One of the four precious gemstones, sapphire has long been coveted by many cultures & has adorned royalty for ages. Today, sapphire is the September birthstone and the designated gemstone of the 5th and 45th anniversaries. This versatile stone comes in a rainbow of colors and can be found in numerous unique cuts. The excellent durability of this incredible stone makes it an ideal candidate for a stunning and unique ring! Learn why sapphire is quickly growing in popularity as a center stone choice in jewelry!
History & Modern Uses
Sapphires are believed to have been discovered as far back as the 7th century BC! The name “sapphire” likely originated from the ancient Greek word sappheiros, which probably referred to both sapphires and lapis lazuli. It is believed that Sri Lanka acted as the primary source for sapphires during these ancient times, with the stones being distributed all across Europe, Africa, & Asia via the Silk Road. This distribution leads the gems to land in the hands of royalty all across Europe. Sapphires were believed to protect from harm, making them a popular gem among rulers and royal members. Even today, the royal family houses a collection including many large sapphires. The famous and common deep blue color of many sapphires has also long been associated with the heavens. Important Christian religious figures such as priests and cardinals have worn sapphires to show their devotion to God, and the stone is one of the few gemstones mentioned in the Bible. Sapphires have also held historical importance in Judaism, Buddhism, and other religions, astrology, alchemy, and ancient medical purposes.
One of the most famous engagement rings in the world belonged to the late Princess Diana. Prince Charles proposed to Princess "Di" with the ring in 1981. This gorgeous ring with a 12ct Ceylon blue sapphire and a 6 carats diamond halo now belongs to Kate Middleton but carries on the legacy and meaning Princess Diana left behind. Princess Diana was known for being unconventional and breaking norms, just like she did when she picked out her ring from the royal jeweler's catalog rather than having her ring design commissioned. Many rings have been made that were inspired by Princess Diana's, and we are excited to be working on our own twist of the Princess Diana ring! In addition, we've now released some of our classic designs with blue Chatham sapphire center stones as an homage to Lady Di's engagement ring! Our "Ophelia" design has a stunning 8x6mm Chatham blue sapphire center stone and diamond accents.
Sapphires are also used for industrial purposes because of their durability. They are used in lasers, electronics, abrasives such as grinders and polishers, parts for watches, etc. You may even own a watch with a face made from sapphire crystal glass! Rolex and Apple are among the brands that use sapphire crystals in their watch faces.
Description & Sourcing
Sapphires are made of corundum, a mineral made of aluminum and oxygen. The crystalline structure of sapphires is very dense and allows for the formation of large crystals. These gemstones are formed over millions of years by heat, pressure, and the mixture of minerals in the Earth. Volcanoes and other tectonic shifts in the Earth are alleged to create the environment for sapphire to form. Some sapphires will get impurities of trace minerals during formation, which causes the gemstones to come in a variety of colors:
- Brown, etc.
These gorgeous sapphires from the Staghead Mine offer a glimpse into the variety of colors sapphires can come in!
This beautiful 2.01ct unheated sapphire in a fancy shield step-cut exhibits a gorgeous color change between purple and peach! Sapphires come in every color except red! Why not red? Gem-quality specimens of red corundum are instead called a ruby! Sapphires can also come in bicolored, parti-colored (multi-colored), or color-changing varieties! The sapphire pictured below is the "Araxie" stone from the Staghead Mine.
Many sapphires undergo a heat-treatment process that helps enhance color and improve clarity. Heat treatment dissolves titanium oxide rutile inclusions which many natural sapphires have. These inclusions can cause cloudiness or even dull coloring. Treatment often drastically increases the vividness and value of a sapphire! However, while the purest of blues was the desired color for sapphires in the past, there is a significant demand for natural unheated sapphires! Unheated stones often have more muted yet very unique colors. Still, it is rare to find sapphires that have not been heat-treated, as this treatment is considered a standard practice in the jewelry industry. Using heat to enhance stones is accepted as long as this enhancement is disclosed. At Staghead Designs, we offer both heated and unheated stones. Either version can be sourced upon request! Sapphires listed in the Staghead Mine will disclose if they are heated in the product description.
