You’ve probably heard of “the big three” or “the big three gemstones”, but what are they and why are they considered “big”? The big three gemstones refer to the three most valuable gemstones in the world that can be considered precious – aside from diamonds, of course and some spinels. They are ranked the top three (under diamonds) on the Mohs scale, the index of measurement for a gem’s hardness wherein each stone on the scale is harder than the one below it. First is diamond, then come Sapphire, Emerald, and Ruby: The Big Three.
There are several reasons as to why The Big Three are considered precious gemstones whereas other gemstones are considered only to be semiprecious. Firstly, as mentioned before, is their hardness where sapphires and rubies are some of the hardest gemstones on the Mohs scale with an index of 9. Emeralds are 7.5 – 8 which is pretty high, but they are quite brittle and difficult to work with when it comes to jewelry making. In comparison, other [semiprecious] gemstones have a lower hardness level such as topaz (8), amethyst (7), citrine (7) etc. Other factors come into play regarding the value of the big three gemstones, such as rarity and size, although other semi precious gems may be more expensive due to the rarity of their color as combined with size. The cut of the gem will also affect its value. Depending on the size, cut, quality, and intensity of color in sapphires, emeralds, and ruby, one can expect to pay upward of $20,000 per carat.
1. Sapphire is a variety of Corundum first reported in 1747 by J.G. Wallerius, who named the stone Sapphirus meaning “blue stone”. Despite this late “discovery”, sapphire’s use dates back to 2,500 years ago by the Etruscans and was also considered a stone of royalty by the Ancient Roman, Greek, and Egyptian civilizations. Traditionally considered to be dark blue, sapphire also comes in a variety of colors due to a different metal occurring throughout – like violet (vanadium), white, pink (chrome), yellow and green (low iron) and orange. The only color a sapphire cannot appear as is red, because red Corundum is Ruby.
- Blue Sapphire is an enhancer of insight which activates mental and psychic abilities while quickening the mind and allows one to speak with a voice of deep inner wisdom. It is associated with Saturn, the keeper of order, limitation, discipline, and structure. Blue sapphire is great for tapping into the creativity centers of the mind and providing mental focus to turn dreams into reality. The energies of this stone activates the third eye and throat chakras which work in unison to communicate your inner vision to the real world. Blue sapphire works best with other stones of mental enhancement such as lolite, lapis lazuli, azurite, and lazulite.
- Yellow Sapphire has been known since antiquity as a bringer of prosperity. Many merchants and salesmen in Southern Asia wear this stone in hopes of enhancing their success. An old tradition still honored today in some parts of Asia is placing a yellow sapphire inside the mouth of the dead to ensure abundance of wealth in the next life. Yellow sapphire resonates with the Solar Plexus chakra to enhance personal willpower and focus one’s intention on the goal at hand. This is a great manifestation stone as it instills motivation, endurance, and ambition. Yellow sapphire works well with other sapphires as well as ruby. To enhance and intensify the powers of the Solar Plexus chakra, pair yellow sapphire with quartz or herkimer diamond. To create unison between the heart and willpower, pair it with moldavite.
- Orange Sapphire, otherwise known as Padparadsha Sapphire, is the rarest and most treasured of all the sapphires. The name is derived from the Sinhalese word for “Lotus Flower” in reference to its pinkish-orange color. Orange sapphire resonates deeply with creative and sexual energies to awaken passion and desire. As a solar stone which brings warmth and comfort, it corresponds to Mars, the planet of courage and action. Its Mars energies push you forward towards your own goals. Yellow sapphire pairs well with carnelian, orange calcite, and zincite while blue sapphire will instill the mental discipline needed to achieve success.
- Pink Sapphire radiates gentle energies of love, acceptance, healing, and forgiveness. As a stone of resiliency, it’s best used to protect the mental and emotional states, as well as an aid to safely help you navigate the obstacles on your path in life. It creates a bridge between the mind and the heart to release emotional blockages and heal past traumas. Pink sapphire’s energies are increased when paired with other stones of the heart such as rose quartz, rhodonite, and kunzite. For intense transformation of the emotional state, pair with moldavite.
- White Sapphire is a gem of focus which clears the mind of the clutter to help one make clear headed decisions, especially in regards to spiritual growth. It is a very personal stone which aids in channeling desires by working on yourself and your current situations. White sapphire aligns especially well with Libras who tend to have some difficulty making decisions. To enhance inner vision and bring dreams to fruition, pair with Phenacite.
Zodiac: Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Sagittarius, Capricorn
Planet: Earth, Mars, Saturn
Chakra: crown, third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral
Element: fire, water, wind
Colors: yellow, pink, orange, blue, green, purple, black, white, blue
2. Emerald is a green variety of beryl which was once known as Smaragdus, which translates to “emerald”, meaning “green stone”; many green stones discovered throughout history were often confused with emerald. The finest emerald in the world comes from Columbia, where the purest chromium/vanadium inclusions are found. It is also commonly found in Brazil, Russia, Africa, Australia, and Egypt. Because of its distinct and vibrant colors, it has been highly sought after since the beginning of mankind. Emerald is representative of free-flowing energy which directly impacts the heart chakra. Within it, is a form of pure love, compassion, healing, and sensuality. It helps to balance the emotional body so as we may manifest our truest desires into the physical realm. When you first tap into an emerald’s energy, you will feel a sense of love and safety – this is only a bubble. The more you work with the energies of emerald, it will push you to look inward and find the source of your need to feel safe, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. This introspection which emerald facilitates will allow you to create an environment filled with real universal love. It promotes consciousness, strength, intuition, and expands mental capacity to help us on our journey to enlightenment.
Zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Gemini
3. Ruby is an extremely hard aluminum oxide, commonly known as Corundum, in the red variety. It was named after the Latin word rubrum meaning “red”. It has been known to exist since before biblical times, but until the early 1800s, rubies were confused with what is now known as red spinels and garnets. Since it was first discovered, ruby was seen as a stone of nobility as its vibrations resonate with the ultimate life force and emanate the highest vibrations of pure red light. As a powerful grounding stone, it greatly increases one’s chi, nourishing the vital systems of the body. As it stimulates the flow of chi throughout the body, ruby draws life force energy directly to the root chakra, energizing the physical, emotional and mental bodies. Ruby is an exceptional – and gorgeous – tool for anyone with a tendency to feel weak throughout the day. Excellent at gathering and amplifying energy, it also stimulates mental concentration. As it brings out one’s inner strength, it instills courage and determination to overcome obstacles. Ruby, like its vibrant red color suggests, sparks the fire of passion within to inspire a love for life. This powerful red stone holds the ability to drive out negative energy, thoughts and feelings as you face difficulties, while also soothing the mental state to relieve anxiety and stress. Ruby eliminates fear as it simultaneously promotes inspiration and courage to conquer life. As an exceptional stone of the mind and intuition, it has a powerful effect on dreams, bringing clarity and lucidity. For discipline and determination purposes, ruby pairs well with blue sapphire. To ignite passion and romance, pair ruby with rose quartz.
Zodiac: Aries, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Scorpio, Sagittarius
Colors: red, pink, blood red, sometimes green