By Ashley Bailey
, Monday, August 07, 2006 12:00 AM
Named after the Greek word "sapphirus", meaning blue, Sapphires have long been the favorite stone for priests and kings, who considered them symbolic of wisdom and purity. The sapphire was said to represent the purity of the soul. Before and during the Middle Ages, it was worn by priests as protection from impure thoughts and temptations of the flesh. Medieval kings of Europe valued these stones for rings and brooches, believing that it protected them from harm and envy. Warriors presented their young wives with sapphire necklaces so they would remain faithful. It was believed that the stone's color would darken if worn by an adulterer or adulteress, or by an unworthy person.
Sapphires were once believed to be protection against snakes. A common belief was that a venomous snake placed in a Sapphire vessel would rapidly die! The French of the 13th century believed that sapphire transformed stupidity to wisdom, and irritability to good temper.
Sapphire is a variety of the mineral corundum. Corundum is found in every color of the rainbow, with red being designated as ruby and all other hues Sapphire. But the most prized color of Sapphire is a rich, deep blue. The Sapphire is second only to the Diamond in hardness, making it a durable gemstone for setting into jewelry.
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