The Scintillating History of Sapphire Jewellery

Feb 24, 2021 | Uncategorized

With its dazzling colours, the sapphire has long been a popular gem of choice of everyone from ancient royalty to modern-day celebrities. And although it comes in many colours, the deep electric blue sapphire is probably one of the most iconic jewels in the world.

The history of the sapphire

Since 800BC, these gemstones have been prized by rulers and aristocracy. In Ancient Persia, rulers believed that the sky had been painted blue due to the reflection of sapphires. Meanwhile, in Ancient Greece and Rome, kings and queens believed that these sparkling jewels had the power to protect their owners from harm and disease.

Later on, in the 12th century, sapphires were seen as a holy gem, often embedded in ecclesiastical rings and worn by members of the clergy who linked its blue colour with the heavens above. Even “commoners” who could only dream of seeing a sapphire believed it attracted heavenly blessings.

In the centuries since then, sapphires have remained highly sought-after jewel, highly coveted by wealthy and influential members of the aristocracy who believed it warded off poverty.

Famous sapphires throughout time

Given its illustrious status, it comes as no surprise then that sapphires hold a special place in history – with many famous men and women favouring this stone above all others.

Napoléon’s Engagement Ring for Joséphine

To celebrate their engagement, Napoleon gave Josephine a Toi et Moi (you and me) ring which featured a pear-shaped sapphire and diamond sitting side by side. The ring was passed down through the generations, from Josephine to her daughter Hortense, and remained in the Bonaparte family for two centuries. Most recently, the ring was auctioned in 2013 by French auction house, Osenat, and fetched had fetched nearly $950,000. 

The Star of Bombay

Originating from Sri Lanka, the Star of Bombay is a 182 carat (36.4-g) cabochon-cut star sapphire, famous for its deep violet-blue colour. It is perhaps best known for its association with silent-movie actress, Mary Pickford, who was given the jewel by her husband. After she passed in 1979, the Star was bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institution where it resides to this day.

Blue Giant of the Orient

The Blue Giant is the largest faceted blue sapphire in the world, at 486 carats and measuring 2.5inches in diameter. Discovered in Sri Lanka in 1907, the Giant was sold to an anonymous American collector and remained unheard of until May 2004, when it appeared in a Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction catalogue. Sold for $1 million to a mystery buyer, the gem remains shrouded in mystery.

Stuart Sapphire

As one of England’s crown jewels, the Stuart Sapphire was first owned by Charles II of England and weighs approximately 104 carats. It has been used in the Imperial State Crown worn by Queen Victoria, as well as Queen Elizabeth II’s State Crown and currently resides in the Tower of London.

Kate Middleton’s Engagement Ring

Of course, no sapphire history would be complete without the Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement ring. Formerly belonging to Princess Diana, it was then used by Prince William to propose to the Duchess as a way of including his mother in their wedding day.

Say it with sapphires and browse our stunning collection of diamond and sapphire engagement rings.

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