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Antique Genuine Natural Burmese Five and Three-Quarter Carat Blue Star Sapphire Oval. Mounted into high quality solid 14kt yellow gold (not cheap gold electroplate).
CLASSIFICATION: Cabochon Blue Star Sapphire Oval with Handcut Natural White Zircon Accent Gemstones.
ORIGIN: Sapphire: Mogok, Burma (present day Myanmar). 19th Century. White Zircon: 19th Century Russia. Chain and pendant setting contemporary.
SIZE: Length: 10mm. Width: 8mm. Depth: 6mm. All measurements approximate.
WEIGHT: 5.71 carats.
NOTES: Default chain is gold electroplate 16, 18, 20 or 24 inch (provided free). 14kt gold fill and solid 14kt gold chains in lengths from 18 to 24 inches are available upon request.
DETAIL: In the world of the ancient Mediterranean (including the Greeks, Romans, Persians, Hebrews, and the various Indo-European Celtic tribes), priests and sorcerers honored the sapphire above all other gems, believing that sapphire enabled them to interpret oracles and foretell the future. Medieval sorcerers believed that sapphire enabled them to hear and understand the most obscure oracles. Not only did sapphire help to get in touch with astral and psychic realms, but the stone also provided protection for those who took those journeys. On the flip side, Medieval populations believed that wearing a sapphire as a talisman was an antidote to black magic and effects of evil spirits, and provided protection against sorcery. It was believed to banish evil spirits and send negative spells back to the sender. Sapphires have been since ancient times one of the most highly valued of all gemstones, and references to the gemstone date back to about 800 B.C. Here’s a gorgeous, richly colored natural dark navy blue sapphire precious gemstone from Mogok, Burma. The gemstone was hand crafted and finished by a 19th century Russian artisan, part of an heritage renown for the production of the elaborate gemstones and jewelry of the Czars of Medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian Russia. The result is an exquisite and incredibly richly colored precious gemstone with lots of depth and gorgeous tone.
Known as a "star" sapphire because of an optical effect known as an "asterism"; oriented crystal inclusions cause this six-rayed-star light effect (the asterism) to form on the surface of these beautiful precious gemstones. Star sapphires have been produced in Mogok, Burma in limited quantities for centuries. They are perhaps 100 times as rare as an ordinary sapphire. The highest quality specimens will be more transparent, lower quality specimens more opaque. Higher quality gemstones will exhibit a more pronounced asterism, lower quality specimens will not. Lower quality specimens will be heavily included, higher quality specimens will have fewer, smaller inclusions. Good quality blue star sapphires are in high demand, and can be quite costly, consequentially, many of the star sapphires sold at retail are synthetic – check the fine print!
This is definitely a better quality specimen, the star is simply fabulous! However, the gemstone is NOT flawless. There are several minor surface flaws which though not visible to the cursory inspect of the casual admirer, are visible upon close scrutiny or when the gemstone is examined in a loupe or for instance, in these photo enlargements. Also when under magnification the gemstone shows the unmistakable characteristics of having been hand crafted. However the coarseness of the 19th century finish is considered appealing to most gemstone collectors, and is not considered a detriment, or detract from the value of a gemstone. These characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, most serious collectors consider such gemstones more desirable, possessed of greater character and uniqueness when compared to today's cookie-cutter mass-produced machine-tumbled gemstones. Unlike today’s computer controlled machine produced gemstones, the cut and finish of a gemstone such as this is the legacy of an artisan who lived two centuries ago. The setting is of contemporary origin. It is a high quality setting manufactured by one of the USA’s leading semi-custom mount producers. It is constructed of solid 14kt gold, and can be reset into sterling silver if requested. The default chain is gold electroplated 24 inch. However we do have 14kt solid gold and 14kt gold fill chains available in lengths between 16 and 24 inches available upon request.
The accent gemstones are handcrafted, round, natural white zircon which were not only mined in Russia, they were also hand cut in Russia in the late 19th century. Historically this colorless form of natural Zircon, known as “Matara diamond”, has been very costly as Zircon comes very close to diamonds in fire and brilliancy due to its high refractive index. In Europe in the Middle Ages zircon was also worn by travelers as a protective amulet, and was believed to ward off lightning strikes. These gorgeous, sparkling, diamond white zircon gemstones are from Russia, and were hand crafted and faceted by a 19th century Russian artisan, part of an heritage renown for the production of the elaborate gemstones and jewelry of the Czars of Medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian Russia. These zircon gemstones are crystal clear, flawless semi-precious gemstones with virtually all the fire and brilliance of diamonds. The faceted cut is a coarse precursor to what eventually became known in the industry as a “brilliant cut” round, the contemporary finish generally given to round diamonds. Cut and faceted just like a diamond, they really do look just like diamonds. They are truly very beautiful, natural gemstone, and will easily fool most anyone, even many jewelers, into believing that they are diamonds. High quality natural semi-precious zircon is exceeding difficult to distinguish from the highest quality diamonds. In fact zircon was used for hundreds of years as a diamond substitute – and many of the royal gemstone from many of Europe’s most prestigious Renaissance-era collections turned out to be zircon.
