The Kashmir sapphire, a rare 55.19-carat gem previously owned by a member of the Guinness family, was recently auctioned for a whopping $3.9m, making it the largest sapphire ever to be bid on. Sapphires, with their remarkable deep blue hue, have long been loved by some of the most famous people in the world, including royals throughout history. But you don't have to have blue blood to wear this beautiful blue stone–you too can embrace sapphire jewellery as part of your collection.
Let's delve into the world of sapphires, from antique gems to sapphire engagement rings, and share our best tips for wearing this beautiful stone.
Sapphire, and its cousin the ruby, is derived from the mineral corundum. During the gemstone formation process, which under natural conditions can take thousands or even millions of years, the corundum interacts with other minerals to take on a range of colours. Red corundum is known as ruby, and any other shade, including pink, white, yellow and blue, is considered sapphire.
That's right, although sapphires are widely recognized for their deep blue hue, there are many varieties of this precious stone. Not only do they vary in colour, but given that they're naturally occurring, their appearance will slightly vary too. A sapphire's uniqueness shouldn't be a drawback, but rather an indication of its authenticity.
A sapphire for every occasion
Whether you're getting ready for a Zoom date or the red carpet, sapphires can add some elegant sparkle to your look. Not sure where to start? Here are a couple of ways to include sapphires in your collection.
Everyday Sparkle: Sapphire birthstone jewellery and studs
On a scale of one to 10, sapphires score nine on the Mohs scale of hardness. Diamonds are the only thing to surpass sapphires, meaning they're the only natural material to be able to scratch or cause damage to this gemstone. Thanks to their durability, sapphires are safe to be worn every day.
But how do you wear a sapphire daily? Choose a deep blue or white sapphire to go with almost any outfit. Sapphire studs are an interesting take on a jewellery collection classic, as is a sapphire pendant necklace.
Those born in the month of September might find extra significance in sapphires, as they're the September birthstone. Reach for your studs or birthstone necklace like you would your favourite pair of jeans.
Vintage Elegance: Antique sapphire jewellery
If you prefer a vintage look in your wardrobe and your jewellery collection, antique sapphire pieces are a beautiful option. The best part is that vintage doesn't always have to carry a large price tag. If you know what to look for, you'll be able to recreate the vintage look for less. Certain gemstone cuts, such as pear, emerald, and cushion-cut, give a nod to the past, as well as yellow gold. Whether it's a vintage-inspired sapphire bracelet or earrings, you'll be able to wear these timeless classics everywhere you go.
Something Blue: Sapphires for weddings and formal occasions
A bold gemstone deserves a bold occasion, and what could be bigger than your wedding day? If you're stuck on your "something blue", why not top off your wedding attire with some blue sapphire jewellery? This could be a set of drop earrings or a necklace featuring a sapphire centerpiece with a diamond halo.
If a wedding isn't on the horizon, sapphires can be your dazzling companions for years to come at any formal event you attend.
How to wear sapphires
Given that sapphires come in a range of bold colours, it may feel tricky to pair them with your wardrobe and other jewellery. While there are no hard and fast rules, here are a couple of basic guidelines which may help you pull your look together.
Mixing sapphires with other jewellery and stones
Consider your personal style
If you're looking at sapphire engagement rings, for example, it's important to consider your personal style and how your stones reflect that. For lovers of vintage, adding milgrain edges to your band may help you achieve your look. If you'd rather keep it modern, a micropavé halo setting could be a better choice.
Diamonds are a popular option to go alongside a sapphire, whether they're placed next to the stone in a classic three-stone design or pavé-set, as they allow all shades of sapphire to really shine.
Wear complementary coloured stones
Your elementary school colour theory will come into practice here; pair sapphires with colours that are opposite on the colour wheel. If you have a blue sapphire necklace pendant, for example, wearing it with a yellow gold chain may help to bring out the rich hues. If you've got your eye on a pink sapphire ring, pick out another subtle piece of jewellery with a yellow or green gemstone to complement it.
Let your sapphire shine
While wearing complementary colours works in many cases, when it's overdone it runs the risk of outshining the sapphire itself. Sapphire is a beautiful and rare gem that shouldn't be overwhelmed with the addition of too many other gems or colours. Stick to the basics and allow your precious stone to take centre stage.
