September Birthstone Jewelry: The Splendor of Sapphire

September 10, 2018

People born in September have a beautiful birthstone to call their own: the sapphire.

It is a beautiful stone (available in many colors in addition to blue) in the corundum family that has been used throughout the classic jewelry periods and continues to be used in all jewelry styles, from classic styles to modern designs.

The History of Sapphire

The sapphire has a long and rich history, beginning in ancient Greece and Rome, when kings and queens believed it would protect them from harm and envy.

During the Middle Ages, clergy wore sapphires. Later, people believed it would protect chastity, create peace among enemies, instill self-discipline and even reveal the full meaning of prophecies. And for much of modern history it's been a beloved jewel in Europe and other Western countries. The Queen's favorite jewel is the St. Edward's Sapphire set at the top of the Imperial State Crown of England.

One of the most famous sapphires in history is the one in Princess Diana’s engagement ring, which Prince William gave to Kate Middleton when he proposed to her. And most recently, Princess Eugenie got engaged with a Padparadcha sapphire ring!

A sapphire continues to be a popular alternative to a center diamond in engagement rings because of the wide range of colors available, which allows couples to add a pop of color or go with a colorless (white) sapphire for a more traditional look.

About the Sapphire

Sapphire is a member of the corundum mineral family, pure aluminum oxide. It is extremely rare and the second hardest substance occurring in nature, with diamond being the hardest.

The name comes from the Latin word “sapphirus” and Greek “sappheiros”, which mean “blue stone”. However, it’s believed that these cultures were referring to the stone lapis lazuli rather than sapphire.

Many people assume all sapphires are blue. However, the sapphire comes in several other colors (called “fancy sapphires”) including pink, violet, green, yellow, orange, colorless, and more. One exception is red, which is classified as the ruby.

Usually, when jewelers use the word “sapphire” alone, they mean blue sapphire. Any other color will appear with the word for clarification.

Sapphires are mined in various parts of the world, including Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Brazil, among others.

Value depends on their color, cut, clarity, carat size, and origin. Note that some jewelry stores sell synthetic sapphires, which are created in a laboratory as opposed to being mined from the Earth, which greatly impacts their value.

Sapphires are durable, can be used in any type of style of jewelry, and worn by just about any customer. Transparent sapphires are usually faceted, while translucent sapphires are cut in to cabochons and opaque stones are used for beads or kept as specimen pieces.

Some cabochon-cut sapphires display an optical effect known as asterism. These stones tend to be translucent and appear to have a six or twelve-point star moving around on the surface of the stone. These stones contain intersecting needle-like inclusions following the underlying crystal structure of the stone.

This 'star' is visible when viewed with a single overhead light source or bright sunlight. An interesting stone that has recently come to market is black star sapphire displaying a golden star (these stones are only mined in Thailand and command a premium in the market).

Surprising Facts about Sapphires

Here are some things you may not know about sapphires:

  • Sapphire is a milestone gemstone used to celebrate couples’ 5th and 45th anniversaries.
  • Padparadscha, the most valuable sapphire, is a gorgeous salmon color that is quite different from the iconic blue stone.
  • Because sapphires are incredibly strong, second only to diamonds, they have many industrial applications beyond their role in jewelry. Sapphires are used in watch mechanisms, electronics, high-durability windows and many scientific instruments.
  • Some sapphires change colors when exposed to different light sources. They may appear blue under daylight and purple under incandescent lighting. Some color change sapphires, such as alexandrite, are true chameleons. Depending on lighting conditions they can show anything from a true green to a solid red and sometimes a rare pink to intense purple color change! Note that these stones fetch a significant premium over blue sapphire when they are available.

Shopping for Sapphire Jewelry

Were you or a loved one born in September?

Check out our current selection of sapphire jewelry including timeless designs, contemporary styles, estate and vintage pieces, and more. You’re sure to find something amazing.


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