The sapphire gemstone itself has great luster and a wonderful star and to the cursory inspection of the casual admirer, the gemstone is without flaw. However if you examine the gemstone very intently, even with the naked eye and particularly in these photo enlargements, you can see that the gemstone is not absolutely without blemish. Of course the same may said about almost any natural gemstone. An absolutely flawless gemstone simply is not the rule in nature. Most absolutely flawless gemstones will upon close examination be revealed to be synthetic, as perfect gemstones are the realm of laboratory-produced gemstones, not Mother Nature. You might also notice under magnification occasional irregularities in the cut and finish. Of course, these characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, you must also consider that two centuries ago the mining techniques even possible then, let alone in practice, did not allow the ultra deep mining operations which are so commonplace today.
Keep in mind two centuries ago mankind was more or less limited to surface deposits or near surface deposits of gemstones. Higher quality gemstones which today are routinely mined from beneath hundreds of meters, even kilometers beneath the earth's surface, were simply inaccessible then. For these reasons antique gemstones must be appreciated as antiques first, gemstones second. The relatively superlative quality of contemporary gemstones routinely mined from deep beneath the earth's surface today were simply not accessible two centuries ago, or at least, only rarely so. However for most, the unique nature and character of antique gemstones such as this more than makes up for miniscule blemishes and cutting imperfections which are inherent in antique, hand-cut gemstones, and which are by and large, are only visible under high magnification.
SAPPHIRE HISTORY: Sapphires have been since ancient times one of the most highly valued of all gemstones, and references to the gemstone date back to about 800 B.C. In the ancient Mediterranean world (including the Greeks, Romans, Persians, Hebrews, and the various Indo-European Celtic tribes), priests and sorcerers honored the sapphire above all other gems. They believed that the sapphire enabled them to interpret oracles and foretell the future. Sapphire is also the original “true blue”, the gem of fidelity and of the soul. In the ancient world, a gift of a sapphire was a pledge of trust, honesty, purity, and loyalty. The oldest sapphire jewelry unearthed by archaeologists has been of Etruscan origin, about sixth century B.C. The Greeks and Romans are known to have worn sapphires from Ceylon, as described by writers from those times. Though some argue that the name sapphire is derived from its association with the planet and ancient deity Saturn (the name can be roughly be translated to mean “dear to the planet Saturn” in many different languages), most linguists and scholars agree that the name "sapphire" comes from the Latin "sapphirus" and the Greek "sappheiros", which translates to "blue" in both languages. The name sapphire is also a derivative of the ancient Hebrew and Persian word for "blue" as well.
To the ancient Romans however, the word "sapphirus" actually referred to lapis lazuli, another blue gemstone. According to Pliny, the first century Roman naturalist, what the Romans called blue sapphire (“cyanus”, from the Greek “cyan”, or “blue”) translates to "hyacinth"; the green sapphire was "emerald", and the purple sapphire was "amethyst". However the “Saturn” origin theory is appealing in that in ancient Rome Saturn was a major god presiding over agriculture and the harvest time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of abundance and peace by many Roman authors, a mythical age when Saturn was said to have ruled. In remembrance and celebration of that age, a great (week-long) feast called Saturnalia was held throughout the Roman Empire during the winter months around the time of the winter solstice. During Saturnalia, roles of master and slave were reversed, moral restrictions loosened, and the rules of etiquette ignored. It is thought that the festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia were the roots of the carnival ("Mardi Gras" in the USA). Roman depictions of Saturn generally showed the god with a sickle in his left hand and a bundle of wheat in his right. In the medieval world Saturn was known as the Roman god of agriculture, justice and strength.
