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Sapphire Facts

Updated on September 28, 2010

Learn about Sapphires

Sapphires are among the most beautiful and valuable gemstones. Most people think of sapphires as blue stones, but they actually are found in wide variety of colors. Some sapphires are translucent stones, while others have star markings. This lens is intended to tell you a bit more about this interesting gemstone.

Photo: Jlhdalg, Wikipedia

Sapphire Facts

  • Sapphire is a member of the corundum family of minerals.
  • Sapphire comes from the Greek word for blue, "sappheiros" or from the Persian word "safir", meaning "beloved of Saturn".
  • Although normally thought of as blue, sapphires come in almost any color including yellow, green, white, colorless, pink, orange, brown, and purple. The don't come in red, because red corundum is called ruby. Sapphires and rubies are different colors of the same gem.
  • Sapphires are 9.0 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making them the second hardest natural mineral. In addition to being very hard, sapphires are also tough, making them highly durable gemstones.
  • Sapphire is a traditional birthstone for the month of September. It is also one of the birth stones for the Zodiac signs of Pisces, Taurus, Virgo, and Sagittarius.
  • Sapphires are a traditional gift for the 5th, 23rd and 45th wedding anniversaries. A star sapphire is a traditional 65th wedding anniversary gift.
  • Sapphire is found in Australia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Kampuchea, Kenya, and Tanzania.
  • Colorless and pale blue sapphires may be heated to high temperatures to give them an intense blue color. Heating also removes small inclusions, so it can improve clarity.
  • The first lab-created sapphire was made in 1902. Synthetic sapphires can be difficult to distinguish from natural sapphires, even by gemologists.
  • One of the most expensive of the rare gemstones is the padparadscha sapphire, a pink-orange corundum mainly found in Sri Lanka.
  • Some sapphires have inclusions of tiny rutile needles. Light bouncing off the needles produces a catseye or star effect in some sapphires. Sapphires can have 6 pointed, or less commonly, 12 pointed stars.

Star of India (Daniel Torres, Jr.)

Star of India (Daniel Torres, Jr.)
Star of India (Daniel Torres, Jr.)

Padparadscha Sapphire (Alextryan, Wikipedia)

Padparadscha Sapphire (Alextryan, Wikipedia)
Padparadscha Sapphire (Alextryan, Wikipedia)

Questions or comments about sapphires or about this lens?

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    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 6 years ago

      I agree with the comment below. Red and pink are rubies, but they are actually the same stone. To show the facet it is quite acceptable. The color is just a result of the impurities in the stones.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      When sapphires are red, they are acually rubys. The red picture above is accually a ruby not a sapphire