From the gobstopper-sized Star of Bombay gifted to silent star Mary Pickford by her beau, Douglas Fairbanks to the classic engagement ring worn by Princess Diana (and now sported on the finger Kate Middleton, duchess of Cambridge), sapphires have long-served as bold gestures of love. “They are a wonderful alternative to diamonds as a stone representing a marriage or union because they can withstand the test of time and wear,” says jeweler Nicole Landaw, who has fallen under the spell of the stone.
But it’s not only its durability that gives this precious stone its enduring appeal. “Sapphire colors can have a depth and intensity that semi-precious stones don’t have,” says Landaw, speaking to its vivid rainbow of hues (colorless, too), to which jewelry buff Levi Higgs, archivist and social media manager for David Webb, can also attest. “Obviously everyone loves a Ceylon or Kashmir, because they are the most deep velvety blue, and thus the most expensive typically,” he says, while noting the beauty of American sapphires—specifically the Yogo Gulch Montana sapphires that were discovered by George F. Kunz of Tiffany & Co. in the 19th century. “They are cornflower blue and perfect.” Plus, “I also love orange, gray and purple sapphires.”
It’s this wide-ranging spectrum of shades that Landaw seeks to spotlight with a selection of sapphire-driven pieces from her namesake line making its debut at August. Size, she says, doesn’t always matter. “Even when they are small, they are still wonderfully intense. They don’t require size or incredible depth to show off their color. This quality makes it much easier to design with them.”
While it’s hard to play favorites, Landaw does have an affinity for Montana sapphires, fair-mined in the U.S. (“Who doesn’t love a domestic precious stone? I’m proud of an American gem.”) Landaw uses stones cut by her Brazilian lapidary, which merges the best of both worlds: “very affordable American rough material and Brazilian stone cutting talent,” says the artisan, who handpicked stones in shades loved by her August clientele—“watery, dreamy, oceanic blues and greens”—for her upcoming works, including a riff on a tennis’ bracelet featuring a long strand of very mixed shapes.
No matter the color, cut or size,” it’s a strong and powerful stone and radiates sophistication,” says Higgs.