The ancient Persians believed that the Earth was imbedded into a gigantic blue Sapphire stone, and the sky reflected its beautiful color. They referred to the sapphire as "the gem of the heavens”. In ancient Persia, ground sapphire was used as an all purpose medicine. One ancient recipe to enhance eyesight was to powder the stone and mix it with vinegar. The same recipe was used to treat nosebleeds. Sapphires were also used to treat fevers and rheumatism. When treating boils and external ulcers, they were ground and mixed with milk. The paste was then applied to the afflicted area. Ancient Hebrew legends state that the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written were of blue sapphire, and biblical accounts record that King Solomon wore a great sapphire ring. Monarchs of the ancient world wore sapphires around their necks as a powerful talisman protecting them from harm and attracting divine favor. Archaeological finds tell us that Ceylon is more than likely to be the source for sapphire in the classical world. In ancient Ceylon it was believed that star sapphire (a semi-opalescent gemstone extremely popular Victorian-era jewelry) served as a protective amulet and a guard against witchcraft. Celanese sapphire would have reached the classical Mediterranean cultures via the ancient trading routes that crossed present day Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan to India. Distribution within Europe was achieved using the extensive Roman road network which extended to all the corners of the Roman Empire. It is also possible that some of the sapphire traded in the classical Mediterranean originated in India.
As the centuries passed European royalty came to favor sapphire believing the stone would provide protection from harm. Throughout Medieval Europe, the sapphire was thought to give the wearer strengthened vision, including visions of the future. In particular during the 11th and 12th centuries, sorcerers honored the sapphire more than any other stone as it enabled them to hear and understand the most obscure oracles. Not only did sapphire help to get in touch with astral and psychic realms, but the stone also provided protection for those who took those journeys. Sapphire was regarded as an antidote to black magic and effects of evil spirits, and provided protection against sorcery. It was believed to banish evil spirits and send negative spells back to the sender. Sapphires were also used as a talisman by medieval travelers, who believed that a sapphire would protect the wearer from poisonous creatures, kill snakes hiding nearby, and provide advance warning against hidden dangers. It was believed that if a sapphire were engraved with the figure of a man or a ram, that sapphire amulet would cure all illness and elevate the owner to a high position.
Sapphire was also held to be a symbol of truth and constancy, and in the 12th century, the Bishop of Rennes and Pope Innocent III (who launched the infamous Fourth Crusade which sacked Constantinople) praised the blue of the sapphire as representing heaven, and initiated its use in ecclesiastical rings and other ecclesiastical jewelry as symbolic of the Pontific title and the Seal of Mysteries. One of the most ancient and well-known sapphires belonged to the England’s Edward the Confessor. According to legend the king met a poor man begging alms. He did not have cash so he gave away his sapphire ring. Many years later, some pilgrims from Jerusalem came to him and gave him back his ring, saying that soon the King would meet the favored beggar in Heaven. It turned out to be true; Edward died soon after that meeting, and his sapphire was buried with him in his grave. Two centuries later his grave was opened, the sapphire recovered, and to everybody's astonishment, the King's body was still intact. After that, the miraculous sapphire was given a cross-shape cut and was placed in the Westminster Abbey where the miracles continued; the stone was known to cure the blind as well as paralytics and epileptics. The “Sapphire of St. Edward” now resides in the Crown of the British Empire next to another famous sapphire, the one of Charles II.
Another unique sapphire can be found among the state insignia of Russia. A 200-carat stone from the Ceylon is set in the top of the orb, which is now kept in the Kremlin Treasury. The Muslim world also has its own sacred sapphire, the “Eye of Allah,” a gemstone that once belonged to the famous 18th century Persian conqueror Nader Shah. Medieval European populations believed wearing a sapphire suppressed negative thoughts, and possessed curative powers over natural ailments. Sapphires were used as medicine for treatment of eye diseases and as an antidote for poison. When touched against the eye, it was believed to remove impurities and restored sight. Ivan the Terrible of Russia attributed to sapphire strength of the heart and muscles, endowing the wearer with courage. Sapphires are a member of the corundum family, and close relative to the ruby. In fact, a ruby is simply a red sapphire. The sapphire is considered one of the most valuable of precious stones. The most highly prized were the "cornflower blue" sapphires known as "Kashmir" sapphires, from Northern India. Unfortunately the deposits were exhausted in the late 1800’s. The principal contemporary sources of sapphire are Russia, Siam, Ceylon, Burma, Africa, and Australia. The Museum of Natural History in New York is home to the one of the most notorious sapphires in the world, the “Star of India,” a star sapphire of 563 carats.
