September’s Birthstone is the Sapphire, Valued for Wisdom and Spiritual Progress. Traditionally, sapphire symbolizes nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. It has decorated the robes of royalty and clergy members for centuries. Its extraordinary color is the standard against which other blue gems—from topaz to tanzanite—are measured.
A gift of a sapphire symbolizes a pledge of trust and loyalty. It is from this tradition that sapphire has long been a popular choice for engagement rings.
Blue sapphire was valued by ancient Hindu mystics as the key to developing wisdom and spiritual progress. By Roman times, blue sapphires were used as beads, ring stones, carved intaglios and pendant stones, because they were said to attract divine favor to their owners. In ancient Greece and Rome, kings and queens were convinced that blue sapphires protected their owners from envy and harm.
Yellow Sapphire is the legendary helper of the Hindu god, Ganeesh. While Ganeesh brings prosperity to the home, Yellow Sapphire brings wealth. Throughout the ages, merchants in India and the Far East have worn, or carried, fine Yellow Sapphire to enhance their business success. When worn, it is set so that a portion of the stone itself touches the body. To increase earnings it is often placed in cash boxes, and many people have been buried or cremated with Yellow Sapphire placed in their mouths to ensure wealth in the next life.
A special pink sapphire color is called padparadscha, which means “lotus flower” in Sinhalese, the language spoken in Sri Lanka. Stones from Sri Lanka were initially the only ones labeled with this marketable name. There’s no telling how many padparadschas have been sifted from Sri Lankan river gravel throughout history. Sri Lankans have a special affection for the color that’s traditionally been linked with their country.
The ancient Persian rulers believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire and its reflection colored the heavens blue. Indeed, the very name in Latin, "Sapphiru," means blue. During the Middle Ages, the clergy wore blue sapphires to symbolize Heaven, and ordinary folks thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings. In other times and places, people instilled sapphires with the power to guard chastity, make peace between enemies, influence spirits, and reveal the secrets of oracles. All through the Middle Ages, sapphires were alleged to bring a great destiny to their wearers, and were often used in court and royal jewelry. Alchemists believed that blue sapphires would help them develop clairvoyance, telepathy and divine wisdom.
For centuries, sapphire has been associated with royalty and romance. The association was reinforced in 1981, when Britain’s Prince Charles gave a blue sapphire engagement ring to Lady Diana Spencer. Until her death in 1997, Princess Di, as she was known, charmed and captivated the world. Her sapphire ring helped link modern events with history and fairy tales.
Today blue sapphire is the September birthstone, the fifth and 45th wedding anniversary gem, and the zodiac gem for Virgo. It has become one of the world’s most popular gems.
Sapphire is found in many parts of the world, but the most prized sapphires are from Myanmar (Burma), Kashmir and Sri Lanka.
Corundum can show a phenomenon called asterism, or the star effect. This phenomenon usually appears as a six-ray star pattern across a cabochon-cut stone’s curved surface. The star effect can be seen in ruby or any color of sapphire, and it arises from white light reflecting from numerous tiny, oriented needle-like inclusions.
Besides fancy sapphire and star corundum, there’s another interesting variety: color-change sapphire. These fascinating stones change color under different lighting. Their presence adds a special dimension to the already amazing corundum family of gems.
Both blue and fancy sapphires come from a variety of exotic sources including Madagascar, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Australia.