The gorgeous blue of the September birthstone, the sapphire, is enough to make anyone born in any other month positively envious. While most people associate sapphires with the color blue, these lovely gemstones, a variety of the mineral corundum, actually come in nearly every color, including green, yellow and pink. Sapphires in colors other than blue are known as ‘fancies.’ But most ‘September babies’ choose a stone with the traditional blue color as their birthstone, preferring the traditional rich blue hue over any other.
The word ‘sapphire’ is derived from the Latin sapphirus as well as the Greek word sappheiroswhich means blue stone. Some scholars believe the term comes from the Sanskrit word ‘sanipriya’meaning ‘dear to Saturn.’
Whatever the origin of the name might have been, sapphires have a long and storied history. The ancient Hebrews believed that the Ten Commandments, given to Moses on the top of Mount Sinai, were engraved on tablets of sapphire. The ancient Greeks, when seeking answers from the oracle, wore sapphires for guidance. In the Middle Ages, the blue color of this gemstone symbolized heaven and was thought to attract Divine favor. And in early Christian history, kings favored the stones by using them in their ecclesiastical rings, and also used sapphires to adorn their robes.
Today, the leading supplier of sapphires in the world is Madagascar, a huge island off the southeast coast of Africa. But in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the blue sapphire came from India’s Kashmir region. Australia was also a significant source of the gems until the Madagascar deposits were discovered. Sapphires are also found in Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, China, Australia, Brazil, Africa and in North America. Most North American sapphires are found in the state of Montana.
A sapphire from the Kashmir mines set the world record for price per carat, when in October 2015, a stone was sold at auction for more than 6.74 million dollars, or $242,000 per carat! One of the most beautiful sapphires in the world, the 330 carat Star of India, resides in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Sapphires are extremely hard, second only to diamonds. Because of this, they are used extensively in industry, finding uses in scientific instruments, watches, electronics and even in high-durability windows.
This royal blue stone has come to symbolize nobility and loyalty, as well as sincerity and integrity. Sapphires are also associated with being able to focus one’s mind, maintain self-discipline and even with the ability to channel higher powers. The stone was also believed to protect one from poisoning and when it was ground into a powder, it was thought to help with everything from colic, rheumatism and weak eyesight to sore throats and even mental illness.
Britain’s Prince Charles presented Lady Diana with a 12-carat blue sapphire engagement ring when he proposed in 1981. This same ring was given to Catherine Middleton by Prince William in 2010 when they became engaged.
But you certainly don’t have to have royal blood to own or gift one of these lovely blue gemstones. This sterling silver Irish Claddagh ring with a blue sapphire stone set as the heart, or this beautiful Claddagh pendant with a simulated blue sapphire heart, will win the heart of any September born friend or loved one.