Throughout the history of the ancient world, gemstones were believed capable of curing illness and providing protection. Found in Egypt dated 1500 B. C., the "Papyrus Ebers" offered one of most complete therapeutic manuscripts containing prescriptions using gemstones and minerals. Gemstones were not only valued for their medicinal and protective properties, but also for educational and spiritual enhancement. In these as well as other ancient cultures, it was believed that sapphires would aid in ridding oneself of unwanted thoughts, and that they would bring joy and peace of mind, opening the mind to beauty and intuition. Medicinally sapphire was believed to promote general health, and was oftentimes ground up and consumed. Sapphire was believed to be effective in reducing fevers, protected against mental illness, and to sharpen eyesight. They were also believed to cure ulcers. Psychologically sapphire was believed to aid the maintenance of inner peace, a healthy mental state, to calm nerves, and to promote mental clarity, helping with focus and concentration. As such they were widely used as a remedy for mental and nervous disorders.
On the metaphysical side, sapphires were regarded as a stone of prosperity, sustaining the gifts of life, fulfilling the dreams and desires of the wearer, and eliminating frustration. The sapphire has historically been identified with chastity, piety, and repentance, and was believed to foster wisdom and truth, and to increase perception and the understanding of justice. It was believed conducive to finding peace of mind and serenity, and to promote a life of sincerity, helping preserve one’s innocence while learning life’s truths. Sapphires were also associated with romantic love, representing fidelity, romantic devotion, truth, compatibility, commitment, and mutual understanding. It was also worn as a talisman with the belief that it would increase one’s faith, hope, and joy, and would keep thoughts pure and heavenly. Sapphires were also used as talismans for protection, to ward off diseases, and to bring peace, happiness, and intelligence. Sapphire was known as the stone of serenity, helping one to meditate by providing mental calming. As a tool for self improvement, sapphires were regarded to be a powerful and transformative gemstone which would help the wearer connect to the universe, opening the wearer’s internal and spiritual self to the powers of the universe. Sapphire was also thought to increase communication with, connection to, and awareness of spirit guides, or angels.
ZIRCON HISTORY: Not to be confused with synthetic “cubic zirconium”, zircon is a natural gemstone known to mankind for thousands of years. The word “zircon” originated in the 18th century from the Persian word "zargon", which means "gold colored", due to the yellow color of the zircon gemstones found there. In ancient history the first references zircon are in Hindu mythology, many thousands of years ago in a poem about the “Kalpa” tree, described as a glowing tree draped with gemstones, with leaves made of zircons. In the ancient world yellow zircon was called "hyacinth", from the flower. In ancient Greek Mythology Hyacinth was a young and beautiful young man and was loved by the God Apollo. One day Apollo and Hyacinth were throwing a discus. Forgetting Hyacinth was merely mortal, Apollo threw the discus with all his strength. When Hyacinth tried to catch the discus it killed him. Drops of Hyacinth’s blood fell to the ground and colored by Apollo’s tears, became hyacinth flowers. Petrified, the flowers became hyacinth (zircon) gemstones.
Zircon was frequently referred to as hyacinth in the Bible as well, particularly as one of the twelve gemstones on the breastplate of the High Priest Aaron, representing the twelve tribes of ancient Israel. Zircon was also mentioned in the Bible as the stone given to Moses in Ezekiel, and as one of the "foundation stones" of post-apocalyptic Jerusalem's city walls in Revelations. According to Jewish legend, the angel sent to the Garden of Eden to watch over Adam and Eve was named Zircon. Many ancient medical texts from quite a number of Mediterranean cultures refer to zircon as a sleeping aid, and that it was used to prevent nightmares. It was also believed to lose it sparkle and luster at the approach of danger, thus warning the wearer of peril. In the Middle Ages red zircon was believed to prevent pregnancy, and was worn as a talisman in the ancient world by artists, travelers, and merchants. In Medieval Europe zircon was also worn by travelers as a protective amulet, and was believed to ward off lightning strikes. It was also believed to drive away plagues, evil spirits, and nightmares, and in the Middle Ages, zircon was worn to promote riches, honor and wisdom.
Zircon has been mined in Ceylon since classical antiquity (at least 2,000 years), and there are records of its use in sixth century Italy and Greece. Zircon occurs in a rainbow of colors including blue, yellow, green, brown, orange, red and colorless. Blue zircon and colorless zircon remain the most sought after and costly forms of zircon. Blue zircon was immensely popular in the 1880's and was used extensively in Victorian jewelry. Historically the colorless form of zircon, known as “Matara diamond”, has been the most popular and the most costly. This colorless form of zircon looks more like diamond than any other natural stone due the high refractive index of zircon. These physical properties cause zircon to come very close to diamonds in fire and brilliancy. Colorless zircon is occasionally confused with "cubic zirconia" due to the fact that both have been used a substitutes for diamonds. Cubic zirconia is a man-made synthetic gemstone. Zircon is a natural gemstone.
