Sapphire has long associations with peace and happiness, and is believed to help with communication, insight, intuition, inspiration and prayer. The ancients believed that sapphires could help them to predict the future.
The sapphire is a cousin of the ruby, or perhaps a sibling since it’s also a form of corundum. Sapphires come in multiple hues from orange and yellow, to green, purple and pink, with blue being the most prized colour. The particular tint of cerulean blue only found on the island of Sri Lanka is the most valuable of the sapphires.
Many medieval European physicians used sapphire for curing eye diseases. Charles V of France had a ring of Oriental sapphire speci cally for touching the eyes. Sapphire was also recommended for rubbing gently and slowly around plague boils in order to cure them. The cure was effected by the stone’s ability to continue absorbing and purifying the contagion even after the physician (and sapphire) had left. It seems that the sapphire worked what’s known as contagious magic (no connection to the actual plague just to the idea of contagion) – once it had been in proximity to the boils it continued to exert an in uence over them, and thus continued the process of the cure.
The virtues of the sapphire may have been called upon here as it symbolised all that was true and good, and helped to develop ‘celestial contemplation’, while also protecting against harm. The apotropaic nature of the sapphire extended to protecting the wearer from both venomous creatures and venomous thoughts.
Interestingly enough, the sapphire talisman continues to ‘exercise its good in uence over the wearer even when it has passed into other hands’, which may have been the source of the idea of how the stone continued to cure plague boils from a distance.
It was highly valued by those practicing the occult arts because it ‘enabled them to hear and understand the most obscure of oracles.’
The asteria or star sapphire (which has a 6-pointed star that moves 55
across its curved surface) was considered particularly effective. It protected against witchcraft, and the evil eye, and brought luck even to those who simply looked upon its curious effect. The three lines that cross in the centre to form the star came to represent the three virtues of faith, hope and destiny (not sure what happened to charity though).
As well as protecting from harm, the stone’s ability to drive off ‘wicked and improper thoughts’ made it a perfect amulet for chaste love – one reason they have been popular for engagement rings. If worn by an unfaithful spouse their shine and lustre is said to dim.
Their different colours relate to different chakras, with the most popular blue connecting to the third-eye and throat chakra, thus exerting a good in uence over the pineal, pituitary and thyroid glands. They were also recommended to stop nosebleeds, and cure ulcers, as well as heart and eye diseases.
There is a long tradition from Hebrew, Roman and Arabic times that considers the sapphire as a gem for Taurus, while the ancient Chaldeans, the originators of astrology as we know it, set sapphire as the stone for Aquarius.
However in modern times its has become the gemstone for September and Virgo.
A very hard stone, sapphires measure 8 on the Mohs scale and is an excellent stones for claw-set rings.
The scienti c stuff:
Sapphires, like rubies, are a type of corundum composed from aluminium oxide. Trace amounts of other elements such as iron, titanium, chromium, copper or magnesium can give corundum the blue, yellow, purple, orange, or greenish colour we see in sapphire varieties.
Because of their hardness (9 on the Mohs scale) sapphires have many 56
industrial applications including in scienti c instruments, wristwatch crystals and movement bearings. Also, they are now used as very thin electronic wafers for insulating substrates of special-purpose solid- state electronics, such as transistors, microprocessor chips and RAM (most of which are integrated circuits). Solid-state means that the electrons are con ned within the solid material rather than operating like electro-mechanical devices such as relays and switches. The building material for solid-sate electronics is most often a crystalline semiconductor.