Sapphire, along with diamond, ruby and emerald, are currently the ‘big 4’ of gemstones. Sapphire serves as the backbone of the US colored stone industry, being the most popular colored stone sold at retail in the US market. To better understand the nuances surrounding the name sapphire, let’s begin with a quick education of minerology, specifically the mineral species corundum.
Sapphire and ruby are both varieties of corundum. Ruby is the red colored variety of corundum. When spoken alone without any modifier words, sapphire means the blue variety of corundum. In fact the name sapphire is derived from the Greek ‘sappheiros’ or Latin "sapphiru", both meaning the color blue. In folklore, history, art, and consumer awareness, sapphire has always been associated with the color blue. Its extraordinary color is the standard against which other blue gems are measured.
While just about everyone has heard of ruby and sapphire, there is a third category of corundum, known as ‘fancy sapphire’, which represents every other color of corundum. Depending on the trace element contained within its crystal structure, fancy sapphires can be found in violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and many intermediate hues. Fancy sapphires can even be gray, black, or brown. Often when talking about a specific fancy sapphire, the name sapphire is preceded by the color name, such as green sapphire, pink sapphire, orange sapphire, padparadscha sapphire (a mixture of orange and pink colors), etc.
There also is a fourth category of the mineral corundum known as phenomenal sapphires. This category refers to ‘star sapphires’ (any color except red, which is a star ruby) and ‘color change’ sapphires.
So, on the 100 East Fine Jewelry website, when we refer to a general category of all gemstones or all jewelry, we refer to sapphire or sapphire jewelry, we mean jewelry of every color of sapphire (blue and fancy colors) as well as those which possess phenomenal characteristics. However, when we discuss a specific gemstone or specific jewelry piece, we will use sapphire to mean the blue variety and spell out the specific type of fancy sapphire. Therefore a sapphire ring will be the blue sapphire ring, while a fancy colored sapphire ring will specify pink sapphire, orange sapphire, purple sapphire, etc ring.
Perfect sapphires are rarely found in nature, which means most are treated in some manner. Coming out of the ground, sapphire is routinely enhanced by traditional heating methods to improve both its clarity and color. 100 East Fine Jewelry along with other reputable dealers disclose any and all gemstone treatments to customers before purchase, so they can make an informed decision
We love to create jewelry featuring sapphires. It’s a relatively hard gemstone, with excellent toughness, traits which make it a great choice for rings and other jewelry subject to daily wear. While fancy sapphires are generally less available than blue, and some colors are scarce, especially in very small or very large sizes, they create a rainbow of jewelry options. We seek out sapphires with strong to vivid saturation, regardless of hue. In general, the more intense and uniform the color, the more interesting we find it for our designs.
Sapphire is also the September birthstone. To learn more about it, visit our Education and Resources page. There you can learn about gemstones, caring for your jewelry, cleaning fine jewelry and much more.