The September birthstone is one of the most stunning gemstones known to mankind. Sapphires have been feared and reviled, celebrated and revered and even used as a gateway to the spirit world. But not once in their entire history have sapphires stepped out of the spotlight.
The 8 Most Popular Sapphires are…
- Rockefeller Sapphire
- Stuart Sapphire
- The Blue Belle of Asia
- Blue Giant of the Orient
- The George IV Sapphires
- The Star of India
- Queen of Asia
- Diana’s Sapphire Engagement Ring
Most Famous Sapphires and Their Stories in Brief
Let’s take a look at some of the most famous sapphires in the world.
1. Rockefeller Sapphire
The 62.02-carat, rectangular-cut natural unheated & untreated cornflower blue sapphire is one of the most famous sapphires in the world. American Tycoon John D. Rockefeller Jr. purchased it directly from the Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan.
The deal was brokered by the Rockefeller family’s private jeweler, Raymond Yard. Both of Rockefeller’s wives wore it till the day they died. In 1971 the Rockefeller Sapphire was auctioned in Zurich. It was resold a few more times before its last appearance at Christie’s New York in April 2001, where it sold for $3 million.
2. Stuart Sapphire
The British Royals have had a longstanding association with blue sapphires but the Stuart Sapphire is one of the most important as it is set in the Imperial State Crown of Britain.
The cabochon-cut sapphire weighing 104 carats was acquired by the Queen’s ancestors in the 14th century. While the history of its acquisition is quite muddled it was probably unearthed in Asia.
3. The Blue Belle of Asia
The Blue belle of Asia was auctioned for $17 million at Christie’s in 2004. It set the record for the most expensive sapphire ever sold at public auction. It was originally bought in 1937 and intended as a coronation gift to Queen Elizabeth II. However, it never ended up in the Queen’s possession.
The stone has changed ownership many times in the past century. It is the centerpiece of a majestic diamond necklace featuring nine tassels adorned with a string of small white diamonds. Each tassel terminates in a larger oval-cut white diamond.
4. Blue Giant of the Orient
Great mystery surrounds the world’s largest faceted blue sapphire. After the gem was discovered in Sri Lanka in 1907, the ring was bought by an American collector and vanished completely from the public eye.
It took nearly a century for it to resurface, at a 2004 Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction, where it became the largest faceted sapphire ever to be auctioned, only to be quickly claimed and hidden away once again.
5. The George IV Sapphires
While the Stuart sapphire represents the monarchy, the George IV sapphires are from Lilibet’s own past and therefore they are one of her favourite jewelry items. The sapphire and diamond encrusted necklace and earrings were gifted to the queen by her father on the occasion of her wedding to Prince Phillip in 1947.
It is also referred to as the Victorian Suite because the piece is believed to have been made somewhere in the middle of the 19th century. The queen added her own touch to this relic of the past by having the necklace shortened in 1952. She had the largest stone removed and set in a separate pendant.
6. The Star of India
The star of India is one of the largest star sapphires in the world. It weighs 563.35 carats and is considered unusual because it has naturally occurred stars on both sides of the stone.
It was discovered in Sri Lanka and is currently housed in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The Star of India was stolen in 1964. Fortunately, it was located months later in Miami and promptly returned to the Museum.
7. Queen of Asia
The Queen of Asia Sapphire is the world’s largest natural corundum blue sapphire and the newest member of the ‘Most Famous Sapphires’ club. It was recently discovered in Sri Lanka’s famous gem city, Ratnapura, by some oblivious men trying to dig a well.
It weighs an astonishing 310 kgs and you might want to sit down for the next one: While the experts are still figuring the details out, The Queen of Asia is believed to be worth over $100 million.
8. Diana’s Sapphire Engagement Ring
Princess Diana’s engagement ring has been in the public eye since the 19-year-old Spencer slipped it onto her tender finger in 1981. The 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire and diamond ring became the most famous piece of jewelry that year as its owner became the most famous woman in the world. Diana had picked it herself from a selection of twelve rings presented to her by the Crown jeweler.
Thirty years later, the ring came back into the limelight when Diana’s son, Prince William presented it to his fiancée Kate Middleton. Diana had a very close relationship with her two sons and her loss was a big blow to the young princes. In an interview, William said it was his way of including his mother in the happy occasion.