Sapphires: The Stone of Nobles

Jul 18, 2017
Fine Sapphire Crystal, Sri Lanka. Natural sapphires like this one are judged on criteria like crystal shape, color, and the rarity of the location. Joe Budd Photo.

Since the ancient Greeks, Sapphires stones have symbolized social status and power. Sapphires are considered one of Earth’s precious stones for its rarity and beauty. Its brilliant blue color has been sought after by great civilizations around the world and continues to be one of the most popular gemstone quality minerals today.

The Sapphire: A Rare Beauty of Nature

Sapphire is a blue variety of corundum, and it is directly related to the Ruby. Like Ruby, it is made from crystalized aluminum oxide compounds. The only difference between a Sapphire and a Ruby is their color, which is developed from its impurities.

Most Sapphire specimens get their well-known blue color from trace amounts of iron and titanium in the crystal lattice. However, Sapphire stones can come in a spectrum of colors like pink, yellow, and green. These non-blue specimens are known as “Fancy Sapphires,” and they are much rarer to find in nature.

Sapphire Stones in Early History

Sapphire stones are only found in a few locations, including Cambodia, Burma, India, Kashmir, and Sri Lanka. Although there are few sources for mining Sapphire, the stones are referenced in many religious books and beliefs as symbols of truth, faithfulness, and nobility.

The Talmud & Mishnah of Orthodox Judaism describe the Ten Commandments of Moses as being inscribed in tablets of Sapphire. It is believed that Sapphire stones were chosen because they represented the throne of God and the color of Sapphire was “like the very heavens in its clarity.”[1]

The ancient Greeks believed that carrying Sapphire stones into Delphi amplified the wisdom of the questioner when consulting the Oracle at Apollo’s Shrine.[2] The Sapphire stones would clear their minds, allowing them to better understand the answers given.

The origin of Sapphire stones was of particular interest to the ancient Persians. The Persians believed Earth sat on top of a massive Sapphire pedestal whose blue color was reflected into the day’s sky.[3] The Sapphire stones found in the Earth were thought to be broken chips from the pedestal.[4]

Logan Sapphire Brooch, Smithsonian Institution The Logan Sapphire Brooch in the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution) - Chip Clark photo.

Famous Sapphire Stones

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History hosts one of the world’s largest faceted blue Sapphire – The Logan Sapphire. The gemstone was mined in Sri Lanka and weighs 423-carats, making it the heaviest mounted gemstone in the collection.[5]

While The Logan Sapphire is incredibly large for a gemstone, the title of heaviest stone goes to the recently discovered Star of Adam. The Star of Adam is a rare Star Sapphire weighing in at 1,404 carats.[6]

The Star Sapphire is a special variety of Sapphire stone that has an asterism in the shape of a six-pointed star-shaped that appears on its polished surface. The asterism comes from needle-like inclusions that intersect at varying angles. When light enters the stone in a certain angle the asterism becomes visible.

The Sapphire stands as one of the most sought after precious stones. The corundum makeup of the Sapphire can develop many unique colors, including the color Ruby. Yet, finding Sapphire specimens with deep shades of blue is especially rare, and it is one of the most referenced stones in history.


Want to see these rare stones and gemstones in person? Then checkout our expansive collection on our website. We’ve recently updated our galleries with many impressive specimens from around the world. You can find our latest collections here.

Also, don’t miss our listings for our rare rock and mineral shows. We’d love to meet with you and talk about the specimens in our collections!

[1] Ex. 14:10 NAB

[2] Diane M, Ancient Secrets and Modern Myths from the Stone Age to the Rock Age (Indiana: Greenwood Press, 2008), 167.

[3] Stephen V, The Great American Sapphire (Virginia: The University of Virginia, 1985), 48.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Logan Sapphire”. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

[6] Lin T. “World’s largest blue star sapphire”. CNN.