Zircons are currently mined in Norway, Austria, Germany, France, the Ural Mountains of Russia, Ceylon, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, Viet Nam, Korea, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, Nigeria, Madagascar, Mozambique, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, and also in the United States and Canada. Testing of zircons from Western Australia indicate they formed (in a water rich environment) 4.4 billion years ago, making them the oldest material ever dated on Earth. An even older example was found in a large meteorite in Chile. The oldest thing scientists have ever examined, that zircon formed at least 4.6 billion years ago in the swirl of dust and rocks that became the planets without our solar system.
Throughout the history of the ancient world, gemstones were believed capable of curing illness, possessed of valuable metaphysical properties, and to provide protection. Found in Egypt dated 1500 B. C., the "Papyrus Ebers" offered one of most complete therapeutic manuscripts containing prescriptions using gemstones and minerals. Gemstones were not only valued for their medicinal and protective properties, but also for educational and spiritual enhancement. In the ancient world it was believed that zircon enhanced emotional health, helped to heal grief, remove melancholy, restore appetite, cure insomnia, prevent nightmares, and enhance self-esteem. Its healing properties, though principally associated with emotional and physical balance, also was believed to increase ones hardiness and to facilitate continuity in all endeavors. It was used as a talisman for travelers to protect them from all sickness and evils during the long journey.
Modern practitioners still “prescribe” zircon as a talisman to protect air travelers, and is still believed helpful to those suffering from low self-esteem come to better accept themselves, and to cleanse the wearer of old traumas, doubts and sadness without being overwhelmed by the accompanying emotions. Along those lines zircon is said to bestow upon its wearers confidence, optimism, and good spirits. It is also used to improve mental abilities, and is believed to encourage interest in science. Zircon is said to be of help for varicose veins, relieving pain, blisters and issues pertaining to male reproductive organs. It is also believed to stimulate appetite, and so considered useful for those afflicted with eating disorders; as well as aid with gastric and intestinal disorders, including constipation.
SHIPPING & RETURNS/REFUNDS: Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are fully insured against loss, and our shipping rates include the cost of this coverage (through stamps.com, Shipsaver.com, the USPS, UPS, or Fed-Ex). International tracking is provided free by the USPS for certain countries, other countries are at additional cost. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per item so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with.
If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked 30-day return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price; 1) less our original shipping/insurance costs, 2) less non-refundable PayPal/eBay payment processing fees. Please note that PayPal does NOT refund fees. Even if you “accidentally” purchase something and then cancel the purchase before it is shipped, PayPal will not refund their fees. So all refunds for any reason, without exception, do not include PayPal/eBay payment processing fees (typically between 3% and 5%) and shipping/insurance costs (if any). If you’re unhappy with PayPal and eBay’s “no fee refund” policy, and we are EXTREMELY unhappy, please voice your displeasure by contacting PayPal and/or eBay. We have no ability to influence, modify or waive PayPal or eBay policies.
ABOUT US: We travel to Russia each year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from one of the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers, the area between Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, Russia. From all corners of Siberia, as well as from India, Ceylon, Burma and Siam, gemstones have for centuries gone to Yekaterinburg where they have been cut and incorporated into the fabulous jewelry for which the Czars and the royal families of Europe were famous for. My wife grew up and received a university education in the Southern Urals of Russia, just a few hours away from the mountains of Siberia, where alexandrite, diamond, emerald, sapphire, chrysoberyl, topaz, demantoid garnet, and many other rare and precious gemstones are produced. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, antique gemstones are commonly unmounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset.
Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them centuries old. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting. Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today.
Our interest in the fabulous history of Russian gemstones and the fabulous jewelry of the Czar’s led to further education and contacts in India, Ceylon, and Siam, other ancient centers of gemstone production and finishing. We have a number of “helpers” (family members, friends, and colleagues) in Russia and in India who act as eyes and ears for us year-round, and in reciprocity we donate a portion of our revenues to support educational institutions in Russia and India. Occasionally while in Russia, India, Siam, and Ceylon we will also find such good buys on unique contemporary gemstones and jewelry that we will purchase a few pieces to offer to our customers here in America. These are always offered clearly labeled as contemporary, and not antiques – just to avoid confusion. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $2 fee for mailing under separate cover. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."
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