Sapphires are in the corundum family and second only to diamonds in hardness and shares the reputation with it's precious counterpart with decorating royalty for centuries.

Sapphires have been discovered in multiple parts of the world, including Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Continental Africa, Madagascar, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Vietnam and Australia.

It was in Australia that in 1940, James and Harry embarked on a business endeavor near Queensland Australia where they purchased a major collection of rough black sapphires, within the Anakie Sapphire Fields, to make into a collection of jewelry for men and women. In 1947, the brothers discovered a rare, 1,157 carat sapphire  originating from the Anakie Fields. A couple years later James and Harry purchased the piece and cut it into a priceless gem the Kazanjian’s named “The Black Star of Queensland.” In 1950, James and Harry found four other large rough sapphires and sculpted them into busts of U.S. Presidents Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson and Eisenhower. In 1960, Kazanjian purchased the entire inventory of a British syndicates's rough sapphires at the Yogo Mines in Great Falls, Montana. Stan Kazanjian (son of James) took the Montana stones and fashioned them into a 178 carat sapphire necklace. This exquisite necklace is considered to be the most important gemstone piece ever created. In 1969 the Kazanjian brothers were honored to loan the presidential sapphire collection to the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Later in 1988 the busts were ceremoniously donated to the White House under Regan's presidency. Cher sported the Black Star of Queensland on the opening show of their 1971 season.

In 1975 Harry and James traveled to Thailand and found stones comparable to those of the Queensland fields. They trained and employed Thai workers to cut and polish the sapphires.