Sapphire is a variety of Corundum which was once considered to be a stone of royalty by the Ancient Roman, Greek, and Egyptian civilizations. Its use dates back to 2,500 years ago and is traditionally considered to be dark blue, but also comes in a variety of colors. The only color a sapphire cannot appear as is red, because red Corundum is Ruby. Sapphires are generally associated with intuition, communication, creativity, and expanded awareness, but its healing properties vary depending on its color. For example, blue sapphires are enhancers of insight and an activation stone of mental and psychic abilities, associated with the planet Saturn, ruling over discipline, limitation and structure. Yellow sapphire, a stone of prosperity and abundance, vibrates with the Solar Plexus chakra. Orange sapphire is the rarest and most prized, activating the creativity centers and strengthening desires. Pink sapphire, a resilient and protective stone, stimulates gentle energies of love. White sapphire focuses and clears the mind to better channel your desires. With a spectrum like this, it’s not difficult to see that there are many amazing aspects to the stone yet, although sapphires come in many colors, history’s fascination with them mainly encompasses the deep blue variety, with many pieces now resting in museums or Crown jewels. Let’s take a deeper look. Here are ten things you didn’t know about sapphire.
1. Sapphire, the Ancient Seat of the World
Among many creation legends and beliefs about the world, one which stands out the most is one which concerns this fascinating precious gem. The ancient Persians believed that the world rested upon a giant sapphire pedestal whose reflection caused the blue of the sky. Within this belief is another that all the sapphires in the world are chips broken off of the “seat of the world”.
2. Sapphires and the Wishing Tree
In many ancient cultures and religions, sapphires were believed to be of divine origin, its properties a gift from the heavens. Hindu mythology tells of an ancient Kalpa Tree (the tree of life) or the wishing tree which had fruit of rubies, a trunk of diamond, and roots of sapphire. Legends say mankind misused the tree by wishing bad thoughts and so the King of the Highest Heavens, Indra, swept the tree back into the heavens.
3. Sapphires in Christian History
Worn by many early Christian Kings for its properties of protection, sapphires were often considered a sacred symbol. According to the Jewish Talmud, Moses was given the ten commandments written on sapphire tablets. It was believed that this “holy stone” had the power to prevent impure thoughts. Some even went as far as to say the stone wouldn’t shine if worn or held by someone who wasn’t chaste. Although today, it is believed that sapphire was the name given to another magical blue stone, lapis lazuli. Additionally, King Solomon’s ring, the Seal of Solomon was said to have been set with a large sapphire which gave him the ability to command demons and speak to animals.
4. Sapphires in Greek Mythology
The ancient Greeks associated sapphires with the god Apollo, the god of wisdom, and they were often worn by Pythia, the famous oracle at Delphi. Due to the belief that the stone held the ability to connect one to the spirit world, she became widely accredited for her prophecies. In Greek legend, the Titan Prometheus was punished for gifting humankind with fire by being chained to a rock. Supposedly, the rock was a giant sapphire and when Hercules later freed Prometheus, a chain from the link remained on his finger along with a piece of the stone. It is believed that this stone was the very first sapphire. Interestingly enough, the name itself is derived from the Greek word sappheiros, meaning “blue”.
5. Sapphire, the Stone of Destiny
Star sapphires are considered to be the most highly prized and valuable of all the sapphires due to their rarity. The star sapphire or “Asteria” gets its name from the three white lines which appear inside the polished stone as light touches it, creating a living star which is said to hold unique powers. This rare inclusion led to the star sapphire being named The Stone of Destiny, with its three lines representing faith, hope, and destiny in Christian Mythology. These lines were believed to ward off evil, protecting the wearer even long after it was no longer in their possession. An explorer, Sir Francis Richard Burton also claimed that the star sapphire brought fortune and good luck, carrying it with him as a talisman in his travels and would reward some people with a glimpse of the stone. This would bring him more fame and praise and it was thought that even a glimpse of the stone would also bring good luck.
