Sapphire and Ruby

The Sapphires and Rubies both belong to a large family: that of corundum. They have the property and wealth to decline under a rainbow of colors. Blue is commonly associated with sapphire and red with ruby. It is without counting the various garments of light of these gems so appreciated!

Besides blue, sapphire can be colorless, yellow, orange, pink, purple, green, black ... When it is red, it is generally called ruby. Thanks to impurities, oxides or other elements infiltrated during their formation, these corundum offer us a multitude of colors to be contemplated. The imperfection of nature then becomes an asset that sublimates them. The diversity of these gems extends further: some sapphires and rubies can be starred or change color according to lighting. So many treasures to discover through the beauty of these legendary gems ...

  The family traits of sapphires and rubies



Their common properties

These two varieties of corundum have the same hardness: 9 on the Mohs scale (hardness scale from 1 to 10, 1 for dry soap and 10 for diamond). They are therefore very resistant to scratches and can be worn daily, in any form of jewelry whatsoever.

These are aluminum oxides (they are therefore composed of aluminum and oxygen). Their crystals can be in the form of hexagonal pyramids, barrel ...

The characteristics of sapphires and rubies are among others: strips of colors which intersect like silk threads and give the gem a velvety appearance; Areas of color concentration; Small crystals; Of liquid inclusions resembling fingerprints.

Some of these imperfections can play in favor of color, or to its disadvantage. This is why the work of the lapidary is decisive because depending on the size made, the luster will be different and the gem more or less sparkling. The goal is also to retain maximum weight while highlighting the gem's assets, which often involves turning these defects into advantages.

Both are born in a mother rock such as marble, gneiss or basalt and are extracted both at high altitudes and near a river.

The sources of these gems are distributed throughout the world, with a clear concentration in Asia and Africa.



The heating of our dear corundum

Of course nature sometimes does things so well that no treatment is necessary: it creates itself gems full of life. When this is not the case, man continues the work that nature has begun. Many treatments exist to make sapphires and rubies more pleasant to contemplate. Among them, the heater. This process is an embellishment treatment to reveal and reinforce the true color of the stones. Most of the sapphires and rubies marketed today are the subject of this practice, which has existed since antiquity in Sri Lanka and does not devalue the gem in any case.

Some corundums are too pale, not sparkling enough, or too dark ... Artificially heating them does not alter the fact that they are natural stones, only their brilliance is brought to light. Just as nature allows their color during training, the man takes over and applies the same conditions in order to unveil their beauty. The heating is distinct from other newer treatments which are very intrusive and which can denature the gem (example: rubies whose cracks are filled with colored glass to give them better appearance). In this case, a foreign body is introduced into the stone: it is no longer considered completely natural.



A reputation that is complete…

Sapphire and ruby are among the four gems considered the most precious (the other two being diamond and emerald). This is not a coincidence, because it is hard stones that resist shocks.

For millennia, these corundums are associated with the most prestigious ornaments and crowns and evoke strong symbols: passion, beauty, wisdom for the ruby and nobility, belief, sincerity for the sapphire.

And of course ... Their most obvious common point concerns the attraction that they operate on lovers of pebbles and beautiful ... And this since their discovery.

These gems are unavoidable, uncontrollable: how amazed to be, of such a diversity of colors and splendor which nature has graciously endowed them with?



The sapphire: the hidden face of a corundum that was always believed in blue…

In its purest form, this aluminum oxide is colorless. It is the impurities and other elements that determine its color. When the term sapphire is used, blue sapphire is implied. In Greek "sappheiros" means "stone of blue color". It is the combination of impurities such as iron and titanium that gives it this color so reputed and coveted. The more iron the sapphire contains, with more pronounced blue.

- Its origins: just as for ruby, Asia is the cradle of sapphire. The three most important sources of its history are Kashmir, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Blue sapphires from these locations are considered to be of better quality than anywhere else. Sri Lanka is one of the most gem-rich lands in the world. Most of the sapphires considered of higher quality and weighing more than 100 carats come from Sri Lanka. According to its origin, different terms and characteristics are attributed to sapphire, sometimes failing. And it is not evident to affirm the origin of a stone by simply based on its brilliance, its inclusions, the intensity of its color ... For example, it is called "sapphire Kashmir" the sapphire whose color s 'Apparent to that of blueberry because of its dominant color violet-blue to pure blue velvety and its depth, typical criteria of sapphires coming from Kashmir. This kind of sapphire is very rare. Other important Asian sources are Thailand, Vietnam, China and Cambodia. More generally, sapphires are also found in Africa (Niger, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania) and in Madagascar, where many sapphires have been extracted for decades. They are often sold elsewhere as sapphire from Sri Lanka or Ceylon. There are also other sources such as Australia and the United States (in the state of Montana). Most sapphires are cut in Asia.

