As with all precious stones, sapphires are as complex as people.
As a raw gem taken from the earth, they are a subtle combination of elements that define their hardness and their colour. (Sapphires are second only to diamonds in hardness.)
As polished precious stones, they are as complex and as beautiful as the soul of the person wearing them.
Arguably most-special of all, Australian sapphires are unique. Sometimes called 'parti sapphires', they are unusual in often having multiple colours within them.
"The colours that we get in the Australian landscape are to be found in Australian sapphires," explains Jason Ree. "You will find beautiful blues, and greens and yellows, and purples, all mixed together, that mimic the colours of wattle, and the greens and mauves of the gum leaves. They are very distinct, and their colours are unique to sapphires found here in Australia.
"To Australians, Australian sapphires are wonderfully familiar."
There is more to sapphires than being intensely beautiful gemstones, with a lot to offer the wearer. Jason Ree explains their allure this way: "What's most fascinating to me is seeing all these blends of bizarre colours, in the one stone, that will change depending on whether it's a cloudy day, or a sunny day. They almost seem to change to reflect the mood of the wearer, somehow."
Australian sapphires are unusual in that they often come with provenance, which adds to their mystique, quality and value. There's every chance that the identity of the actual creek bed in which a particular sapphire was found is known. The stones used by Jason to create rings and jewellery are sourced through a supply chain that often literally starts with a fossicker, with no-one disenfranchised along the way. "It's super-cute when the owner of a new sapphire ring remembers where they found the gemstone, or knows the name of the person who found it," he says.
Australian sapphires are mostly found in Inverell, in the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, and in the towns of Emerald, Sapphire and Rubyvale in Queensland.
That sapphires are such glorious gems, with such a variety of colours that reflect where in the world they are found or mined, comes as a surprise when you discover that chemically they are the same as corundum, the material used to make sandpaper. What distinguishes sapphires from rubies is their colour - a gemstone that is red is a ruby, because of traces of chromium. Australian sapphires - with all of the colours around a predominant blue - take their colour from the high iron content found on the Australian continent.
But, says Jason, "You can get any colour of the rainbow in a sapphire.
"And because it's such a tough gemstone, it's ideal for engagement jewellery, where the purpose is literally to wear it every single day for the rest of your life."
The meaning of sapphires
As with other jewellery, Jason prefers a bespoke approach to every sapphire ring he creates. "To me, each individual has their own connection to what a sapphire means. Again, the bespoke process is me understanding how a sapphire resonates for the customer. It's not at all to do with my take on this. If someone is looking to articulate a special meaning that they associate with a sapphire, then I will jump on that and articulate that through the jewellery, no problems at all."
He continues: "I feel like sapphire resonates on lots of different levels for all engagements because it is durable, it is everlasting. And you don't get two Australian sapphires that look the same."
The quality of sapphires is partly defined by what are called inclusions inside the gemstone, something that are absent from diamonds. These can be tiny (too small to be visible without a jeweller's magnifying glass) gems trapped inside the large stone, or subtle variations in the colour or the structure of the crystals. The inclusions found in a sapphire are intrinsic parts of that sapphire's makeup, clarity and quality. And in Australian sapphires can be especially beautiful - an example being sergeant stripes, incredibly thin and subtle lines of colour set perfectly at angles of 120 degrees, something unique to sapphires.
In creating the perfect sapphire ring, Jason uses the uniqueness of each Australian sapphire as his starting point. The process is then to consider the options from the palette of metals that combine with the stone, the colour of the wearer's skin, and the inputs they have to the story behind the ring.
"This is all about what's going to look amazing on a person's hand," is how Jason sums it up.
Contact Jason Ree about a bespoke sapphire ring.