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Sapphires

Named after the Greek word "sapphirus", meaning blue, Sapphires have long been a favorite among priests and kings, who considered them symbolic of wisdom and purity. These gemstones are prominent among the British Crown Jewels, and Prince Charles chose this as the engagement stone for his fiancée, Princess Diana.

I
n ancient times, Sapphires were thought to be protective against envy, and even against poisoning. A common belief was that a venomous snake placed in a Sapphire vessel would rapidly die! Ground to a powder, the blue stone was believed to cure colic, rheumatism and mental illness, and to strengthen eyesight.

During their history Sapphires have been the most venerated amongst all nations, and particularly in the East it is the stone most frequently consecrated to the various gods and deities. Amongst Buddhists it is believed to produce a desire for prayer, and is regarded as the Stone of Stones to give Spiritual Light, and to bring Peace and Happiness as long as the wearer of a sapphire leads a moral life.

In the early days of the Christian Church, the stones and metal used in making the ring of a Bishop was left very much to the taste of the individual, but in the twelfth century Pope Innocent III decreed that these rings should be made of pure gold and then set with an un-engraved stone. The Sapphire was the gem which was selected, as possessing the virtues and qualities essential to its dignified position as the badge of the Pope.

The Jews also held sapphires in high veneration, the seal-stone in the ring of King Solomon was said to have been a Sapphire. In Exodus xxiv. 10, the description of a manifestation of Jehovah is as follows:

"There was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were
the body of heaven in his clearness."

During the Middle Ages the qualities attributed to Sapphires were that they preserved Chastity, discovered Fraud and Treachery, protected from Poison, Plague, Fever, and Skin Diseases and had great power in resisting black magic. In smallpox sapphires were thought to preserve the eyes from injury if rubbed on them. It is recorded that in the Church of Old St. Paul's, London, there was a famous Sapphire given by "Richard de Preston, Citizen and Grocer of that city, for the cure of infirmities in the eyes of those thus afflicted who might resort to it."

Cloudy Sapphires are sometimes found which owing to a peculiarity in their composition show six rays of light running from the top of the stone. These are known as Asteria, or Star Stones. Star sapphires were believed to be powerful for the procuring of favours, for bringing good fortune and as protection against witchcraft. Star Sapphires were also valued in Ancient History as a love charm. The wife of the Emperor Charlemagne is reputed to have possessed a very powerful charm consisting of two rough Sapphires and a portion of the Holy Cross, made by the Magi in the train of the Emperor of the East. This Talisman, or love charm, was made for the purpose of keeping the Emperor's affections constant to his wife. The sapphire charm worked so well that his love endured after her death.

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