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Gemfields Launches Sapphire – Completing the ‘Big Three’ Trilogy

Gemfields is delighted to announce the final instalment in the trilogy of books dedicated to the celebration of coloured gemstones, published by Thames & Hudson in association with Violette Editions. The much-anticipated release of Sapphire – which follows on from Emerald and Ruby – will complete a literary trifecta dedicated to the most revered coloured gemstones: emeralds, rubies and sapphires, often called “the big three”.


The Big Three: Emerald, Ruby & Sapphire books by Joanna Hardy, published by Thames & Hudson in partnership with Gemfields


A decade in the making, this triptych of beautifully presented books – each with a jewel-coloured cover to set the tone – was written and researched by highly regarded author and gemmologist Joanna Hardy, who has over 30 years of experience with gemstones, working for the likes of De Beers, Phillips and Sotheby’s. Sapphire is a must-read for any gem-lover.


As a world-leading supplier of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones, Gemfields is passionate about this subject. Gemfields has accrued years of knowledge of coloured gemstones as the operator of both Kagem in Zambia, the world’s single largest emerald mine, and Montepuez Ruby Mining in Mozambique, the most significant ruby deposit discovered this century. This stunningly illustrated series of books presents the perfect platform for Gemfields to share its passion for these marvels of nature – and to disperse some of the myths and complexity that surround them by making coloured gemstones more accessible to everyone.


At the heart of all of Gemfields’ operations is a desire to return significant value to a gemstone’s country of origin, in addition to funding projects that benefit both local communities and conservation efforts. The search is now underway for an appropriate blue sapphire deposit for Gemfields to put its name to, and which would complete the “big three” trio of operations in Africa.


“Few things on our planet blend wonder, magic and mysticism quite like the ‘Holy Trinity’ of coloured gemstones. They chart the history, heritage and legacy of humankind across millennia in a unique and captivating manner. Ten minutes spent browsing the marvellous photos on these pages will cheer any soul. Gemfields is truly honoured to have played a small role in bringing these three works to life in a project that has now spanned almost a decade,” says Sean Gilbertson, CEO.


This trio of titles represents perhaps the most comprehensive reference guide in existence to the big three coloured gemstones, a perfect resource for anyone wanting to research or better understand the unique allure which has captivated humankind for centuries. All three books are beautifully researched, written and photographed, and take a deep dive into the history and the spiritual and talismanic properties of each of these gems, as well as touching upon notable pieces of jewellery and the celebrity clientele that helped to maintain their iconic status as red-carpet favourites through the ages. Emerald, Ruby and Sapphire have been enriched by the support of jewellery houses Boucheron, Bulgari, Cartier, Chaumet, Fabergé, Graff, Mellerio, Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef & Arpels and Verdura.


In Emerald, we learn how these bright green gems, the birthstone for the month of May, are 20 times rarer than colourless diamonds. They were first discovered over five millennia ago and have only grown in popularity. Their fresh green hue is associated with qualities of healing, rebirth and renewal. They have been beloved by everyone from the Empress Cleopatra to the Indian Mughal emperors and the finest jewellery houses, from Cartier to Boucheron and Bulgari, have placed them at the centre of their creations. Emerald showcases over 400 of the most outstanding ancient and modern pieces featuring emeralds, from the archives of the great jewellery houses. Author Joanna Hardy curates a selection of iconic jewellery from across the ages, art and design writer Hettie Judah delivers a contextual introduction, globetrotter Jonathan Self reveals the secrets of the emerald trade and provides historical background, while the late Franca Sozzani of Italian Vogue weighs in on jewellery and style from a personal perspective.


In Ruby, we discover how these fiery red gemstones – the birthstone for July – have long represented passion, prosperity and protection. A glittering talisman, they were brought into battle by warrior tribes and have been placed under the foundations of buildings to bring good luck; they are thought to possess the power of life and symbolise the blood flowing through our veins. The Chinese have long deferred to the “lucky” colour red. Joanna Hardy traces the origin of rubies along the Silk Route, from the ancient mines of Burma to European courts and palaces. There are more than 500 stunning visuals of some of the world’s finest pieces from the likes of Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels, Fabergé and Graff. We learn why rubies are called “the king of gems” and about some of the most significant ruby deposits.


The final book in the series, Sapphire, continues in the same vein as its predecessor titles, charting the enduring popularity of this mesmerising blue gem from the 4th century BCE to the present day. In Hindu astrology, blue sapphires are associated with the planet Saturn, renowned for its hostile nature, and are, as such, to be worn with respect. They are also seen as offering protection against disease and envy, and are thought to foster friendship, peace and wisdom. Blue sapphires were Jacques Cartier’s preferred gems and have long been a favourite with royalty too: as well as being a top choice of gemstone for royal engagement rings, they have adorned many a crown. Famously, Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a sapphire on the eve of their wedding. Star sapphires, so called for their tiny inclusions which create an asterism effect, have been especially popular with Hollywood sirens like Joan Crawford.


Sapphires are, above all, a celebration of colour – red ones are, in fact, called rubies – and although sapphires come in a kaleidoscope of shades, it is blue sapphires that are the most beloved, with the benchmark for the perfect colour being ‘the feathers on a peacock’s neck’. Vividly illustrated with upwards of 740 images of pieces, Sapphire is as educational as it is entertaining and features a selection of works by 21st century jewellery designers such as Shaun Leane, Hemmerle, Lauren Adriana, Bina Goenka and Mish. There are also previously unpublished photos of blue sapphire pieces from six major private collections.


Joanna Hardy says, “Sapphire is an unassuming gem. It has been overshadowed by diamonds, rubies and emeralds for decades, but ignore it at your peril, for sapphire is a titan of the gemstone world.”


Sapphire: A Celebration of Colour will launch on 30 September 2021, alongside the second edition of Ruby and third iteration of Emerald – revised and expanded with stunning gemstone inclusions. Emerald, Ruby and Sapphire are each priced at £85 from Thames & Hudson.




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