Why is Sapphire the most popular gem in the world? After all, it's simply crystallized aluminum and oxygen (aluminum oxide), usually with a dash of some other mineral to give it color.
Maybe it's so popular because it's so hard, and wears well in jewelry. The only gem harder is Diamond.
Or maybe its popularity is due to sheer brilliance. Sapphire is a bright gem. It returns a lot of light to the eye. White (colorless) Sapphire is used as a Diamond substitute.
Could it be popular because of its catchy scientific name… corundum? No, that's definately not it.
Since Sapphire is the September birthstone, maybe a lot of people are born in September.
Maybe it's the amazing range of colors that Sapphire comes in. It comes in every color except red. As you know, red corundum is called Ruby.
No, Sapphire is the most popular colored gem in the world because of one outstanding characteristic… sheer beauty.
Sapphire is found in a number of locations around the world. Many of the ancient Sapphire producers are still going strong… countries such as Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Burma (Myanmar), Thailand (Siam), Pakistan, and India.
Within the last few hundred years the United States (Montana), Brazil, Australia, and several African countries including Madagascar, Malawi, and Tanzania began adding to the world's supply of beautiful Sapphires.
Click here to visit the AZGem Sapphire page and learn more about these great gems.
We have a nice selection of Sapphires, and not all of them are featured on the web page. If you would like to ask about a size, shape, or color that you desire, just fire off an e-mail to me.
Where did my gem come from?
Like people, most gems from the same region favor each other. Like turned-up noses or red hair, Sapphires from a certain region tend to have the same trace minerals to give them similar color, and the same inclusions to give them character.
Traditionally gem dealers have catagorized gems by these similarities, and labeled them with location names.
That way, when dealers in separate parts of the world were making a deal, they could communicate using these names. Gem dealers all over the world know what typical Brazilian Emerald looks like.
Where the gems actually originated wasn't important, what the gem looked like was all important.
All these names bring to mind gems of specific, and very desirable colors.
No matter where a gem was mined, if it looked like a Ceylon Sapphire, that was the descriptive name applied to that gem. The intent wasn't to fool the other dealer about where the gem was mined, but to bring a certain image to mind.
More recently, consumers have started asking for gems by these descriptive names.
Because of the premium prices associated with these highly desirable gems, simply having the appearance of a stone from a certain location was no longer acceptable.
That gemstone must truly be from the named location.
In response to this new need, gem science has developed techniques and the knowledge to identify the geographic origin of many gems, sometimes down to the very mine a gem came from.
Now dealers have to say things like… "It's a parcel of Montana Sapphires that look like Kashmir goods."
Next month, lets talk about Ruby, the red corundum.