The beautiful sapphire, ranging in colour from celestial blue to violet, has long been associated with the planet Venus. The violet stones were chosen to represent the colour that is also associated with the number three and with old age. Friday, the day dedicated to Venus, is represented by the sapphire. It is a stone of the spring months and has been assigned to both Taurus and Gemini in differing zodiacal systems.
Traditionally, sapphire symbolises nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. It has decorated the robes of royalty and clergy members for centuries. Its extraordinary colour is the standard against which other blue gems—from topaz to Tanzanite—are measured. For centuries, sapphire has been associated with royalty and romance. The association was reinforced in 1981, when Britain’s Prince Charles gave a blue sapphire engagement ring to Lady Diana Spencer. Until her death in 1997, Princess Di, as she was known, charmed and captivated the world. Her sapphire ring helped link modern events with history and fairy tales.
One of the more common uses of sapphire was as an antidote to poison. The stone was thought to act by increasing the strength and overall health of the owner, thereby warding off illness, and nullifying the effects of poisons. The sapphire was also thought to aid in healing. By the middle ages, this healing power was ascribed especially for the eyes. It is interesting that this notion may have come about because of an ancient Egyptian remedy. This ancient eyewash contained a powdered form of what George Kunz thought to be an oxide of copper sometimes called lapis Armenus. This stone later became confused with lapis lazuli, which by medieval times had become confused with sapphire.
Even more highly prized than regular sapphire, the star sapphire was believed to be of highest value for talismanic purposes. Sir Richard Francis Burton traveled the Orient with a large star sapphire, also known as an asteria. He found it brought him much luck, as the fame of the stone he carried preceded him in his travels, bringing him prompt service and extra favors from those he visited.
Such was the belief in the power of the stone, that simply viewing the talisman was considered good luck, and Sir Burton would reward those who displayed such courteousness by allowing them to view his talisman.
Their value depends on their size, colour and transparency. With stones of very fine quality, these are, however, not the only main criteria, the origin of the gem also playing a major role. Neither is the colour itself necessarily a function of the geographical origin of a sapphire, which explains the great differences in price between the various qualities. The most valuable are genuine Kashmir stones. Burmese sapphires are valued almost as highly, and then come the sapphires from Ceylon.
The possibility of the gemstone's having undergone some treatment or other is also a factor in determining the price, since gemstones which can be guaranteed untreated are becoming more and more sought-after in this age of gemstone cosmetics. And if the stone selected then also happens to be a genuine, certificated Kashmir or Burmese, the price will probably reflect the enthusiasm of the true gemstone lover. Today, Sapphire is combined with other gemstones, notably diamond - to produce beautiful pieces.
It is not often that daring pioneers discover gemstones on a scale such as was the case on Madagascar a few years ago, when a gemstone deposit covering an area of several miles was found in the south-east of the island. Since then, not only have there been enough blue sapphires in the trade, but also some splendid pink and yellow sapphires of great beauty and transparency.
Meanwhile, experts in Tanzania have also found initial evidence of two large-scale gemstone deposits in the form of some good, if not very large sapphire crystals coloured blue, green, yellow and orange. And the third country to register new finds recently was Brazil, where sapphires ranging from blue to purple and pink have been discovered. So lovers of the sapphire need not worry: there will, in future, be enough of these 'heavenly' gems with the fine colour spectrum. Top-quality sapphires, however, remain extremely rare in all the gemstone mines of the world.
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