amongst those who could afford it. This gem obtained religious significance in the Middle Ages, when the clergy wore sapphires to symbolize heaven. They were believed to be associated with blessings from heaven amongst the lay folk.
The sapphire has been worn by royalty time and time again, symbolizing good fortune, purity and wisdom. Princess Diana and Princess Anne both wore sapphire engagement rings, firmly planting them as an icon of beauty.
This gemstone has numerous positive associations, including sincerity and faithfulness, making it an ideal choice as an engagement ring. The jewel is also believed to impart healing and calming properties. Sapphire jewellery is a traditional wedding anniversary gift to celebrate a couple’s 45th year of marriage.
Blue Sapphire Qualities
Although most people think of the sapphire as blue, it is actually one of three gem varieties of corundrum. The other two are ruby, which is red, and padparadscha, a rarer pinkish orange sapphire. They can also be colorless or gray, amongst other colors
Like other gemstones, the quality of a sapphire is determined by the four C’s: color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. Another criterion is considered in a sapphire: its geographic origin. Sapphires can be found in Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Africa, to name a few of the more common areas.
Blue sapphires are found in varying primary and secondary hues, along with differing shades and levels of vividness. The primary hue is blue, while secondary hues range from purple and violet to green. The quality of a sapphire is dictated by the purity of its primary hue. While purple and violet hues contribute to the beauty of the gem, green is considered a detractor. The most precious sapphires consist of up to 15% violet or purple hues. However, a sapphire with any green hue is considered low quality.
In terms of saturation levels, a more vivid sapphire is more valuable than a less vivid one. Less vivid counterparts have a gray modifier or mask that hinders the hues of the stone.
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The clarity of a gem refers to the amount of fissures, or inclusions on the stone. Although magnification can be used to inspect the sapphire, this practice is usually reserved for the diamond. The blue sapphire’s clarity grading is determined by the inclusions to the naked eye. Like the emerald, some inclusions can in fact enhance the value and beauty of the sapphire. Generally speaking, though fewer and smaller inclusions are better. Larger cracks can decrease durability.
Sapphires are considered very hard, scoring a 9 on the Mohs scale. It ranks third in hardness, behind the diamond at 10 and moissanite at 9.25. Note, though, that the numbers on the scale are based upon ranking of minerals’ hardness, and are not actual hardness. For instance, a mineral can be four times as hard as another, with only 2 grade differences, while another mineral can be twice as hard, with only 1 grade difference.
A blue sapphire with no inclusions to the naked eye is considered flawless. Also, since it is a very hard stone, this makes it durable for wear, particularly in rings.
It is important that a sapphire is cut as to display its brilliance, color and luster. Due to its hard nature, sapphires are normally cut into facets, consisting of the flatter crown at the top and pointed pavilion below. While diamonds are cut in order to maximize brilliance, sapphires are primarily cut to maximize color. A diamond will be cut with a larger “face” size, with a large crown and smaller pavilion. A sapphire, on the other hand, will usually be cut with smaller crowns and larger pavilions to bring out the color.
Lighter colored gems will usually be cut deeper to add dimension and intensity, while deeper hued ones are cut shallower to allow more light to reflect within the stone, brightening its color. When inspecting the sapphire, see that the edges are even and symmetrical. There should not be any dull spots when moving around the ring.
Compared to a diamond, sapphires are denser. Thus, a one carat sapphire is smaller in size than a one carat diamond. Sapphires are often measured in millimeters to counteract this difference in density. The standard size is 6 mm. For comparison, a 6 mm diamond is around 0.80 carat weight, while a 6 mm sapphire is around 1.3 carat weight. As you can see, there is quite a difference in weight between the two jewels, even though they are the same size.
When shopping for a blue sapphire engagement ring, it is better to shop by size rather than weight. Jewelry settings are usually offered in standard sizes to fit specific stone sizes.
It is common and accepted practice to heat sapphires to enhance their color. Under high heat
for several hours, the gem becomes bluer in color and loses its “silk”. At high temperatures, it will eventually lose all silk and become clear under magnification. Yogo sapphires, a variety found only in a region on Montana, sometimes do not requires treatment because they have deep and uniform cornflower blue coloring. Generally, they are free of inclusions, making them notable for being untreated.
Diffusion treatments can be used to add impurities for color enhancement. For instance, beryllium is diffused into sapphires at high heat. Disclosure of treatment that affects the valuation of the gem is required as per United States Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
Caring for Your Sapphire Engagement Ring
Sapphires are very durable, which makes it a beautiful and suitable ring for wear. They are resistant to the effects of heat, light and everyday chemicals. However, some acids should be kept away from your stone, including boric acid powder. Fractured stones can be damaged by mild acids. It is a good idea to remove your ring when working with your hands.
To clean, warm and soapy water is an excellent option. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe. Fractured stones, though, are more fragile and should be cleaned with a damp cloth.
With its rich color and brilliance, it is no wonder that a sapphire engagement ring has become a natural choice.
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