September birthstone in the Western tradition is sapphire, a gem that has been prized since as far back as 800 BC. This article discusses the beauty and value of the sapphire, its physical features, where it’s found, its symbolism, some famous pieces of sapphire jewelry and how sapphire jewelry should be cared for.
The Long History of Sapphire
The word sapphire comes from the Greek sappheiros, which referred to the startling and rich blue color most people associate with the sapphire. It has been worn as a guard against illness and envy and to safeguard travelers.
The kings of ancient Persia believed that the sky’s color was but a reflection of the blue sapphire, and Hindu worshippers believe the stone is beloved by the planet Saturn.
Medieval clergymen wore sapphires because their blue was a symbol of heaven, and the folk believed the gemstone could ensure chastity, suppress wicked thoughts, cause oracles to give up their secrets and affect spirits.
Locations and Productions: Sri- Lanka, Australia, Myanmar
Sapphires are found in what are called gem gravels collected from rivers. They are often tiny, but there are places where there are larger and marketable ones. One of the most famous gem gravel sites is found in Sri Lanka. Sapphires are also found among basaltic and pegmatite rocks.
Main mining sites include Sri- Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, the United States,Thailand, Vietnam Nigeria, Pakistan, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, China, India and the Czech Republic.
Sapphires can be natural or synthetic.
Synthetic sapphires are made through a flame fusion process that uses aluminum with additions of titanium. Other types of artificial sapphire are made with garnet and blue glass, and artificial star sapphires are created by using cabochons made of quartz.
Nowadays, even natural sapphires are heat-treated to remove impurities and enhance clarity and color. Other sapphires are treated with chemicals and heat to change their colors too. This is called lattice diffusion. Irradiation also intensifies the colors of fancy sapphires.
Physical Features: Hard, Any color but red, Inevitable inclusions
A sapphire is made of corundum, which is the hardest natural substance after diamonds and the extremely rare gem: moissanite.
The chemical formula for a sapphire is Al2O2, or aluminum oxide, minus any impurities. It has a refractive index of 1.76 to 1.77 and is 3.9 to 4.1 times denser than water.
It has a value of 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, with a vitreous and or glassy luster, and is transparent to translucent and has a strong pleochroism.
This means that the stone presents different colors when seen at different angles. This makes cutting and polishing a sapphire especially challenging.
Since sapphires nearly always have inclusions, they are not judged as strictly by their clarity as a diamond would be. Like all colored gems, they are judged mostly on the depth and vividness of their color.
Some rare sapphires have a mineral called rutile within them that produces what looks like a six-pointed star. These valuable gems are called star sapphires.
Though most people think sapphires are blue, a sapphire can be any color but red.
Corundum is colorless, and a high-quality piece of colorless corundum is called a white sapphire. Sometimes, this sapphire substitutes for a diamond. When corundum is red, it’s called a ruby.
The color of blue sapphires is due to the inclusion of iron and titanium. The yellow sapphire gets its color from iron, while the black sapphire, like the blue stone, gets its color from titanium and iron. Black sapphires are not considered high quality.
Pink sapphires get their color from chromium. The more chromium in the gem, the deeper the shade of pink. Eventually, a red color is achieved, and the stone becomes a ruby.
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Sapphires that aren’t blue are called fancy sapphires. They can also have more than one color. In that case, they’re called particolored sapphires.
Some sapphires are called “color change sapphires,” and they reveal different shades of blue depending on whether the gem is seen in artificial or natural light. The Alexandrite sapphire is blue in daylight but turns red or violet when it’s seen in artificial light.
In order to bring out the best color of a sapphire, they usually have a brilliant cut on the top of the jewel and a step cut on the bottom.
Ruby VS sapphire
Besides being red, rubies differ from sapphires in their crystal structure. Rubies tend to have flat crystals while the crystals of sapphires are barrel-shaped or pyramid shaped.
Both gemstones are full of beautiful mineral inclusions. Rutile needles in sapphires give the polished gem a type of shimmer called “silk,” and if the needles are arranged the right way, they produce the asterism.
Beauty, Values, Prices: Rare and Expensive
The value of a sapphire depends on its weight, its clarity and its color saturation. The most expensive sapphires are usually beautiful, clear, deep blue and can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Fancy sapphires whose colors are less intense cost considerably less than a sapphire that’s a vivid blue.
