Kate Rohde's 'The Radiant Archive' now showing at our Russell Place Gallery, July 18-29

Kate Rohde: The Radiant Archive Exhibition
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    Ceylon Sapphire

    The Ceylon sapphire has an excellent reputation and is a much prized gem with a long history. The name comes from the colonial name of Sri Lanka, which has long been famed for the wealth of gems mined and traded from it’s shores. While many fine gems come from Sri Lanka, the Ceylon sapphire is a highly desired rich blue gem with a high lustre that has featured in some of the most famous jewels in history. It’s durability makes it an excellent gem for all jewellery, including rings.

    Ceylon Sapphire

    • Mineral/Corundum
    • Colour/Bright luminous blue
    • Moh's Hardness/9
    • Birthstone/September
    • Anniversary/5th, 45th & 65th


    Sapphire is the mineral corundum and is only second in hardness to diamond on the Moh's scale, making it a great choice for a ring or piece of jewellery that will be frequently worn. These gems are formed as the result of volcanic activity, sometimes described as basalt hosted. Stones are recovered from both secondary deposits along current or previous watercourses, and primary or reworked pyroclastic flows or volcanic mudflows (lahars).


    Archaeological finds confirm Sri Lanka was most likely the origin for sapphires in the classical period, and the earliest jewels to use this gem are Etruscan (600-275BC). They were traded through the Mediterranean via Eastern trade routes and were popular gems for royalty and the elite ruling classes. In biblical times, gems from Sri Lanka were presented to King Solomon's court and the sapphire mines of this island nation are estimated to be amongst the oldest in the world.

    Some of the world's most famous sapphires come from Sri Lanka, including the 104 carat Stuart sapphire in the British Crown Jewels which dates to 1214, the 423 carat Logan Blue and the 563 carat Star of India. Most famously, British Princess Diana selected a Ceylon sapphire and diamond ring for her engagement to Prince Charles in 1981. It was placed amongst other rings for her to choose from but she was most attracted to the incredible blue of the Ceylon gem; an 18 carat oval cut which was set surrounded with white diamonds. In 2010 Prince William presented this ring to Kate Middleton when the two became engaged.

    Today sapphire mining in Sri Lanka employs about 100,000 people and is a seasonal industry. More than 50 types of gemstones are found in Sri Lanka, placing it second only to Brazil, but the Ceylon sapphire is considered one of the best known and most highly prized gems. A thriving industry, 25% of global sapphire sales come from Sri Lanka, estimated at $350million annually.


    Sapphires are very hard gems that are suitable for all kinds of jewellery, including rings. Second in hardness only to a diamond, they are an excellent choice for longevity but be aware that any stone can break if it is hit hard enough. Wear all jewellery with care and avoid exposure to abrasive materials, harsh chemicals and extreme changes in heat.

    To clean, soak your sapphire piece in a dish of warm soapy water and use a soft toothbrush to gently brush away any built up residue. You can also use a jewellery cleaning cloth or professional jewellery cleaning products developed to be safe on sapphires. Professional jewellers like Pieces of Eight use an ultrasonic machine to clean your sapphires; bring them in for an annual clean and check.


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