The sapphire is September’s birthstone, and has seen popularity since the Middle Ages, especially with historic royal and religious leaders.
But a special type of Sapphire was discovered more recently–– the Madagascar Sapphire. These sapphires were unearthed in the 1990’s.
Keep reading to find out why they’re so special!
A Brief History of Sapphires
Sapphires traditionally symbolized nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. Kings and queens from ancient Greek and Rome believed sapphires would ward off envy and harm.
Religious leaders also wore sapphires during the Middle Ages to symbolize heaven, bring spiritual enlightenment, and for worship.
Later, the sapphire came to represent love as well. You may remember the famous blue sapphire engagement ring Prince Charles proposed to Princess Di with. Prince William later proposed to Kate with the same ring in 2010.
Since then the sapphire has become one of the most popular diamond engagement ring alternatives!
Most people think of the famed brilliant blue color, but sapphires may also present in shades of pink, green, yellow, orange or purple.
What makes a Madagascar Sapphire different than just a regular sapphire?
What is a Madagascar Sapphire
A Madagascar Sapphire is simply a sapphire gemstone from the island of Madagascar. The island is located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. It’s the 4th largest island in the world (being Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo).
In 1998, a huge sapphire gemstone deposit was discovered there. This was significant because gigantic deposits are rarely found, especially present day.
As a result, an influx of newcomers flooded into Madagascar in search of gemstones. It was much like the gold rush in California circa 1849.
Madagascar sapphires are special for other reasons as well. These particular sapphires showcase supreme quality and size. High quality, exceptionally large gems are rare to find (especially in the amount found in Madagascar).
Lastly, several color variations have been found on the island. These hues range from pink, yellow, green, white, and orange (aka the infamous Padparadscha).
The rarest and most expensive sapphire is the Padparadscha. Orange sapphires are most commonly found in Sri Lanka, but a few have come out of Madagascar.
Madagascar Sapphire Mining History
Madagascar’s mining history is rather short. The island’s economy depended mostly upon agriculture until the 1990’s.
Ever heard of Madagascar vanilla? The country is the largest exporter of vanilla in the world.
While the island still exports vanilla, it also exports roughly $16.5 million dollars worth of gemstones a year. Madagascar exports rubies and emeralds in addition to sapphires. Some sources suggest that potentially 90% of the land bears gemstones.
The Gemological Institute of America states these Madagascar sapphires are likely 560-650 million years old according to literature.
Where it Started
Smaller sapphire deposits were found in southern Madagascar in the early 1990’s. A few deposits were also found in northern regions as well.
But the original massive deposits were discovered in Ilakaka in 1998, and that changed everything. Ilakaka is a tiny village in southern Madagascar.
Gemstones found in Madagascar’s southern region are of metamorphic origin and tend to be pure blue in color.
A Second Wave for Madagascar Sapphires
A second Madagascar gemstone rush occurred in 2016, when more large deposits were uncovered in the northern Corridor Ankeniheny-Zahamena.
Sapphire deposits in the north result from alluvial deposits of weathered basaltic rocks. These blue gemstones tend to have a green secondary hue.
Even more people flooded the country for a chance at wealth. According to a study done by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), more than 50,000 unlicensed small scale miners came in search of their fortune within the mines.
Over 100 gemstones weighing more than 50 carats were found within six months of the second wave.
Examples of Madagascar Sapphire Engagement Rings
Madagascar sapphires are showcased in a variety of ways. They’re often crafted into earrings, necklaces, brooches, and our favorite–– engagement rings.
We’ve designed several custom made sapphire engagement rings over the years. They’re one our favorite choices for a diamond engagement ring alternative.
Take a look at a few Madagascar Sapphire jewelry examples.
And last but not least, Princess Diana’s famous engagement ring worn by Princess Kate. It’s not technically a Madagascar Sapphire, but it’s gorgeous none-the-less!
Are you interested in creating an engagement ring with a loose sapphire from our inventory? Contact Sergio@jfjco.com to schedule an appointment and find the perfect diamond today.
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