3 Things

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Why is it blue things catch our attention and our hearts?  Could it be they remind us of the endless sky, the deep sea, the soulful eyes of our beloved?  Whatever the reasons blue objects stand out like no other.

Sapphires are blue precious gemstones, highly prized by man since around 800BC.  Their colors range from very pale blue to deep indigo, with a medium-deep cornflower blue being a highly prized shade.  Both naturally formed and man-made / created sapphires consist of transparent or translucent corundum, the tough and durable mineral aluminum oxide, Al2O3Sapphires are amongst the most highly prized gems in the world, symbolizing fidelity and the soul, they seem of royalty and romance.  Sapphire gemstones are mined in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Myanmar (Burma), India, Australia and in Montana, USA.

A beautiful gift suiting all special occasions, sapphire is the birthstone of September.

When choosing your perfect gemstone you should note the 4Cs; Carat, Color, Clarity and Cut.

They are weighed in carats, fifths of a gram, although to give a better impression their size is often given e.g. 8mm diameter.  Carat (ct) is different from Karat (k) used to describe the purity of gold.

Color gives value to gemstones by the purity of the hue, a medium depth of tone that is not too light nor dark and by a good color saturation.  Nearly all sapphires have had their color enhanced by a standard heat treatment (heating to ~3200°F).  Other less precious (and less valuable) blue gemstones include Tanzanite and Iolite.  It's possible to tell the difference between them by using density as the same size stones weight different amounts.  As with other gemstones the rarity of sapphires along with their durability and popularity due to their shining beauty give them their high value.  Light from electric bulbs differ in the tone of the white, a warmer more orangey light from incandescent bulbs and a whiter cooler bluer light from office fluorescent tubes (with a higher K value such as 5000K).  While rubies look best under warmer light sapphires shine their radiance best under cooler light.  Phenomenal gems react specially under good light.  Sapphires are a phenomenal gem and show stars when lit brilliantly.  Note that unlike true sapphire, Star Sapphires are a synthetic gem.

The name sapphire is derived from the Greek word for blue, sappheiros (σάπφειρος).  Other colors of corundum are also known as sapphire including colorless, gray, yellow, pale pink, orange, green, violet and brown, while red corundum gemstones are called rubies.

Sapphires can be graded for clarity on a similar scale to diamonds although it's not so sought after.  Gems often contain unique birthmarks, internal ones are called inclusions.  In descending order of value:  Flawless A perfect gem, Internally Flawless, VVS Very very slightly included, VS Very slightly included, S Slightly included, and I Included.

The desired cut of high-quality gems is one that presents an even color, exposing few inclusions and puts the majority of the gem on show when set in jewelry.  The standard shapes for gemstones to be cut to are Round Brilliant, Oval, Cabochon and Emerald, also Princess, Asscher, Marquis (Cat's Eye), Radiant, Pear, Heart and Cushion.  Check for the cutting quality and the symmetry of the cut of your sapphire.

Sources:  Gemological Institute of America (GIA.edu), Encyclopædia Britannica (Britannica.com), Blue Nile (BlueNile.com), Wikipedia (Wikipedia.org)

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