Sapphire is a precious gemstone that occurs as a transparent, blue variety of the mineral corundum. Although the term sapphire is often applied to gem quality varieties of a corundum of all other colors, the true sapphire is deep blue, the best tint being a corn-flower blue called Kashmir blue. Colorless precious corundum is called white sapphire; there are also yellow or golden and pink sapphires. The various colors in corundum are caused by small amounts of impurities, such as chromium, iron or titanium, in the aluminum oxide of which the mineral is essentially composed.

Excellent sapphires occur in alluvial deposits of sand and gravel in Ceylon. Some Ceylon sapphires exhibit asterism when cut cabochon, that is in convex form and not faceted, and are highly valued star sapphires. Other important sources of the stones are Thailand, India, Afghanistan, China, the Ural Mountains, Russia, and Queensland, Australia. In the United States sapphires are found in corundum deposits of Macon County, North Carolina and near Helena, Montana. Sapphires are used, as are rubies, as jewels in watches and as hard bearings in scientific apparatus. Synthetic sapphires are produced in a manner similar to that used for synthetic rubies.

Sapphires are made in an apparatus resembling an oxyhydrogen torch. The flame is directed into a fireclay support inside an insulated chamber. The oxygen gas carries finely powdered pure aluminum oxide into the flame, and the powder fuses into droplets, forming a cylindrical boule or matrix on the support. The size of the resulting sapphire is controlled by varying the gas flow, temperature and amount of powder. Boules weighing up to 200 carats can be produced by this technique. Perfect rubies and sapphires as large as 50 carats have been cut from such a boule.

Magic and Myth

Stimulating the throat and third eye, sapphire enhances the intellect and expands psychic ability. It brings peace and calm. A guardian of love, it promotes fidelity between lovers, and can strengthen friendship relationships as well. It can be used in wealth magics and helps the magus to tap and send power.

A protective stone, legend has it that sapphire can protect its wearer from capture, as such it is useful in legal matters. Like rubies, pink sapphires are thought to ward off ill-health and misfortune when worn against the skin.