Thursday, September 17, 2009

September Gemstone - Sapphire

Sapphires are members of the corundum family of minerals. They exist in nearly every color except red, as red corundum is called ruby.
One of the hardest minerals, sapphires are durable gemstones that have been in demand since ancient times.

© Catherine Marche - 18K white gold ring with sapphires and diamonds

Sapphire Hardness
• 9 on the Mohs' scale; compare to diamonds at 10 and turquoise at 5-6.

Sapphire Colors
• Cornflower blue is the most popular sapphire color, but all shades of blue are found
• Sapphires exist in many other colors, including yellow, colorless white, black, white, orange, pink, purple and brown
• A variety of orangish-pink sapphire is called padparadsha, which means "lotus flower."
Sapphire Treatments
• Heat treatment is commonly used to deepen sapphire color and improve clarity
Where Sapphires Are Found
• Quality sapphires are found in Ceylon, Thailand, Australia, India, Burma, Africa, and Brazil.

Unusual Sapphires
• Some sapphires are cut into cabochons (smooth domes) and produce a star with six rays that stretch across the sapphire's surface.
Synthetic Sapphires
• Like many other popular gemstones, sapphires can be created in a laboratory. Some synthetic sapphires are difficult to distinguish from gemstones formed in nature.

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