Don't be afraid to experiment
Rules are made to be broken, and if you're investing in some timeless sapphire jewellery, you should style it however your heart desires. Start with pieces already in your jewellery collection and see how they look against your new sapphire earrings. You may be surprised by how well some pieces complement your sapphire jewelry!
Matching sapphires to your wardrobe
Simple clothing will make your sapphire the star
Sapphire jewellery is best worn with items of clothing that will highlight its rich colour. Whether it's for a formal occasion or everyday wear, pairing your sapphire pieces with clothes and accessories that are simple and sleek will allow your gemstone to stand out. Your vibrant blue sapphire will be the eye-catching finishing touch to your ensemble.
Don't limit yourself to neutral colours
While blacks, whites and other neutral colours are a safe option to wear with sapphires, you are not restricted to these. Consider two more alternatives: wearing similar colours and wearing complementary colours. A similarly coloured shirt or dress will naturally pair well with your sapphire jewellery, as will anything in the opposing colour to your sapphire. If you're wearing a pink sapphire ring, consider a sage green or canary yellow linen dress for an elegant, casual look.
Consider the occasion
Sapphires can be worn both rolling out of bed and with a ball gown at a gala, but the type of sapphire jewellery you wear may vary depending on the occasion. For an everyday look, choose an understated sapphire pendant necklace or ring. For formal occasions, a statement necklace or sapphire drop earrings will dress up your look.
Don't overthink it
The best way to match your sapphire jewellery to your wardrobe is by trying things on. Take the time to try on combinations you may not think work, because this is another step towards figuring out what looks right for you.
Famous sapphires: Royal engagement rings
While our chances of marrying into royalty may be slim, there's no harm in taking inspiration from them. Sapphires have long been part of the royal family's unofficial uniform. Let's take a closer look at how they choose to wear and accessorize this iconic stone.
Princess Diana's sapphires
It's no secret that Diana was a unique royal. Sometimes called the "people's princess", she made some unexpected choices that won her hearts all over the world. She famously chose an engagement ring that was 'off the rack', rather than custom-made, which was unusual for royalty. The ring in question was a 12-carat Ceylon blue sapphire ring surrounded by 14 diamonds, which she wore throughout her engagement, during her marriage, and most controversially, after her divorce.
Diana wasn't afraid of wearing her ring with anything from her colourful wardrobe, and she most often paired her ring with earrings and necklaces featuring diamonds, pearls and more sapphires. Most famously, she wore it with a seven-strand pearl and sapphire choker with her iconic "revenge" dress in 1994.
Kate Middleton's sapphire engagement ring
Princess Diana's engagement ring sparked a decade-long boom in sapphire ring sales and this same ring came back into the limelight when Prince Willian popped the question to Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, in 2010. Unlike Diana, Kate wears a more muted colour palette, allowing her blue sapphire ring to take the spotlight. She often pairs her ring with an understated pendant necklace and diamond or sapphire drop earrings.
Princess Eugenie's pink sapphire engagement ring
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's daughter, Princess Eugenie, received a pink sapphire ring following her engagement to her now-husband, Jack Brooksbank. The ring itself was a pink-orange padparadscha sapphire surrounded by a halo of diamonds. The princess doesn't shy away from colour in her wardrobe, often wearing the ring with blue or purple pastel dresses and coats.
How to care for your sapphires
Sapphire jewellery is an investment that should be treated as such. Much like with any other piece of jewellery in your collection, your sapphire pieces should be properly looked after so they remain sparkling for many lifetimes.
To start, make sure you're keeping your sapphire engagement ring, necklaces, earrings, or other sapphire jewellery are stored separately. Sapphire is a naturally hard substance and can scratch and damage soft metals quite easily. Even so, sapphire is certainly not indestructible so it's important to clean and store it properly. Although the sapphire itself is unlikely to be blemished, pavé-set stones and the precious metal setting run the risk of damage.
Clean your sapphire jewellery in a shallow bowl away from any drains. Soak it in warm, soapy water and then gently scrub with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Thoroughly dry your jewellery and then repeat if necessary.
Dive into the blue
Sapphires are a popular choice among many for a good reason. While historically kings and queens may have chosen sapphires for their symbolism—particularly that of bringing wisdom—this stone has remained esteemed due to its classic beauty.
With their range of colours, sapphires are truly one of the most versatile gemstones. Whether you're a fan of vintage pendants or intricate halo-style rings, there's bound to be a piece of sapphire jewellery to suit your taste.