One of the costliest gems hailed for its bright blue colour, the Blue Sapphire has always been surrounded by controversies.
Blue Sapphire, an oxide mineral crystal is one among the four precious stones. It is a variety of the corundum mineral which is a crystalline form of aluminium oxide and minimal amounts of other elements such as iron, chromium, titanium, vanadium or magnesium.
The word Sapphire usually brings the image of a gorgeous, vivid blue stone to our minds. An interesting and rather unknown fact about sapphires is that they are not found in nature only in blue hues but also in a range of colours including pink, red, orange, yellow, green, violet, brown, etc.
The name Sapphire is believed to have many origins across the world. The Latin word ‘sapphirus’ and the Greek word ‘sappheiros’ mean blue.
Also, the Old French (12th century) word ‘saphir’ and ‘zafir’ in Spanish and ‘zaffiro’ in Italian all describe the precious blue stone from earth. Others believe the name originated from the Sanskrit term ‘sanipriyah’ meaning Sacred to Saturn.
Myths and Legends From Around the World:
Legends and myths have always surrounded the precious gemstones on Earth.
From being able to ward off evil to possess healing powers, these stones have been accompanied by numerous beliefs since the ancient civilizations of Greece, Persia and Egypt.
The Sapphire is no exception to this. People believed that sapphires possessed the power to expose evil persons, influence spirits and many other mystical powers. Let us take a look at some of them here:
1. The Star Sapphire
Some sapphires exhibit the shape of a star due to inclusions within the stones. The phenomenon is termed Epiasteriam which occurs when light is reflected by the parallelly arranged inclusions inside the gemstone.
Star Sapphire was referred to as the ‘Stone of Destiny’ in the past by people who believed it to possess mystical powers of luck and good fortune. They believed the lines of the star in the sapphire to represent faith, hope and destiny.
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2. Ancient Persia
Ancient Persians believed that the Earth was set on a pedestal made of a big blue rock, the sapphire. They also believed that the reflection of this blue stone was the reason for the colour of the sky.
3. Ancient Greece
Ancient Greeks believed that sapphires had the power to protect the wearer from poison, envy and ill intentions. Greek healers also used sapphires in their practices as they believed it to cure conditions like rheumatism, colic, eyesight, colic, etc.
Sapphires were also connected to the Greek God Apollo and the Oracle of Delphi. It was said that Pythia, the Oracle wore a brilliant sapphire when she prophesied.
The petitioners or the commoners who came to visit upon the Oracle also carried gemstones for they were believed to impart clarity of mind to those who carried them.
The witches and necromancers of that period used sapphires in their rituals and practices because of the stone’s alleged ability to tap into the third eye.
Another famous legend from Greece of the Prometheus included the titan being chained to a huge rock as punishment.
The ancient Greeks believed that this stone was Sapphire and when Hercules freed Prometheus, it broke a piece of the stone which became the very first sapphire gem on the Earth.
4. Ancient Egypt
The Egyptians also believed in the sapphire’s healing powers. They seem to have used the stone to treat various diseases of the eye.
It is also said that the blue stone referred to in the ancient Egyptian literature might have been lapis-lazuli and not the sapphire. However, the name sapphire was given to the gemstone to impress upon its vibrant blue hue.
Throughout the history of Hebrews, sapphires have been an important symbol of honesty, sincerity and loyalty.
They have also remained an important adornment of the royals symbolising their commitment to their subject. The royals also believed the sapphire to protect them from their enemies.
Exodus includes mentions of sapphires portraying the Lord’s divinity and holiness. The stones represented the foundation of the world under the Lord’s feet.
There have been 12 mentions of the sapphires in the Holy Bible. It is also believed that the tablets of the Ten Commandments were made of sapphires when Moses received them.
The nobles and clergymen of the Middle Ages wore sapphires around their necks to ward off harm and as a symbol of heaven.
6. Hindu Mythology
Kalpavriksha, the wish-granting tree in Hindu mythology, is made of various precious stones. It is said to possess rubies for fruits, diamonds for the trunk and sapphires for the roots.
7. The Star of India Curse
The 563-carat sapphire is the largest known blue sapphire in the world and was mined in Sri Lanka over 300 years ago. The stone is believed to be cursed due to its mysterious origins when it was mined.
Later, when the stone was displayed at the American Museum of National History, a group of jewel thieves stole the gem which was the only artefact that was placed under a security alarm.
But with the alarm batteries dead, the thieves stole it and escaped. However, the gem was later retrieved when the thieves were captured. This incident made the infamous Star of India even more famous.
Healing Powers of Sapphires
Various civilisations, throughout the history of time, have used sapphires to treat human ailments. They were believed to be antidotes to certain poisons and cure eye ailments when rubbed on the affected eye.
Sapphires were ground and the powder was used in remedies for rheumatism, mental illness, colic and various other ailments because of the astringent properties of these gems.
Sapphire is the birthstone of September. Yet the famous old rhyme about Sapphire links it to the star sign Taurus. The verse goes as follows,
If on your hand this stone you bind You in Taurus born will find
‘Twill cure diseases of the mind,
A Royal Stone
Sapphires are considered the wisdom stones that improve the strength of the minds of the wearers. They were believed to boost creativity, calm and focus the mind.
The stones helped with the clarity of mind, relieving stress and depression. Royals have preferred these stones to be a part of their crown jewels to aid them in ruling with excellence.
Sapphires are also a symbol of love, loyalty, commitment and faithfulness. The stones are believed to bring home prosperity and serenity. Hence they have become a symbol of prosperity, wisdom and loyalty.
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A Few World-Famous Sapphires
- Black Star of Queensland
- The Great Sapphire of Louis XIV
- The Rockefeller Sapphire
- The Star of Bombay
- The Star of India
- The Midnight Star
- The Commoners’ Sapphire
Sapphires are one of the 4 precious gemstones in the world found in many colours and not only in blue hues as believed by most people. However, the vibrant blue shade gave the name sapphire to the gem.
Throughout the history of civilisations across the world, sapphires have been a part of many legends and myths. Believed to possess healing powers and mystical properties, sapphire still remains a coveted gem among men.
Royalty all over the world includes sapphires in their crown jewels due to their brilliance in colour, and the symbols of faith, wisdom and loyalty they stand for.