Written by Angela Godden on 18 October 2007

Thought I'd introduce some small but interesting facts about my favourite topic, in fact any girls...Gemstones

I figure that you can't know enough about gemstones; history, fact or folklore for generations we have been fascinated by them.

A natural gemstone is a mineral, stone, or organic matter that can be cut and polished or otherwise treated for use as jewellery or other ornaments.

A precious gemstone has beauty, durability, and rarity, whereas a semiprecious gemstone has only one or two of these qualities.

Diamond Fitted Engagement Ring

A gem is a gemstone that has been cut and polished.

Diamond, corundum (ruby and sapphire), beryl (emerald and aquamarine), topaz, and opal are generally classed as precious stones. All other gemstones are usually classed as semiprecious.

Today I’d like to introduce you to the corundum family.

The corundum family consists of pure aluminium oxide, which a long time ago was caused to crystallise into beautiful and splendid gemstones by the pressure and heat in the depths of the ground. Corundum is naturally clear, but can have different colours when impurities are added. Small proportions of other elements, mainly iron and chrome, are responsible for the resulting colours and make the basically white crystals a blue, red, yellow, pink or greenish Sapphire. But this does not necessarily imply that any corundum is a sapphire.

Which stone may be termed a Sapphire? This is a question which for centuries has fuelled heated discussions among experts.

Finally agreement was achieved to call ruby-red Sapphires 'Rubies', and all other colours 'Sapphires'.

Sapphires are available in virtually all colours.

Blue Sapphires are the most valuable (the presence of trace impurities of iron and titanium is responsible for that beautiful, vibrant, deep blue colour), followed by Pink and Padparadscha Sapphires. Padparadscha Sapphires have orange pink or pink orange colouration and rival Blue Sapphires in value.

Sapphire is the Gem of Destiny. It will bring out the best within you and help make your dreams come true. Sapphires have always been associated with luck in romance. It is said to bring peace and happiness. Relieves mental depression and stimulates motivation and goal orientation. It represents faith and hope. This stone will help you with the heart and stomach. Strengthens the eyes, helps take down fever, and can help with nose bleedings. Good to wear for mental health. (I should wear more Sapphire!)

The name sapphire comes from the Latin 'sapphirus', which means blue. In the 7th Century B.C. sapphire was popular with the Etruscans, and there is later documented use in Greece, Rome and Egypt. In the 11th Century it was a celebrated stone used by both kings and clergy. By the Renaissance, it was popular among the wealthy elite. Sapphire was said to protect kings from jealousy and danger. In the 13th Century it was said to possess the power to prevent poverty.

Trace amounts of chromium gives Ruby its bright red colour. Top quality Rubies are highly prized, and in larger sizes are frequently valued above all other gemstones, including Diamonds. Rubies over two carats are extremely rare and valuable.

Considered one of the most precious and perfect gemstones, Ruby symbolises the sun, freedom and power. It is a sacred gem to the Buddhists, and are called 'tears of Buddha'. Increases energy levels and it will stimulate love if worn close to the heart. It protects sensitive natures, health and wealth, controls passions. Stimulates blood circulation, gives calm sleep and takes away nightmares. It will help you if you are suffering from sadness. It's also said to be able to ward off evil spirits, protect against poisons and act as an antidote to a snakebite... clearly a reason to wear Rubies :)

During the Middle Ages, the ruby was believed to have an inner fire that could not be concealed. By the time of the Renaissance, only the wealthiest individuals could dream of owning a ruby.

Ruby was said to be the most precious of the twelve stones God created when he created all things and a Ruby was placed on Aaron's neck by God's command. In the ancient language of Sanskrit, Ruby is called Ratnaraj, or king of precious stones. Rubies have been highly prized gemstones throughout history.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey into the history and folklore surrounding Rubies and Sapphires... AKA The Corundum Family.

What a fab family!