- A rainbow of sapphires: the sapphire has a hidden face... It can take a multitude of appearances, thus fulfilling the most demanding of its admirers... One of the most coveted colors is orange-pink, pink orange: it is the famous Padparadscha , Which means "lotus flower" in Sinhala. This sublime color comparable to the flesh of a ripe guava raises this sapphire to the rank of the noblest and most esteemed. It owes its color to elements such as iron and chrome. Its color is unique. Like the Padparadscha, the sapphires of an intense pink sparkling are very appreciated because unusual and of unequaled beauty. Their color is due in large part to chromium. A combination of iron, chrome and titanium generally contributes to giving its purple color to sapphire. There are purple-red sapphires whose color is not due to chromium but to the presence of beryllium. The green sapphires hold their color from several elements including iron and titanium. It is not always easy to find green sapphires with intense intensity and vibrant radiance. Other stones such as tsavorites and tourmalines usually have a more intense green. The iron also intervenes in the yellow-orange color of a sapphire.

Some traces of chrome sometimes infiltrate to give this color. The colorless sapphire or called "leucosaphir" (leuco meaning white, colorless in Greek) is the purest sapphire since it is not stained by an impurity. It has often been used as a substitute for diamond and is now more affordable. Just as is the black sapphire, which nevertheless experienced a beautiful period with the success of black diamonds. Philippe Tournaire likes to paint with the palette of colors offered by the sapphire, a gem full of surprises. By associating them, the artisan jeweler creates a harmony of his own: sparkling colors spring from the painting to give it life. It is the magic of the rainbow of sapphires! 



Ruby is, by excellence, the red corundum 

In Sanskrit language, the ruby is called "ratnaraj", which means "the king of precious stones". Considered the most popular variety of corundum, the ruby owes its color to chromium. The more this element is present, the more intense the red. This gem raises many controversies about its name: indeed, the barrier is sometimes tiny between an intense pink sapphire and a bright pink-raspberry ruby, sparkling red.

- Its origins: a term often comes back when it comes to describing the best color of rubies: "pigeon blood". It is very rare to see pigeon blood actually! This image indicates a red slightly tinged with purple, it is a type of ruby ​​very specific. The creator Philippe Tournaire does not stop at this description: he chooses his rubies for their vibrant color, intense, sparkling and full of life. At the same time, this name refers to the rubies of Myanmar and in particular to Mogok, which is the most historically significant source of rubies. In spite of established criteria of value, it goes without saying that the beauty of a ruby ​​depends on the appreciation of each one and is therefore subjective. Rubies are found mainly in Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Africa is also an abundant source of rubies: in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and also Madagascar. This unique gem by its intense red and so adulated throughout the world, stands out from the rest and is anchored in history forever. Conceived since its discovery, it is also one of the first colored gems to have been imitated, thousands of years ago, by simple pieces of colored glass. But its impurities which characterize it as the sapphire, its unrivaled color do not deceive. The charm of nature's imperfections also resides in the fact that they are a foretaste of the natural character of a sublime gem such as ruby.



The chameleon and starred corundums: "puzzle stones"

Sapphire, "rainbow" sapphires and rubies are the major players in the corundum family. However this family is large and counts among its members sapphires and rubies of another type, equally extraordinary and colorful! Do you know that gems sometimes show wonderful stars? Once again, the stones carry us into an imaginary world that allows us to dream ... There are indeed sapphires and starry rubies. This physical phenomenon called "asterism" brings up a star with six branches most of the time (sometimes 4, sometimes 12 branches, but this is very rare). This occurs when light reflects small inclusions similar to scintillating pins, which interact in several directions. These gems are carved in a cabochon, which makes it possible to be in front of the unusual spectacle given by a star in an enigmatic stone. A star-shaped sapphire or ruby ​​of very good quality must show a fine star, distinct, centered on the top of the stone and which remains of the same shape when viewed from different angles of view. Whatever it is, the more pronounced the contrast between the color of the stone and the star, the more it is worth estimating. Globally, these star-shaped corundums are found in the same regions as the sapphires and the rubies do not show this type of phenomenon. Philippe Tournaire likes to sublimate his creations by including rubies and star sapphires in strange and finely chosen colors, which sometimes transcend the ring. The unusual charm of these gems is then brought to light. Another atypical case of corundum, the sapphire "chameleon": It changes color according to the light to which it is exposed. Thus, this intriguing gem of purple-violet appearance in the light of day is a purple dress tinged with red to artificial light. The trigger for this phenomenon is vanadium. This impurity is rarely present during the formation of sapphires, which makes these "chameleon" gems even more unique because of their rarity. They are often compared to a gem called Alexandrite, which reveals the same peculiarity.

The corundum family is therefore not limited to blue sapphire and red ruby. It embraces the colors of the rainbow, the stars ... This diversity is its strength. The same gem, with different inclusions, is transformed, metamorphoses. So many colors to contemplate, so many journeys through these beauties that nature offers us ... The kingdom of sapphires and rubies is constantly rediscovered, with a pleasure each time renewed. Philippe Tournaire likes this gem of a thousand faces, which is a key element of his creations.

We organizes gemology workshops where you can get to know sapphires and rubies of all kinds. Enter the colorful corundum family!


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