– September Birthstone –
What’s not to love about these exquisite gems? Commonly known to be blue, sapphires actually come in a variety of colors; they can be colorless, yellow, green, orange, black, purple, pink and everything in between. The most sought after and valuable colors are pure velvety blue or orange-pink (known as Padparadscha).
At our mine in Aappaluttoq, Greenland, we are lucky to find a wide variety of pink sapphires, ranging from stunning intense hot to icy pink, as well as gems in shades of blue, black, gray and purple – these we call our ‘Northern Lights’.
The Journey to the Surface
The name sapphire comes from the Greek word “sappheiros” or the Latin word “saphirus”, both of which mean blue. These gems are a variety of the mineral corundum, with traces of different other elements such as iron, titanium, chromium, vanadium or magnesium which give these stunning stones their color.
Rubies and sapphires surprisingly share the same chemical composition. Their difference is given only by the trace element, chromium, from which they get their color differentiation.
Natural sapphires are incredibly old, forming deep in the Earth’s crust over millions of years, constantly under immense pressure and intense temperatures. Our pink gems from Greenland are believed to be some of the oldest gems on earth, having been buried in the rock formation of the island for nearly 3 billion years. These precious gems measure a 9 out of 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, being the third hardest mineral after diamonds and moissanite.
Deposits of various colors of sapphire can be found on almost all continents in the world, including the United States (Montana) and most recently in Greenland. Pink sapphire can be found in India, Sri Lanka, various parts of East Africa and Madagascar, Southeast Asia, and Australia.
The vast majority of sapphires have inclusions, even if not visible to the naked eye. Gem Labs are able to positively identify our pink sapphires as Greenlandic, based on the type of inclusions, and unique fingerprint found in our gems.
History and Lore
Over the centuries, people have attributed transcendent powers to sapphires, and have associated these gems with wisdom, virtue, good fortune, holiness, protection, faithfulness, and sincerity. More specifically, pink sapphires have closely been linked to love and affection.
Throughout time, these gemstones have been known as a prized and valuable piece of earth’s history, being the preferred gem for royalty and the aristocracy who believed it could protect them from evil and harm. During the Middle Ages, the clergy started associating blue sapphires with the heavens, and attributed magical and spiritual powers to these gems.
Today sapphires are mostly associated with royalty and romance.
The earliest accounts of sapphire engagement rings date back to Ancient Rome. Pink sapphires are sought after today for engagement rings, as a great alternative to pink diamonds, and diamonds in general. Perhaps the most famous and recognizable sapphire engagement ring belongs to Kate Middleton, previously given to Lady Diana Spencer by Prince Charles in 1981.
Queen Elizabeth II is well known for her stunning brooches, one of them a huge pink sapphire floral design. Precious pink gemstones combined with diamonds were also Princess Grace’s favorites. These timeless styles have inspired jewelry designers around the world.
When it comes to blue sapphires, some exquisite examples have been found throughout the years. The Stuart Sapphire, The Star of Bombay, The Rockefeller Sapphire, The Queen of Romania Sapphire and the sapphire and diamond sautoir by Bulgari, which was owned by the elegant Elizabeth Taylor.