Sapphire Ultimate Guide: History, Meaning, Symbolism and Value

Merit is a spirited writer having the time of her life. She loves to collect cute bracelets…

You’ve probably heard about sapphires being the September birthstone, but have you ever wondered what its true origins and history are?

How did this spectacular gemstone become one of the most precious stones in the world, and what’s so special about it? 

If you’re curious about sapphires, we’ve got you. In this article, we’ll discuss all the necessary details about the sapphire gemstone: its meaning, history, value, and modern-day use.

What is a sapphire? 

Sapphires have been one of the most prized gemstones in the world for centuries. They’ve been sought after and cherished by royalty, in different cultures worldwide, along with other precious stones like rubies, emeralds, and diamonds.

Sapphire derives from the Latin word “saphirus”, which means blue.

Like many other gemstones, sapphires are rocks with a rare combination of elements that give them their beauty and durability.

Sapphire is a variety of a mineral called corundum (aluminum oxide). Corundum is one of the minerals that produces crystals used for gemstones. Some corundum crystals are colorless, but when mixed with other minerals, they transform into colored crystals like blue sapphires or rubies. 

💡 Did You Know? Sapphires also exist as orange, green, pink, and white gems, but blue is the most common. 

How are sapphires formed? 

Sapphires take millions of years to form beneath the earth’s crust. 

During volcanic processes, igneous or metamorphic rocks endure tremendous heat and pressure, and the corundum in their structures melts. Once the corundum melts, it slowly seeps into cracks between the rocks, and as its molten form cools, it turns into colorless crystals. 

However, when tiny amounts of transition metals mix with corundum as it cools, different colors of crystals are formed. For example, titanium turns colorless corundum into blue crystals, which are sapphires, while chromium creates red crystals called rubies. 

Who discovered the sapphire gemstone? 

Sapphires have been used for thousands of years. However, it’s pretty hard to trace when exactly they were first discovered. 

According to popular belief, the ten commandments were written on tablets of sapphire stone, although some historians now dispute this. Sapphire gemstones were also used by the Romans and Persians from as far back as 800 BC and possibly earlier. They were also quite popular in the Middle Ages. 

The oldest sapphire deposit is in Sri Lanka, which has some of the finest quality gemstones in the world. Most historical and archaeological evidence of sapphire’s existence is also in Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon. 

What do sapphires symbolize?

Sapphires have significant meaning to different cultures and people. For instance, the ancient Persians believed the reflection of sapphires painted the sky blue, and in some cultures, sapphires represented the heavens. 

Greeks wore the stone when they wanted to contact the oracle because they believed it helped guide them to understand the oracle’s pronouncements. 

Buddhists and Hindus often used the gemstone for spiritual purposes because they thought it gave spiritual enlightenment. 

There have been beliefs that sapphires can influence spirits, ward off the evil eye, cure poisoning, and make peace with enemies. Many royalties used sapphires because they believed the gems attracted wealth and protected the wearer from envy and harm from enemies. 

This precious gemstone became a symbol of royal love after Prince Charles gave a sapphire to Princess Diana in 1981 as an engagement ring. 

Kate Middleton wearing a sapphire engagement ring
Princess Diana’s sapphire ring, now worn by Duchess Kate Middleton


Sapphires also represent virtues like nobility, wisdom, repentance, and justice. 

What is sapphire in the Bible? 

Sapphire gemstones are mentioned a few times in the Bible, associated with God’s throne or representatives. 

They are described as precious stones and associated with diamonds and emeralds. The writer of the book of Exodus recorded them as one of the twelve stones in the breastplate of Aaron. 

In the same book, God’s throne or the pavement under his feet is described as made of sapphire.   

Is sapphire better than ruby?

Sapphires and rubies come from the same mineral and have the same chemical composition, so they’re practically the same in every aspect except color. 

However, natural rubies are rarer than sapphires and more expensive, making them more attractive to buyers. 

Which sapphire colors exist? 

Sapphires exist in a range of colors. They can be any color in the rainbow except red. Some popular shades of sapphires include:


Pear Cut Pink Sapphire Engagement Ring

Pink sapphires have colors ranging from light pink to dark pink or fuschia. They are created when corundum is mixed with minimal amounts of chromium, not enough to make it a ruby. Rubies sometimes come in shades of dark pink, which creates confusion about the two stones. 

💡 Take Note: Because they have similar origins, there’s no clear distinction (besides color intensity) between a dark pink sapphire and a ruby. 

After blue, pink is probably the most popular color of sapphire. Prices of pink sapphires range from $200 to $20,000 per carat, depending on the size, caratage, and color.  


Yellow Sapphire Hand Silver Ring

Yellow sapphire gemstones are formed when small amounts of iron seep into corundum. They can also be created when sapphire stones are exposed to nuclear radiation. 

Yellow sapphires are not very popular, but are often used as alternatives to yellow diamonds. These inexpensive gemstones cost between $200 to $1000 per carat. 

