The September birthstone has traditionally symbolised sincerity, truth, faithfulness and nobility. For countless centuries, sapphire has adorned royalty and the robes of the clergy. The elite of ancient Greece and Rome believed that blue sapphires protected their owners from harm and envy. Clerics of the Middle Ages wore sapphires because they symbolised Heaven. Ancient Persians believed the earth actually rested on a giant sapphire, which made the sky blue.
The September birthstone was reputed to have healing powers as well. Medieval Europeans believed that sapphire cured plague boils and diseases of the eye. Sapphire was also thought to be an antidote to poison.
Perhaps the best-known sapphire in recent years is the 12ct blue gem surrounded by diamonds in the sapphire engagement ring first worn by Princess Diana and then given by her son to Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge.
WHERE IS SAPPHIRE FOUND?
Kashmir, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Sri Lanka are three historically important sources for the September birthstone. Significant quantities of the sapphire have also been found in Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, Madagascar and the United States (Montana), among other countries in Asia and Africa.
Sapphires were discovered in Kashmir around 1881 when a landslide high in the Himalayas exposed a large pocket of velvety “cornflower” blue crystals.
The stones faceted from these crystals established Kashmir sapphire’s reputation as one of the world’s most coveted gems.
SAPPHIRE BIRTHSTONE CARE & CLEANING
Sapphire is relatively hard, scoring a 9 on the Mohs scale. It has excellent toughness and no cleavage, which is a tendency to break when struck. This makes it a great choice for rings and other mountings subject to daily wear.
You should always be sure of where you are buying your sapphires, as they are often treated to improve their colour or clarity. Heat treatment is common – and the results permanent, but less common treatments such as lattice diffusion, fracture filling and dyeing may require special care. In some cases, the colour induced by lattice diffusion is so shallow it could be removed if the stone is chipped or has to be recut. Fracture-filled and dyed sapphires can be damaged by even mild acids like lemon juice. Before you buy a sapphire, always ask if it is treated and by what method.
Warm, soapy water is always a safe choice for cleaning the September birthstone.
If in doubt, pop into our boutique and one of our jewellery specialists will be pleased to offer guidance in making sure you are taking care of your precious gem.
Photo Credit: Vincent pardieu View of the northern part of the Baw Mar sapphire mine in December 2015