Most famous for its gorgeous deep blue colours, Sapphires are considered one of the most popular and valuable stones on the gemstone market. Sapphires are member of the corundum family and they come in a variety of different colours. These different coloured varieties are called "Fancy Sapphires". The rich blue colour in the most popular variety occurs due to the presence of titanium and iron within its makeup. Sapphires are known for being one of the hardest minerals on earth. The cornflower blue variety, also known as the Kashmir Sapphire, occurs in India and is most sought after. Sapphires usually occur as crystals that from within igneous rock and they can be found in alluvial deposits. Due to the extremely rare occurrence of natural transparent blue Sapphires, heat treatment is common practice within the gemstone industry. Heating the sapphires in furnaces with temperatures between 1700 and 1800 degrees Celsius for several hours leads to the stones becoming a richer shade of blue and sometimes loosing their inclusions. Sapphires are also considered Pleochroic, which means that when viewed from different angles, different shades of blue can be seen. "Colour zoning" can also occur and this can be seen with stones that have lighter and darker colours within the same stone. Colour change Sapphires have been found which have the ability to change from a deep blue to a purple colour depending on the different lights it is displayed in. Sapphires can often contain minor inclusions of Rutile needles which when present, can decrease the transparency of the stone. When cut into cabochons, these stones can display an effect called "Asterism" which is shown in the form of a 6 pointed, or in extremely rare cases 12 pointed star being reflected from the stone when light hits it. These are called "Star Sapphires". Cat's Eye Sapphires can also be found and this is caused by the same Rutile inclusions. Superb Yellow and Green Sapphires can be found in Australia as well as Sri Lanka. There are varieties that can be Pink, Orange, Yellow and Violet.
Worn by royalty throughout the ages, Sapphire has been hugely popular through history and venerated amongst all nations and cultures. The rulers of Ancient Persia believed that the sky was painted blue by the reflection of Sapphires. Considered a holy stone to the Catholic Church, ancient lore held that the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written were made out of sapphire. During the Middle Ages, Sapphires were believed to cure eye disease and prevent illness. The ancients believed that star sapphires when used as a talisman have the ability to protect travelers and seekers. A famous Sapphire called "The Star Of India" is a huge 536-carat stone and was discovered in Sri Lanka about 300 years ago. Financier and gemstone enthusiast J.P Morgan donated it to the Museum of Natural History but later; the infamous burglar Jack Murphy stole the stone. Luckily it was recovered two months later.
Due to the variety of colours as well as different shades of blue, choosing your Sapphire can be a very subjective process. Making sure the stone is well cut is a huge factor and the Colour, Clarity and Brightness also come into account when choosing your stone. Natural Sapphires that have a Royal blue color, are transparent and have minimal inclusions are the most sought after. Sapphires can sometimes have a greenish or purplish hue and this is considered less valuable than the pure blue variety. The origin of the Sapphire can also affect the price. Sapphires mined in Kashmir, Mogok, Burma and Ceylon are sometimes considered more valuable than Sapphires mined anywhere else.
Indian Name: Shani(Saturn) or Neelam
Color: Often Blue but varies