💡 Learn more about yellow gemstones


Luna Oval Cut White Sapphire Ring

White sapphires are colorless corundum. They don’t possess a single trace mineral in their composition. As a result, they often appear as transparent as clear diamonds. 

These sapphires are incredibly rare, but their resemblance to diamonds gives them considerable fame. A white sapphire’s price greatly varies and heavily depends on its quality. You can find one for as low as $70 per carat or as high as $3000 per carat.

How much is a sapphire gemstone worth?

The price of a sapphire is determined by its quality. Low-quality sapphires are cheaper than high-quality ones and are often more available. Sapphire prices can range from as low as $25 to $11,000 per carat. The average price range for high-quality sapphires is from $800 to $2000 per carat. 

Where can I sell my sapphire stone?

If you’re looking to trade your gemstone for cash, there are several options you can try. The popular ones are auctions, private buyers, or pawn shops. 

  • Auctions: You can sell your sapphire on online auction sites like eBay, but the process might be longer. Auctions usually take a while before they sell out. 
  • Pawn shops: Pawn shops are convenient and may be faster, but they are notorious for buying things cheaper than they’re worth. So if you want to get your sapphire’s worth, you need to try somewhere else. 
  • Private buyers: Private buyers may be your best option because you’ll often get to sell your sapphire for what it’s worth. However, it may take some time to find a good buyer and complete negotiations after an appraisal. 

Other places you could sell your sapphire include Craigslist, online jewelry websites, or your local jeweler. 

💡 Remember: If you decide to sell to a private buyer, you must research them thoroughly. Read their reviews and, if possible, visit their location.

How to Identify a Real Sapphire Gemstone

Over the years, synthetic and fake gemstones have been created to meet the increasing demand for gemstones and provide cheaper alternatives. Fake gemstones are often created from glass or other materials. 

In comparison, synthetic gemstones are often lab-grown and very similar to real gemstones. So if you want to buy a real sapphire, you need to be able to differentiate them from synthetic or fake sapphires. You must also differentiate them from look-alike gems like spinel, blue topaz, aquamarine, and tanzanite.

Here are a few things you can try to identify a real sapphire:        

  • Look for imperfections or inclusions:  Real sapphires all have slight flaws or inclusions that stand out. These flaws are cracks, fractures, or other blemishes in the stone. Look out for them when testing your sapphire. Use a 10x magnifying glass or loupe to check for any impurities or flaws in the stone while holding it against the light. Sapphires without inclusions are often synthetic or glass imitations.
  • Do the fog test: Fog up your sapphire by breathing on it. Then, calculate how long it takes for the fog to clear up. The fog on real sapphires will clear up within a few seconds. Synthetic sapphires will take longer to clear up. You can also check for air bubbles. Fake sapphires created from glass often have air bubbles remaining in them after they are manufactured. 
  • Reflection test: Turn off all the lights in the room and shine a flashlight on the surface of the sapphire. Real sapphires will only reflect the color of the stone: blue. Synthetic sapphires may reflect other colors of the spectrum. 
  • Do the scratch test: If you scrape two natural sapphires against each other, neither will leave a scratch on the other. Natural sapphires are scratch-resistant with a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, so an object with a lower hardness won’t scratch them easily. If you see a scratch on your sapphire, it’s probably not real. 
  • Visit a gemologist: Gemologists are gemstone experts. They’re your best bet for confirming your sapphire’s authenticity. They’ll examine the gemstone with various tools to determine what type of gem it is.

How to Care for Sapphire Jewelry 

Here’s how you can care for your sapphire jewelry: 

  1. Keep them separate from other jewelry. Although sapphires may not break or chip easily, they can scratch your other jewelry items. And if you have diamonds in your possession, keep them away from your sapphires. Diamonds are much harder than them and can easily scratch their surface.
  1. Clean the sapphire with warm soapy water and a brush. Avoid using harsh detergents or solvents. Also, while cleaning, be mindful of the setting around the stone. Some metals used for setting don’t do very well with abrasive soaps or chemicals. 
  1. Don’t subject your jewelry to extreme temperature changes. So store your jewelry in a cool, dry place, and take them off if you need to expose your hands to harsh temperatures.
  1. Get your sapphire jewelry insured – especially if it’s real. The best type of insurance is specialized jewelry insurance because it’s specific to the piece of jewelry you want to cover. Also, it covers your jewelry for more incidents than other types of insurance, like loss, theft, and mysterious disappearance. 
  1. Keep your sapphire away from acidic substances. Whether it’s a mild acid like lemon juice or a stronger type like boric acid, it can scratch the surface of your sapphire, leaving it looking dull.  

The Royal Jewel

The sapphire is a rare and precious gem representing beauty and resilience. Its rich history and unique characteristics make it one of the most prized gemstones in the world. 

If you’re thinking of getting one, you’re on the right track. Sapphire is one of the most valuable pieces of jewelry you’ll find. Be sure to care for yours properly to get your money’s worth out of the wear.

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