6. Sapphire and its Curses
Many precious jewels and their intrigue are often followed by a curse in superstition – sapphires are no different. One of the most popular is the curse of the “New Delhi Purple Sapphire”. It turns out that stone was actually an amethyst. Other myths tell of the curse of the “Star of India” and another quite intriguing of the Hope Diamond or Black Orlov. Lastly, in the curse of the Tamari Sapphire, the curse was actually meant for a small monkey who had stolen the sapphire ring of an Indian High Priestess while she was in worship of the goddess Khali. Filled with rage, the Priestess cursed the monkey with all of Khali’s wrath as the monkey took off. It turns out the monkey was the pet of a wealthy American who found the sapphire and had it fashioned into a necklace for his lover Nicole, a Parisian dancer who wore the necklace on stage. A short time later, while on a trip to Egypt, Nicole drowned in the desert during a hundred-year storm which caused an insane flood. Thus begins the curse’s madness. Sometime after the storm, a dog cut its paw on the stone and died of blood poisoning. This fanciful tale passes the Tamari Sapphire through the unfortunate hands of many throughout, until it made its way into the British jewels.
7. Sapphires and Superstition
Not unlike most crystals and precious gems, sapphire comes with a load of superstitions to sit next to its healing properties. Because blue is a pure and heavenly color, sapphires are believed to ward off evil, in Eastern cultures especially. It was often said that if a wicked person wears sapphires, the stone will turn dark and lose its shine. Some beliefs also state that sapphires hold the power to influence spirits, which is why it is popular among witches and necromancers who claim to have used it to communicate with the dead. During the era of Charlemagne, sapphires were believed to hold the key to eternal salvation.
8. Sapphires throughout History
Of course, as with many of the popular healing crystals we love and cherish today, the Egyptians found them first. Sapphires were a favorite of many ancient Egyptians and they would often carve them into amulets, especially in the shape of the Eye of Horus. This, as stated in The Book of the Dead (an ancient Egyptian book of spells) was meant to guide the wearer into the afterlife. Emperor Shan Jahan, a name meaning “king of the world” in Persian, is widely known for building the Taj Mahal for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. He also commissioned the famous Peacock Throne out of sapphires, which took over seven years to create. Of all the jewels encrusted on the peacocks’ tails, the most prominent was the illuminating sapphires.
9. Sapphire, a Stone of Judgment
Madame de Genlis, a famous 19th Century French writer wrote a story “Le Saphire Merveilleux”, in which she used the stone as a plot device, based on a real stone in real life. In her story, a sapphire is used to determine the guilt or innocence of a young adulteress who is to hold the stone. If she is guilty, it is to change in color during the trial. If the owner of the sapphire would like the accused to be found innocent, he or she would set the trial to be held in daylight. If the owner would like the accused to be found guilty, he would set the trial for early evening so that candles would have to be lit in the courtroom as the sun sets, causing the sapphire to change in color and the woman to be found guilty.
10. Sapphires in Physical Healing
Given its many attributes and superstitions, it would almost seem as if sapphire is a purely metaphysical stone, but it offers many physical benefits as well. Sapphires were said to have been found among the tools of many ancient healers. In many legends, sapphires are said to heal physical wounds and diseases. For example, placing a sapphire on the forehead was said to stop nosebleeds and mixing the gemstone with milk would help sores and boils. People would also often make elixirs of sapphire to calm the stomach and digestive tract, and to heal ulcers. Sir Jerome Horsey quoted Ivan the Terrible in saying “The sapphire I greatly delight in, it preserves and increases courage, gives the heart joy, is pleasing to all vital senses, and is precious and sovereign for the eyes. It clears the eyes, takes away bloodshot, and strengthens the muscles and strings of it.” To the ancient Greeks, sapphires were believed to protect from poisoning, while to the ancient Egyptians, it would cure eye infections. I wouldn’t go swallowing a gemstone just yet though!
Zodiac: Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Sagittarius, Capricorn
Planet: Earth, Mars, Saturn
Chakras: crown, third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral
Elements: fire, water, wind
Colors: yellow, pink, orange, white, blue, green, purple, black