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Rhapsody in Blue!
Once you figure out that you don’t want to go the diamond route, the possibilities for your engagement ring’s center stone get a lot more interesting. You can go with your birthstone (or someone else’s) but the first alternative gemstone that might come to mind, the one your jeweler is most likely to carry and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend herself, is a sapphire. Why? As a member of the corundum family of minerals, they rate very well on the Mohs scale of hardness (9 to a diamond’s 10), making them ideal for a piece of jewelry you’ll be wearing all day, every day. And while sapphires are available in every color of the rainbow (the red ones are technically rubies), the blue varieties are the most plentiful and bridal-friendly (hello “something blue”). Especially when you also consider that it’s a stone that traditionally symbolizes fidelity.
There’s no question that sapphires have a certain cachet. The gem has long been associated with nobility and royalty, from the rulers of ancient Greece and Rome who adorned themselves in sapphires as a form of protection, to more recent princess brides such as Kate Middleton (and the late Princess Diana, of course). As noted in the book, If These Jewels Could Talk…, the latter princess is said have selected her sapphire engagement ring—a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire, surrounded by solitaire diamonds, set in 18k white gold—from a selection presented by Crown Jewelers Garrard of Mayfair in 1981. As was the case when Diana’s engagement to Prince Charles was announced, Prince William’s choice for Kate—his beloved mother’s “big blue”—sparked a demand for the stone among discerning brides looking for an engagement ring that was more unique, yet still traditional, than a standard diamond design. This was in 2010 and sapphires continue to captivate; the vintage look and feel of the Diana/Kate sapphire engagement ring may also account for the recent resurgence of antique engagement rings in general.
American royalty—that is, our glamorous Old Hollywood movie stars, and stylish socialites—can also claim a special bond with sapphires. For example, when Joan Crawford became engaged to actor Franchot Tome the celebrated American jeweler Raymond C. Yard created an engagement ring featuring a 70-carat star sapphire. (A star sapphire is a sapphire that displays a phenomenon known as asterism—a mystifying cat’s eye effect that flares out in multiple directions.) And while Wallis Simpson had an emerald engagement ring, a certain sapphire and diamond bracelet figured prominently in her romance with the Duke of Windsor. Called the Jarretière, the Van Cleef & Arpels masterpiece was a gift from the Duke on the occasion of their French Civil marriage in 1937 and bears the engraving: "For our contract 18.V.37.”
A sapphire’s origin is one of the most important cost factors. The finest sapphires in the world come from Kashmir, Burma and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Other sources include Madagascar, Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, Tanzania and even good old Montana (see examples from Judi Powers and S. Kind & Co. in our edit).
The bluer the sapphire—that is, the more the color approximates a bright cornflower blue—the more valuable it is. Even so, the spectrum of blue sapphire shades spans the lighter pastel hues all the way up to deep, velvety navy and midnight blues. Bear in mind that the vast majority of blue sapphires sold today are enhanced (read: heat-treated) to improve their color profile—as long as this is disclosed, it should not be viewed as a flaw or a failing. But one way to ensure your sapphire is all-natural is to go with an antique sapphire engagement ring—because the stone pre-dates modern enhancement technology, it pretty much came out of the ground as is (and is guaranteed conflict-free).Continue to 2 of 22 below.
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From Oscar Heyman…
Platinum engagement ring with a 3.98-carat cushion-cut sapphire center stone flanked by two brilliant-cut trapezoid-shaped diamonds totaling .99 carats, $50,000, Oscar HeymanContinue to 3 of 22 below.
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From Nora Kogan...
18k yellow gold and diamond Blue Desiree ring with a sapphire center stone, $28,000, Nora KoganContinue to 4 of 22 below.
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From Miseno Ventaglio Collection…
18k white gold ring with a 4.44-carat blue sapphire center stone and 2.99 carats of diamonds, $39,000, Miseno JewelryContinue to 5 of 22 below.
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From Adel Chefridi…
Satin finish 18k yellow gold and diamond ring with a .57-carat sapphire center stone, $2,375, Adel ChefridiContinue to 6 of 22 below.
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From Marisa Perry…
Platinum and diamond ring with a 2.64-carat cushion-cut sapphire center stone, $17,400, Marisa PerryContinue to 7 of 22 below.
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From Jennie Kwon Designs…
14k yellow gold Dew ring with Ceylon sapphire center stone and diamonds, $895, Jennie Kwon DesignsContinue to 8 of 22 below.
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From Sethi Couture…
18k white gold Heritage blue sapphire and white diamond ring, $8,000, available at Quadrum GalleryContinue to 9 of 22 below.
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From Judi Powers…
14k gold ring with a bezel-set, sustainably sourced 4.55-mm Montana blue sapphire center stone and six 1-mm accent blue sapphires, from $1,145, Judi Powers JewelryContinue to 10 of 22 below.
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From Jane Taylor...
14k ruthenium-plated white gold ring with cornflower blue sapphire baguettes, $3,125, Jane TaylorContinue to 11 of 22 below.
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From Sylvie Collection…
18k white gold and diamond engagement ring with a 3.08-carat sapphire center stone, $18,430, Sylvie CollectionContinue to 12 of 22 below.
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From S. Kind & Co...
Recycled 18k white gold Snow Queen ring with a .75-carat light blue Montana sapphire center stone, Australian opal cabochons and .16 carats of vintage single-cut diamonds, $7,500, S. Kind & Co.Continue to 13 of 22 below.
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From Robert Procop…
Platinum ring with an 8.62-carat oval blue sapphire and 1.98 carats of square and round diamonds, $193,600, Robert ProcopContinue to 14 of 22 below.
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From Rebecca Overmann...
18k yellow gold and diamond Leaf Prong ring with sugarloaf cabochon sapphire, $17,895, Rebecca OvermannContinue to 15 of 22 below.
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From Jane Taylor...
14k white gold and diamond ring with a cornflower blue sapphire center stone, $15,675, Jane TaylorContinue to 16 of 22 below.
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18k custom-blended beige gold ring with.21-carats of blue sapphire, .02-carats of aquamarine and .15 carats of diamonds, $3,780, Kataoka, available at CatbirdContinue to 17 of 22 below.
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From Efva Attling…
18k yellow gold Something Blue ring with “from here to eternity” engraving and an oval sapphire center stone, $1,650, Efva AttlingContinue to 18 of 22 below.
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From Erica Courtney...
Platinum Emily Ann engagement ring with a 2.07-carat sapphire center stone and .82 carats of diamonds, $14,000, Erica CourtneyContinue to 19 of 22 below.
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From Ayva Jewelry…
18k white gold Nora band with diamonds and sapphires, $5,280, Ayva JewelryContinue to 20 of 22 below.
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18k yellow gold Triple Burst ring with blue sapphires, aquamarines and diamonds, $1,070, AzleeContinue to 21 of 22 below.
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18k white gold and diamond bespoke ring with a blue sapphire center stone, $39,500, CarelleContinue to 22 of 22 below.
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From Xiao Wang Jewelry…
18k yellow gold Galaxy ring with a natural blue sapphire center stone and natural color side diamonds, $4,980, Xiao Wang Jewelry