Sapphires have been a coveted and sought-after type of gemstone for thousands of years, but where are they most commonly found?
Sapphires can be found all over the world, but the majority of the finest blue sapphires are mined in Sri Lanka. Since 2016, Madagascar has also been a prominent location for sapphire mining, and other popular locations include Montana, Australia, and Tanzania.
Read on to learn more about sapphires, how they form, and why they’re so important in the world of jewelry.
The Symbolism of a Sapphire
Sapphires have been appreciated by humans for thousands of years, with ancient civilizations effectively worshipping them, in some scenarios. It’s said that the Persians believed that the Earth was perched atop a pedestal made entirely from sapphires.
In Hindu teachings, sapphires are connected to the planet Saturn, and it’s believed that wearing a sapphire can bring you the power of the planet. There’s an old Italian superstition that claims sapphires protect against sadness and various health conditions.
Regardless of what these cultures believed, or continue to believe, there’s something inherently remarkable about fine sapphires. They boast incredible colors, they’re immensely durable, and, when cut in the right way, they’re stunning to look at.
These reasons clearly highlight why sapphires are considered one of the ‘top four’ gemstones in the world, alongside diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. They’re versatile stones that are resistant to most forms of damage, making them perfect for jewelry.
It’s thought that the superstition surrounding a sapphire isn’t always good, with some believers claiming that a sapphire can bring untold bad luck to a person. It’s said that if the sapphire doesn’t suit a person but they continue to wear it, they’re inviting chaos into their lives.
It might seem a little bizarre that a harmless mineral could cause such an impact, but that’s just what some people choose to believe.
However, these rules can ebb and flow depending on the color of the sapphire itself, with many of these beliefs being related to blue sapphires. In actual fact, sapphires can occur in a wide range of colors, from orange to yellow, and from purple to green.
Although, if a sapphire forms with red coloration, then it’s known as a ruby – a different gemstone with almost the same chemical composition.
A Whole World Of Gemstones
While sapphires can be found anywhere in the world, there are a few locations that provide a huge majority of the world’s sapphire trade. For example, most fine blue sapphires will have been, or are, mined in Sri Lanka.
However, since 2016, there has been something of a ‘sapphire rush’ in Madagascar, with huge deposits of sapphires being found on the African island. Although, it doesn’t end there, as blue sapphires can be found in Montana, Australia, Brazil, or Thailand, to name a few places.
Regardless of where sapphire is found, it’ll boast the same chemical composition as any other sapphire out there. What differs is the color, and certain locations yield sapphires in specific colors, such as the typical blue gemstones that come out of South East Asia.
The abundance of sapphires and the huge variety of locations they can be found in mean they’re not a hard gemstone to come by. Like diamonds, sapphires have more uses than just those found in the jewelry industry, and this availability means they’re an affordable option for some other verticals.
For example, sapphire is often used to protect expensive watches, being cut as the face of the watch and shielding the mechanisms against damage. There’s only one thing that can scratch a sapphire, and that’s a diamond, so it makes for a fantastic barrier.
That being said, there are plenty of super-expensive and luxurious sapphires that exist today; they’re not all affordable, industrial examples.
At the top of the pile sits the Blue Belle of Asia, a remarkable and unique deep-blue sapphire that sold at an auction in 2014 for $17 million. It’s often said that gram-for-gram, there are few things on Earth as valuable as gemstones.
Another incredible example is the Royal Blue, a loose blue sapphire that was auctioned off for more than $7 million in 2015. It boasted a ‘highly pigmented’ blue coloration that was simply stunning to look at.
Both of these gemstones were taken from South East Asia, with the Royal Blue coming out of Kashmir. It just goes to show that that region is the most popular site for the finest blue sapphires on Earth.