Some sapphires referred to as "star sapphires" show asterism: a unique and rare effect caused by the "silk," or needle-like inclusions in the stone. These inclusions cause the stone to create an individual star-like reflection. Many of the world's most famous sapphires, like the whopping 563.35ct "Star of India," possess asterism. Star sapphires can be sourced upon request.
Sapphires are mined all over the world! Places like Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Montana (USA), Australia, Afghanistan, and Thailand are well-known sources for sapphires. Sapphires are typically formed in areas of volcanic activity and are often transported by water to where they can be found in alluvial (river) deposits.
The sapphires we use at Staghead Designs are ethical and conflict-free! Our sapphires typically come from Montana, Madagascar, Australia, and Sri Lanka. We especially love working with Montana sapphires from the Rock Creek Mine for their locality and alluring colors! The sapphires we use are mined following strict environmental regulations, a concern we take seriously. The mines of Montana are well-known for ethical and sustainable mining practices. In addition, Montana produces some of the most beautiful fancy-colored sapphires in the world! We enjoy being able to offer a wide variety of color options rather than just royal blue like many other jewelers. This 4.87ct blue-green heated sapphire, called "Cordelia," hails from the Rock Creek Mine of Montana and is a great example of the beauty of a natural Montana sapphire!
Looking for a lab-grown stone? We can also source Chatham or lab-grown sapphires with a luxurious blue color! Lab-grown gemstones avoid concerns involved with sustainability or ethics and are typically more cost-effective. A lab-grown sapphire is still a real sapphire - it has the same chemical properties and physical appearance as natural sapphire but is created in a sped-up process. Lab-grown gems are less likely to have inclusions and imperfections, and the color is gorgeous! This "Adira" design engagement ring features a beautiful emerald cut Chatham lab-grown sapphire and is an excellent example of the color that can be achieved in lab-grown specimens.
Because sapphire is a very hard gemstone, it can withstand being faceted into cuts that many other gemstones cannot endure. Sapphires are a common gemstone used by independent lapidarists to create one-of-a-kind signature cuts! We've had the honor of working with many independent gem cutters, including Anna Gilbert, Larry Woods, Jeff Hapeman, and more! This stunning unheated sapphire we call "Olivia" has a blend of blue, green, and yellow colors. "Olivia" hailed from Queensland, Australia, and was cut by female lapidarist Anna Gilbert into a fancy step-cut called a baguette remix.
Care & Cleaning
Sapphire ranks a 9 (out of 10) on the Moh's hardness scale, making it an excellent choice for everyday wear! Diamond and moissanite are the only natural materials harder than sapphire. Therefore, sapphire is very scratch-resistant and has exceptional longevity if cared for adequately!
Cleaning with warm soapy water and a soft brush or cloth is always the safest way to clean your jewelry. Ultrasonic cleaners are usually safe for sapphire rings, but caution should always be used when using extreme heat.
Be sure to store sapphire jewelry away from other jewelry. Because of its toughness, sapphire can scratch other jewelry it is stored with. Diamond jewelry is able to scratch sapphire, so be sure to keep diamond and sapphire pieces separate.
While sapphire is a very durable choice for a gemstone, it's always a good idea to take special care of your jewelry to ensure longevity. Remove any jewelry before participating in activities that pose a risk to your hands or ring:
- Manual labor, household chores, etc.
- Use of chemicals including lotions, hand sanitizer, etc.
- Gripping things with force (bike handlebars, suitcase, etc.)
- Showering and getting ready
- Going to bed
- Any other activities that would expose the jewelry to chemicals, moisture, rubbing, etc.
This is not an exhaustive care guide for our jewelry. To view our full Care Guidelines, click here.
Choosing or Designing a Sapphire Ring
At Staghead Designs, we love working with sapphires to create incredible pieces of jewelry! Because of the wide variety of colors and cuts of sapphires, the design possibilities are endless!
We have many sapphire rings in our collection of custom handcrafted engagement rings, and sapphires can be used in just about every design we offer! Browse our ring collections here.
Browse the Staghead Mine to see our collections of hand-selected awe-inspiring gemstones, including beautiful sapphires of various cuts and colors! Once you purchase a stone, our designers will work with you to create a one-of-a-kind ring around the stone.
Want to start from scratch on your dream sapphire ring? Start designing your own by filling out the form here!