Sapphires and Rubies are gems of the variety known as Corundum. Corundum occurs is a wide variety of colors. Of course Ruby is red but sapphires come in all colors except red.
Sapphire can be found in pink, orange, yellow, brown, green, blue, violet, black and colorless. All sapphire colors other than blue are referred to as being a " fancy color".
PROPERTIES OF CORUNDUM
Corundum's array of colors, the gems retains great durabilty and there is a good supply of the gem available. These factors have contributed to making Sapphires and Rubies very important gemstones through history. Corundum has high density and great hardness second only to diamond. Corundum gems are pleochroic and can display color transition or even color change from purple to blue.
Star sapphires and Rubies are very desirable and occur when titanium is present the crystal structure. It crystalliizes as fine inclusions of rutile. The rutile inclusions multiplied by corundum's trigonal symmetry display six or eve 12 rayed stars in the gem.
HISTORY OF CORUNDUM
In history gemstones were originally grouped by color. Before 1800 red spinel, red garnet and ruby were all termed as Ruby derived from the latin " rubeaus" meaning "red". Therefore a number of historically famous so called rubies have been later identified as red spinel. The Cathrine the Great Ruby was considered for years to be the largest ruby in Europe has now been identified as a tourmaline.
Sapphire comes from " sapphirus" meaning blue. Therefore until the middle ages even lapis lazuli was referred to as sapphire.
The history of Sapphire can be traced back to the seventh century B.C., where it was used by the Etruscans. Rome sourced rubies from Sri Lanka and India. In India ruby was consider as the king of precious stones.
Marco Polo travelled to Sri Lanka. In his book from the thirteenth century titled the Book of Marvels he gives praise to both sappphire and ruby.
Sapphire was a favoured gemstone for use in rings of the medieval kings in Europe. During the renaissance both gemstones where favoured by the wealthy. Infact the price of a ruby was greater than diamond. Still today fine rubies fetch record prices.
Over the centuries many powers have been ascribed to rubies. The Burmese believed that it could bestow in vulnerability.
Another belief in europe was that a ruby could foretell impending misfortune or danger by darkening itself. Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536) was the first wife of Henry VIII. She is said to have foretold her own downfall by noticing the darkening of her ruby.
Sapphires was believed to protect kings from envy and harm. The star sapphire was known as the star of destiny. The Germans called sapphire " siegstein," which meant "victory stone".
The earliest sources for both ruby and sapphire are in Sri Lanka. Today the major source is Thailand near the Cambodian border. The worlds finest rubies come from the mogok valley in Burma.The largest source of sapphire is Australia.
Other important sources of Ruby and sapphire are Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and East Africa.