Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 202 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SAPPHIRE,1 a blue transparent variety of corundum, or native alumina, much valued as a gem-stone. It is essentially the same mineral as ruby, from which it differs chiefly in colour. The colour of the normal sapphire varies from the palest blue to deep indigo, the most esteemed tint being that of the blue cornflower. Many of the crystals are parti-coloured, the blue being distributed in patches in a colourless or yellow stone; but by skilful cutting, the deep-coloured portion may be caused to impart colour to the entire gem. As the sapphire crystallizes in the hexagonal system it is dichroic, but in pale stones this character may not be well marked. In a deep-coloured stone the colour may be resolved, by the dichroscope, into an ultramarine 1 Indirectly from Gr. o&orq5uupos, but there seems no doubt that this term, like the Hebrew sapir of the Old Testament, was formerly applied to what is now called lapis lazuli; the modern sapphire was probably known as u&xwOos (hyacinthus). colour. It is a silicate, containing aluminium, magnesium and iron, brought originally from Greenland, and since found in a rock from the Vizagapatam district in India. (F. W. R.*)
End of Article: SAPPHIRE
SAPPHO (7th–6th centuries B.C.)

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