Home Knowledges Staying Shiny: Exploring Factors that Can Damage a Sapphire

Staying Shiny: Exploring Factors that Can Damage a Sapphire

by Madonna

Sapphires, with their captivating beauty and remarkable durability, have been cherished gemstones for centuries. However, like all precious gems, sapphires are not impervious to damage. Understanding the factors that can harm these cherished gems is essential to ensure their longevity and brilliance. In this article, we explore the various elements that can potentially damage a sapphire, and provide insights on how to protect and care for these exquisite gemstones.

History of Sapphire

The history of sapphires dates back thousands of years, making them one of the most celebrated gemstones throughout human civilization. Here is an overview of the fascinating history of sapphires:


1. Ancient Times:

Discovery and Early Use: Sapphires were first discovered in ancient times, primarily in regions of the Middle East, such as present-day Sri Lanka and India. The ancient civilizations of Persia (now Iran) and Mesopotamia prized sapphires for their beauty and believed they held special powers and protection.


2. Medieval and Renaissance Era:

Sapphire Talismans: During the medieval period, sapphires gained popularity as protective talismans. They were worn to ward off evil spirits and protect the wearer from harm and envy.


3. The East:

Sapphire Mining: In the 19th and 20th centuries, significant sapphire deposits were discovered in the East, particularly in Kashmir (now part of India), Myanmar (Burma), and Sri Lanka. Kashmir sapphires, known for their velvety blue hue, became particularly prized and sought-after.

4. Modern Era:

a.Famous Sapphires:

Throughout history, several notable sapphires have gained fame. The Star of India, a 563-carat blue star sapphire, is one of the most famous sapphires in the world, housed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

b. Synthetic Sapphires:

In the early 20th century, the process of creating synthetic sapphires was developed, providing affordable alternatives to natural sapphires for various industrial and commercial applications.

c. Heirloom Jewelry:

Sapphires continue to be treasured in modern times, adorning engagement rings, earrings, necklaces, and other exquisite jewelry pieces. Many sapphires are handed down through generations as cherished family heirlooms.

Are sapphires easily damaged?

Sapphires are relatively durable gemstones, ranking 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, just below diamonds. Their impressive hardness makes them resistant to scratches and abrasions, making them suitable for everyday wear in jewelry. However, while sapphires are not easily damaged under normal circumstances, they can still be vulnerable to chipping or fracturing when subjected to significant impact or force. It is essential to handle sapphire jewelry with care and avoid exposing the gem to sudden temperature changes or harsh chemicals. By following proper maintenance and handling guidelines, sapphires can maintain their brilliance and allure for a lifetime.

Factors that Can Damage a Sapphire

Sapphires, cherished for their captivating beauty and remarkable durability, have adorned fine jewelry for centuries. However, like all precious gems, sapphires are not impervious to damage. Understanding the factors that can harm these cherished gems is essential to ensure their longevity and brilliance.

1. Hardness and Durability

Sapphires rank 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, just below diamonds, making them highly resistant to scratches and abrasions. This exceptional hardness makes sapphires suitable for everyday wear in jewelry.

While sapphires are durable, they can still be vulnerable to chipping or fracturing when subjected to significant impact or force. Avoid hitting the sapphire against hard surfaces or wearing it during activities that pose a risk of physical impact.

2. Heat and Temperature

Sapphires are generally heat resistant and can withstand high temperatures. However, exposure to extreme and sudden temperature changes can lead to thermal shock and cause the gem to crack or fracture.

To protect sapphires from temperature-related damage, avoid subjecting them to rapid changes in temperature. For instance, don’t expose the gem to high heat and immediately immerse it in cold water. Instead, allow the sapphire to cool gradually.

3. Chemicals and Cleaning

While sapphires are relatively chemically resistant, they can still be affected by harsh chemicals, such as acids and alkalis, which may lead to surface etching or damage.

To clean sapphires safely, use warm soapy water and a soft brush to remove dirt and debris. Avoid ultrasonic cleaners, as they may weaken or damage the gem’s internal structure. If necessary, seek professional cleaning from a reputable jeweler.

4. Ultrasonic Cleaners

Sapphires can generally tolerate gentle cleaning methods, but ultrasonic cleaners can pose risks, particularly if the gemstone has internal fractures or inclusions.

Whenever possible, opt for hand-cleaning methods using a soft brush and soapy water. This ensures a gentle cleaning process without the risk of exacerbating any pre-existing internal flaws.

5. Inclusions and Fractures

Some sapphires may have internal inclusions or imperfections that affect their appearance. While inclusions are common and do not necessarily impact durability, excessive inclusions may weaken the gem.

Sapphires with pre-existing fractures can be vulnerable to damage from pressure or impact.

Handle sapphire jewelry with care, especially if you suspect the gem has visible inclusions or fractures. Avoid wearing the jewelry during activities that could expose the sapphire to undue stress.

6. Ultraviolet (UV) Light

Some sapphires, particularly those with color treatment or color change properties, may be sensitive to prolonged exposure to intense UV light.

Store sapphire jewelry away from direct sunlight and minimize prolonged exposure to UV light to preserve the gem’s color and prevent any potential fading.

7. Household Chores

Household chores involving abrasive materials or rough surfaces can pose risks to sapphires, potentially leading to surface scratches or damage.

Avoid wearing sapphire jewelry during activities like gardening, cleaning, or home repairs. Store your jewelry in a safe place while engaging in such tasks.

8. Storing Safely

When storing sapphire jewelry, keep each piece separate from other jewelry to prevent scratching and damage.

Store sapphires in soft pouches or lined jewelry boxes to avoid accidental contact with other hard objects.

What sapphire symbolizes?

Sapphires have been revered and cherished throughout history for their symbolism and significance. The symbolism associated with sapphires can vary across different cultures and beliefs, but some of the common meanings attributed to sapphires include:

1. Wisdom and Knowledge:

In many ancient civilizations, sapphires were associated with wisdom and knowledge. The deep blue color of sapphires was believed to represent the heavens, making it a symbol of divine insight and spiritual enlightenment.

2. Royalty and Nobility:

Sapphires have long been associated with royalty and nobility. In medieval Europe, sapphires were considered a stone of royalty and adorned the regal jewelry of kings and queens. The gem’s rich blue color symbolized power, honor, and nobility.

3. Protection and Good Fortune:

In various cultures, sapphires were believed to possess protective qualities, guarding the wearer from harm and negative energies. It was believed that sapphires brought good fortune, enhanced intuition, and protected against deceit and treachery.

4. Love and Romance:

Blue sapphires have been associated with love and romance, symbolizing fidelity, sincerity, and loyalty. They have been given as tokens of love and commitment, making them popular choices for engagement rings.

5. Symbol of Heaven and Spirituality:

In some spiritual beliefs, sapphires are considered sacred stones associated with the heavens. The blue color of the gem is thought to connect the wearer with divine energies, promoting spiritual growth and inner peace.

The allure and significance of sapphires as symbols of wisdom, nobility, protection, love, and spirituality have endured for centuries, making them one of the most cherished and sought-after gemstones in the world.


Understanding the factors that can damage a sapphire is crucial for preserving its brilliance and longevity. While sapphires are durable gemstones, they still require careful handling and maintenance. By following the suggested precautions and caring for these precious gems, you can ensure that your sapphires continue to shine and bring joy for generations to come. Treat your sapphires with the respect they deserve, and they will reward you with a lifetime of enduring beauty.


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