Back to Basics: Blue Sapphires

I can’t stop thinking about this pair of sapphire and diamond earrings that once belonged to Empress Josephine (the first wife of Napoleon). After posting a photo on Facebook I realized that I am not the only one who fell hard for these beauties! Her magnificent Ceylon sapphire and diamond earrings are the stuff dreams are made of. But this should come as no surprise considering that blue sapphires are one of the most popular gemstones in the world and the U.S. is the number one consumer of this velvety blue beauty.

Ceylon sapphire and diamond earrings once belonging to Empress Josephine and now on display at the Louvre.

Ceylon sapphire and diamond earrings once belonging to Empress Josephine and now on display at the Louvre.

Sapphires belong to the Corundum family and come in almost every color of the rainbow. The word sapphire typically indicates that the stone is blue. A blue sapphire can be called just a sapphire, but a sapphire of any other color can not, the color must be indicated (i.e. yellow sapphire).

This cabochon sapphire once belonged to the Iranian Imperial Family (photo courtesy of Boucheron)

This cabochon sapphire once belonged to the Iranian Imperial Family (photo courtesy of Boucheron)

The biggest factor in determining price and value for sapphires is color. Iron and titanium are the two trace elements that create the color blue in sapphires, without them the sapphire would be colorless. It doesn’t require much to achieve the color, but the more iron and titanium the stone possesses, the darker the blue. The perfect blue sapphire is velvet blue to violet blue in color, medium to dark tone, with strong color saturation that is not too dark.

Like diamonds, sapphires are found and mined all over the world. Places like Thailand, Cambodia, Kashmir, Myanmar, Australia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and even Montana. But the finest quality sapphires come from Kashmir, Sri Lanka (also called Ceylon), and Myanmar (also called Burma). The sapphire in Kate Middleton's engagement ring is from Sri Lanka and referred to as a Ceylon sapphire.

Kate Middleton's Ceylon sapphire engagement ring made by royal jeweler Garrard.

Kate Middleton's Ceylon sapphire engagement ring made by royal jeweler Garrard.

This Tiffany & Co three stone sapphire and diamond ring dates back to 1910 and features a natural Kashmir Sapphire. Considered the most beautiful, Kashmir sapphires are the undisputed Queen of sapphires. Most of the Kashmir sapphires that exist now were mined between 1881 and 1887 and the limited amount of Kashmir sapphires available in the world makes them rare, desirable, and incredibly valuable.

Tiffany & Co Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring circa 1910 (photo courtesy of Pat Saling New York)

Tiffany & Co Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring circa 1910 (photo courtesy of Pat Saling New York)

I had the pleasure of working with this beautiful Tiffany & Co ring almost 7 years ago and I will never forget the velvety blue color of the stone. Some pieces stay with you forever and this is surely one of them!