Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: sapphire from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Deep-blue, transparent gem variety of the mineral corundum Al2O3, aluminium oxide. Small amounts of iron and titanium give it its colour. A corundum gem of any colour except red (which is a ruby) can be called a sapphire; for example, yellow sapphire.

Summary Article: sapphire
From The Columbia Encyclopedia

precious stone. A transparent blue corundum, it is classified among the most valuable of gems. Sapphires are found chiefly in Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar and also in Thailand, Tanzania, Australia, Cambodia, and in the United States (in Montana). The sapphires from Kashmir, which is no longer a significant source of the gems, are of a beautiful cornflower blue and are highly valued. The Sri Lankan and Madagascan varieties are paler; those from Montana have a metallic luster; those from Myanmar are a dark royal blue; and the Australian sapphires are of a dark blue shade approaching black. The terms yellow sapphire, purple sapphire, and green sapphire are used alternatively with Oriental topaz, Oriental amethyst, and Oriental emerald for other varieties of corundum. Like rubies of similar structure, some sapphires display a six-pointed star when cut to a cabochon (round-topped) shape and exposed to direct sunlight. Such star sapphires are usually obtained from Sri Lanka. Natural sapphires may be heat-treated to enhance their color. Synthetic sapphires are made by the fusion of aluminum oxide, with titanium oxide added as a coloring agent.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles

Full text Article sapphire
The Penguin English Dictionary

/safie·ə/ noun 1 any transparent or translucent variety of the mineral corundum of a colour other than red, esp a transparent...

Full text Article sapphire
Word Origins

[13 century] Sapphire can be traced back through Old French safir and Latin sapphīrus to Greek sáppheiros (which seems to have...

Full text Article Sapphire
Illustrated Dictionary of Science, Andromeda

All Gem varieties of Corundum except those that, being red, are called Ruby ; blue sapphires are best known, but most other colors are...

See more from Credo