A member of the corundum family, sapphire is one of the four precious stones. It owes its famous blue color to the iron and titanium in its composition. Out of its range of shades, the most highly sought sapphires are undoubtedly royal blue, Kashmir blue and cornflower blue. The latter is among one of the finest specimens in the world; its mines in Kashmir in India are nowadays exhausted. Sapphires present a variety of inclusions, such as chevrons, negative crystals, straight growth zoning, fingerprints, rutile needles and crystalline inclusions.
Colored sapphires also exist. Among yellow, green, pink or brown examples, the most sought-after is the Padparadscha sapphire. Orange with a hint of salmon pink, it is extremely rare, a factor that is reflected in its price.
All sapphires are highly appreciated in fine jewelry. A blue sapphire is often chosen for an engagement ring. Less expensive and easy to set, colored sapphires offer an interesting palette of shades and can be turned into reasonably priced items of jewelry.
Historically, kings and high-ranking churchmen wore sets of jewels and diadems crafted from sapphires and diamonds. The Queen of England’s necklaces are renowned the world over. Her crown comprises several exceptional sapphires.
This precious stone comes primarily from Myanmar, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. Australia also produces some of lesser quality. Madagascar is home to colored sapphire mines. Just after diamond and at the same level as ruby, sapphire presents a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale.