There are many questions on the internet about sapphire’s symbolism and meaning. Interest in this topic is not new. It has a very long pedigree. Some of the questions relate to healing powers of various kinds. Others wonder whether sapphires can confer virtues like calmness, wisdom, and fidelity. Speculations of an astrological nature are extensive. It is a big subject with many questions and answers, and it occupies a lot of space on the internet, much of which is repetitive.
It is not the purpose of this article to repeat or amplify the timeworn, familiar themes cited above. Instead, the focus will shift to how sapphire symbolism has been used to represent spiritual realities. It will speak to frequently asked questions like, “What is the spiritual significance of sapphire?” “Is sapphire a religious stone?” “Why are sapphires mentioned in the Bible?”
Although these questions have been addressed to all kinds of gemstones, sapphires appear to have pride of place as exquisite symbols of spiritual reality. Why this is so is a most interesting question.
The fact that sapphires have symbolized spiritual realities since ancient times and continue to do so today adds to the intrigue. The discussion which follows will shed some light on the subject.
II. Sapphire Symbolism and the Human Soul
One of the most common spiritual realities sapphires symbolize is the human soul, or, to be more exact, the perfected, spiritualized soul. The soul is sanctified, animated by spirit, and conformed to a heavenly will. People possessing such souls are described as “pure in heart.” Souls such as this are considered rare. They are also described as beautiful, indestructible, and immortal. Some have appeared radiant to others as if reflecting light from within. Moses descending Mt Sinai and Jesus on Tabor are the best-known biblical examples.
The first of these soulful characteristics is rarity. Sanctified, spirit-led souls are rare. People in possession of such souls are called saints. Few things are more rare than saints. Transparent sapphire gemstones are also rare. This is so even though the minerals sapphires consist of are not rare. Sapphire is a form of the mineral corundum, a compound of aluminum and oxygen, neither of which is rare. The two minerals represent more than 50% of the earth’s crust. Corundum is abundant, but sapphires are rare. In like manner, there are many souls but few saints.
Sapphires are beautiful gemstones. Some are more beautiful than others, but even included and overly dark stones are not free for the taking. In the same way, the saintly soul symbolizes something of beauty. So and so has a beautiful soul, is a common expression. But like sapphire’s uneven beauty, not all souls are equally beautiful. And just as less beautiful sapphires retain value, less beautiful souls also have value. An important and enduring belief in many parts of the world is that all souls have dignity and value.
Sapphires are relatively impervious to damage. In large part, this is due to their hardness. The only natural gemstone that can scratch a sapphire is a diamond. They retain their beauty with normal wear much better than most other gemstones. The word often used to describe this feature in perfected souls is steadfast. Steadfast souls are relatively immune to damage from life experiences and contact with others. Their beauty persists through good times and bad.
Sapphires are minerals, so they do not have a defined life span in the same sense that animals and vegetables do. This is likely one of the reasons why sapphires symbolize immortality. Many philosophers from ancient times to the present and many religions have taught that human souls do not have a physical existence. Souls cannot be weighed or measured. They are spiritual entities and, therefore, by nature, immortal.
Transparent polished sapphires are radiant. Radiance means that they appear to generate their own light. Perfected souls are also described as radiating light from within. Two biblical examples of this phenomenon were cited earlier. Reports of this phenomenon have occurred throughout history, including modern times. Radiance is a feature intentionally illustrated in religious icons, particularly those written in Byzantine style. Sapphires have historically been used as generalized symbols of the spiritual world because they are often associated with blue. Blue is the color of the sky; it is the color of heaven, the color of the world of the spirit.
VIII. Colors of Sapphires
However, color is not limited to blue. Sapphires come in various colors, including white, green, yellow, and pink. Each of these colors is conventionally symbolic in the following ways. White symbolizes purity; green refers to the life of the natural world, and yellow refers to the sun, the source of life. Pink symbolizes love. Sapphires have a symbolic relationship to all of these things.
It is exciting that the color teal has become very popular in the past decade. The best-known sources of teal-colored sapphire in the United States are Australia and Montana. Teal is a mixture of blue and green. Some stones appear greener, others more blue, but to be a teal, it must have some proportion of both. These two colors of sapphire symbolize the spiritual world and the natural world. Stated otherwise, the two colors symbolize spirit and matter. In this sense, teal-colored sapphires can symbolize the incarnation, the central idea in Christianity. The word became flesh. Spirit became matter without ceasing to be spirit.
These last points are being made in the hope that some sapphire lovers will see their sapphires in a “new light.” This “new light” could give them a greater appreciation for what they have and help them see their sapphires as symbols pointing to more meaning and perhaps more mystery than they had in the past.