Many people don’t know that rubies and sapphires belong to the same gem family, which is called corundum.
It’s All in the Family
Fun Fact; the source of the name sapphire is the Greek “Saphiros” which means blue. When they figured out that ruby was a corundum they gave it its own name from the latin Rubeus which means red.
So Many Sapphire Colors
Nowadays “sapphire” is the term used to describe every color of corundum other than red. Red corundum is always referred to as “Ruby.”
Once all the other colors of corundums were discovered and gained popularity it was decided to use the word sapphire with the color in front of it for each color of corundum.
So when you ask for a yellow sapphire you’re really saying, “may I have a yellow blue?” I love that little bit of jewelry trivia.
Corundums come in all different colors, ranging from yellow, orange, pink, and red, to violet, purple, and blue.
Chemistry Effects the Color Tones in Corundum/Sapphire
Chemically speaking, sapphire and ruby are both aluminum oxide. It’s the trace elements that give them their diverse colors.
For instance, chrome produces pink colors in sapphire; vanadium produces violet; and iron and titanium produce blue.
Sapphires use Names of Their Origins, too
Rubies and sapphires can also be categorized by their origin. Ceylon sapphires come from Ceylon (even though the country is now known as called Sri Lanka).
Burmese stones originate from…you guessed it: Burma, now called Myanmar. At one time importing gems from Myanmar was illegal due to human rights abuses.
On October 7th, 2016, President Obama signed an Executive Order, effectively removing all sanctions on the importation of gemstones from Myanmar. It is now legal to import all gemstones, including ruby and jadeite, from Myanmar.
Are There Sapphire and Rubies born in the USA? You betcha
While Rubies and Sapphires from Sri Lanka and Myanmar often appeal to those with an exotic nature, the Vortex mine in Montana, is a great American source of Sapphires, which it produces using green mining techniques.
These little beauties, referred to as “Yogo Sapphires,” have come across my desk many times.
Corundums are Hard…and Valuable
The hardness of a gemstone is a very misunderstood property. The word “hardness” in gemology differs considerably from its everyday usage. The scientific definition of hardness in gemstones refers to its ability to resist scratching, and nothing more.
On the Mohs scale (gemstone hardness scale), Corundum has a hardness of 9, second only to diamond with a hardness of 10. Because rubies and sapphires are so hard and resistant to scratching, they make great choices for all types of jewelry exposed to everyday wear.
This unique wearability factor, combined with their rarity and brilliant colors make rubies and sapphires some of the most valuable gemstones.
Calla says …
There is a rainbow of Corundum waiting for you. Ready to bring some color into your life?
Your Personal Jeweler,