When I talk about sapphire, most people picture a deep blue gemstone, but sapphire actually comes in a wide range of hues. From pinks, purples, greens, and yellows, pretty much the only colour sapphire doesn’t come in is red – because that would be called a ruby.
Generally speaking, when we’re discussing sapphire as the birthstone for September, I’m referring to the familiar blue variety but, if you’re a September baby, don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to the one shade. With their durability and variety of price points, sapphires are a great addition to any jewelry collection.
In addition to being the September birthstone, Sapphire is also the traditional gemstone for the 5th wedding anniversary.
Table of Contents
September Birthstone History
Sapphires have a rich history dating back thousands of years. The ancient Persians believed that the blue sky was a reflection of sapphires, while the Greeks associated sapphires with the god Apollo. In medieval times, sapphires were believed to have healing powers and were used to treat eye problems and mental illnesses. During the Renaissance, sapphires symbolized faith and purity, and were often worn by royalty and clergy. The British Crown Jewels contain some of the most famous sapphires in the world, including the St. Edward’s sapphire, which is set in the Imperial State Crown.
Today, sapphires are still highly prized for their beauty and rarity. They are mined around the world, with the most famous sources being Sri Lanka, Burma, and Madagascar.
Below, I’ll explore some of the most famous sapphires.
Examples of Famous Sapphires
The Rockefeller Sapphire
The Rockefeller Sapphire is a magnificent 62.02 ct rectangular step cut stone that was unearthed in Myanmar (Burma). Discovered in 1934, the gem was purchased by legendary financier John D. Rockefeller, Jr. from an Indian Maharajah. After its acquisition, the sapphire was recut and remounted, first as a brooch and later as a ring with two cut-cornered triangular diamond side stones (seen in the photo above).
Changing hands multiple times since the Rockefellers, this sapphire has adorned several different jewelry pieces throughout the years. The last time this gem was sold at auction in 2001, it fetched a price of over 3 million dollars!
Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring
One of the most iconic pieces of jewelry in the world, Princess Diana’s sapphire engagement ring caused a bit of controversy at the time. The engagement ring was crafted by UK jewelry company Garrard’s, and was inspired by a treasured brooch that King Albert gifted to Queen Victoria on their wedding day.
There’s no denying that the 12ct blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by a halo of 14 solitaire diamonds is an absolute stunner worthy of a princess. However, it’s rumoured that the royal family was displeased that the ring wasn’t one of a kind and could be purchased from Gerrard’s catalogue – for a tidy sum of £47,000 ($60,000USD) – the equivalent to over $200,000USD today.
Considered to be “the most famous engagement ring in history”, Prince William has now passed the ring to his future bride, Kate Middleton, now the current Princess of Wales.
Blue Sapphire Meaning & Healing Properties
Sapphire calms and focuses the mind, allowing instinct to take the lead.
Releasing tensions and unwanted thoughts leaves more room for lightness and joy – restoring balance within the body.
Sapphire’s radiant energy heightens spiritual power, enhancing self-discipline and intuition, augmenting subconscious action towards goals and desires.
September Birthstone Properties
Most people are unaware that ruby and sapphire are made of the same mineral: corundum, a form of aluminum oxide. The color of the sapphire is determined by the amount of various trace elements present, such as iron, titanium, and chromium. For example, blue sapphires contain iron and titanium, while pink sapphires contain chromium. Only when corundum is found in specific shades of red are they considered to be rubies.
Sapphires are formed deep within the Earth, often in igneous rocks such as granite or basalt. They can also be found in alluvial deposits, where they have been carried by rivers and streams.
Sapphire’s chemical composition makes them one of the hardest natural substances on Earth, second only to diamonds (and some lab made stones like moissanite). Sapphires have a MOHs rating of 9 and no cleavage (susceptibility to break when struck), making them excellent choice for jewelry that will get daily wear.
Sapphires make a beautiful alternative to diamonds for engagement rings, especially if you’re not afraid of a little colour. Some of my favourite stones to work with are the ethically mined Montana sapphires that come in various pastel and grey-blue shades.
September Birthstone Care
While untreated sapphires are extremely durable, Sapphires are often treated to enhance their color or clarity, a common practice in the jewelry trade. It’s always best to ask before buying as certain treatments will change the care required.
Heat treatment is the most common type of treatment and the results are permanent and durable. However, some sapphires may have been treated with lattice diffusion, fracture filling, or dyeing, which require special care. These treatments generally only affect the surface layers so, if the stone is chipped or recut, the color may be lost.
Dyed or fracture-filled sapphires can be damaged if exposed to the mildest of acids, like lemon juice or vinegar, so if you’re unsure about your sapphire, it’s best to clean it with only a damp cloth.
If you know your sapphire is either untreated or only heat-treated, then it’s safe to use an ultrasonic or steam cleaner. A soak in some warm, soapy water and brushing with a soft bristled brush is also a great cleaning method.
Store your sapphire jewelry in a soft pouch or box.