Your jewelry box might not have any sapphires in it, but did you know that your smartphone probably does?
Sapphires are the second hardest stones in the world, coming in only behind diamonds in terms of durability and strength, which is part of what is making them so popular with smartphone manufacturers. If you own a brand new phone, particularly an iPhone 5S, there is a fair chance that you might have some of the precious gems hidden under your fingers as you text away.
This is not the first time that sapphires have been used in technology manufacturing; in fact they are commonly used to make LEDs. Lately, though, sapphires are becoming more and more popular with smartphone manufacturers, who use the nearly-unbreakable stones to protect camera lenses and home buttons. Whilst the sapphire ingots used to make smartphones aren’t nearly as sparkly as anything in Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection, they are proving to be an extremely useful material in the manufacturing process.
In 2012, Apple became the first smartphone manufacturer to include a sapphire lens in its products with the iPhone 5, sparking the sudden boom in the use of sapphire. In 2012, sapphire only enjoyed a 5 percent demand as a smartphone component, however this figure is meant to jump to more than 20 percent by 2014. It may only be a few years before all smartphone screens are made of sapphire, and the dreaded cracked screen becomes a thing of the past.