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All About Sapphires: My Current Favorite Gem

Karin Jacobson gem news sapphires

It’s been a nonstop parade of sapphires in my studio lately! I’m big fan of this gem family, and am just thrilled that so many of my clients are feeling the love, too. I try not to play favorites when it comes to raw materials, but must admit that I find sapphires to be fascinating and somewhat underrated. Ready for some trivia?

Fun facts about sapphires

Did you know that sapphires come in almost every color? We all know about the beautiful blues, but sapphires also naturally occur in shades of yellow, pink, purple, green, white, black, brown, orange, and red.

Speaking of red, ruby is technically a sapphire as well. Both rubies and sapphires are composed of the same mineral, which is called corundum. Ruby is simply the name for a particular range of red-to-pink corundum. There are also “red sapphires”, but those tend to be a slightly rust-colored red. For fire-engine reds and pretty pinks, ruby is the way to go!

Sapphires are among the hardest materials on earth. Although they are not quite as hard as diamonds—which get a 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness, while sapphires clock in at a 9—they have excellent “toughness,” a quality not captured by the scale. This characteristic means that they don’t have a tendency to cleave or break, which can be an issue for some stones, even when they are fairly "hard". This makes sapphires extremely durable and excellent for everyday wear! (Think engagement ring.)

In fact, sapphires were once considered the traditional choice for engagement rings. Before diamonds became the gem of choice for betrothed couples, it was all sapphires all the time. The notion that only a clear stone would do is a fairly recent one, believe it or not. I love color so much, I hope sapphires make a comeback for wedding jewelry. My own engagement ring features a gorgeous fair-trade sapphire from Malawi!

Sapphires come from all over the world and can be sourced ethically. They’re mined in countries across the globe, including Sri Lanka, Malawi, Thailand, Cambodia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Australia, and India. I get a lot of the sapphires I use in my own designs from my fair trade gem source, Columbia Gem House, who get them mostly from Malawi, Australia, and Montana.

Did you know that sapphires are even mined in the United States? There are mines in Montana that produce absolutely top quality sapphires in some lovely colors. I love using Montana sapphires in my jewelry!

Are you a fan of birthstone jewelry?  Sapphires are September's birthstone!

Sapphires in action

Here are some of my recent designs featuring sapphires of all shapes, sizes, and colors:

All of the above rings are custom designs featuring sapphires. 
Clockwise from top left: white sapphires set in 14K white gold; yellow, white, and green sapphires set in 18K yellow gold; purple and blue Yogo sapphires from Montana set in palladium; pink sapphires set in 18K yellow gold; light blue sapphire from Montana set in palladium; and golden-brown Umba sapphire set in 18K yellow gold.
On the left are my Plum Blossom Earrings with opals and pink sapphires; and on the right, one of a kind Origami Fan earrings with faceted Montana sapphires at the top, rough Montana sapphires in the center and opal dangles.

I’ve also got dozens of sapphire-centric designs in my shop right now. If you’re intrigued by this gem, do look around … and if you’d rather work with me on a custom design, by all means reach out! I’d love to make your sapphire dreams come true.


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