So a buyer can buy sapphire earrings with large pear-shaped gemstones that weigh a total of 3 carats for about $400 but spend over $2000 on another pair of sapphire earrings whose sapphires weigh a total of 1.20 carats but are of higher quality.
Still, a prospective buyer shouldn’t compromise on the way that the gem is cut. Even a stone whose color isn’t eye-popping must be cut in a way that makes it sparkle and evenly reflect the light that falls into it.
How it’s been treated also affects the price of the sapphire. A gem that’s been treated chemically is not as valuable as one that’s been heated. If the buyer isn’t sure if the jewel they’re considering has been treated, they should order a lab report.
Sapphire Meanings: A stone of wisdom
Like so many other types of crystals, the sapphire comes with its own meanings. It’s the September birthstone and the gift for the 45th wedding anniversary. The sapphire is a stone of wisdom, and each color has its own meanings.
The black sapphire brings confidence in intuition and help in finding and holding on to a job.
The blue sapphire symbolizes love and purity. It’s no wonder that one of the most famous sapphire engagement rings was given to Lady Diana Spencer by Prince Charles, then passed down to their daughter-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge.
The green sapphire supports both inner and outer vision and helps the wearer remember their dreams.
The pink sapphire helps the person draw what they need to evolve into their life. It also clears away emotional blockages.
The purple sapphire awakens the pineal gland, which facilitates the wearer’s psychic gifts.
The star sapphire opens the intuition and allows the wearer to center their thoughts. Some people use it to communicate with extraterrestrials.
The white sapphire’s pure energy heightens the wearer’s spiritual awareness, and the yellow sapphire attracts wealth.
Famous Pieces of Sapphire Jewelry
Besides the royal Windsor engagement ring, three pieces of famous sapphire jewelry are:
The Stuart Sapphire
This is another one of the royal gems of Great Britain. It’s found in the Imperial State Crown and can be seen with the rest of the crown regalia at the Towner of London. Though its provenance is murky, historians believe it was first owned by Charles II, then James the IV then was bought back by George III.
The Star of Bombay
This is a star sapphire that was given to Mary Pickford, the star of silent films, by her husband Douglas Fairbanks. When she died in 1979, she gave it to the Smithsonian Institution, where it remains.
This gem weighed 182 carats, and its deep blue is touched with violet due to the presence of vanadium. Bombay Sapphire gin is named after it.
The Bismarck Sapphire Necklace
This stunning necklace not only feature a huge 98.56 carat sapphire, but many small diamonds on a platinum chain.
It was made in 1935 and named for Countess Mona von Bismarck, who gave it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1967. The sapphire is from Burma and was bought by the countess in 1926 while she was on her honeymoon in Sri Lanka.
Care and Maintenance
Caring for sapphire jewelry is easy. Store the piece in its own velvet bag so it won’t scratch or be scratched by other gems.
When it comes to cleaning, use warm water and a bit of dish washing liquid. Rub the gem with a soft-bristled toothbrush, rinse with clear water, and dry with a soft, clean, lint-free cloth.
If the piece is really dirty and the gem is set in gold or platinum, it can be soaked for about 15 minutes first. Avoid harsh chemicals that can leave a film behind or scratch the gem.
The September birthstone is one of the most beautiful gems you can buy, whether it’s the blue hue of a peacock’s neck, or the soft salmon pink of a lotus blossom or simply golden yellow. Don’t hesitate to check out the selected collection of gorgeous sapphire jewelry mentioned in the article.
Thank you for reading this article on September birthstone, I hope it helps you get the information needed. Feel to share your thoughts below or check other articles on birthstones by month that we have published.
- January birthstone: Garnet- Chastity, Sincerity, Friendliness, Authenticity
- February birthstone: Amethyst– Honest, Peaceful
- March birthstone: Aquamarine and Blood stone– Calm, Brave, Smart
- April birthstone: Diamonds- Pure and Flawless
- May birthstone: Emerald– Lucky and Happy
- June birthstone: Pearl, Moonstone, Alexandrite– Healthy, Longevity, Richness
- July birthstone: Ruby– Passion, Love, Dignity
- August birthstone: Peridot, Spinel and Sardonyx– Pure, Holy, Protective
- September birthstone: Sapphire– Loving, Honest, Virtuous
- October birthstone: Opal, Tourmaline– Joy, Ease, Blessings
- November birthstone: Citrine, Topaz– Friendship, Hope
- December birthstone: Turquoise, Tanzanite, Zircon– Victory, Luck, Success
Image sources: Graff, Prestigeonline.