Home > Blogs

Sapphire, September Birthstone – Symbolism to Modernism

06 Oct 2021

The history, and lore, of sapphires goes back to 800 BC. Though there is no exact date to confirm when they were discovered, they have been chronicled by different civilizations through centuries. The rulers of ancient Persia believed the sky was painted blue by the reflection of sapphires. The kings and queens of Rome wore sapphire jewelry to protect them from harm and envy. During the Middle Ages, the clergy wore blue sapphires to attract heavenly blessings. In 1981, when Prince Charles gave a blue sapphire engagement ring to Lady Diana Spencer, its beauty captivated the world. The sapphire is one stone that has generated more myths than any other and yet continues to remain the favourite September birthstone and beyond.

The word sapphire is either derived from - sapheiros, the blue-coloured stone (Greek), sappir, the most beautiful thing (Hebrew), or Santi Priya, dear to Saturn (Sanskrit). Today, sapphire as we know it, is among the four precious stones along with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. It is a corundum or aluminum oxide found in different colours, with the most prominent being the blue sapphire.

Know your Sapphires

Colours
Most people think of the September birthstone, sapphire, as a deep, royal blue coloured stone, but that is not true. Sapphires come in different colours - gray, blue-green, green, violet, purple, orange, yellow, yellow-green, brown, golden amber, peachy pink, pink, black, and even colourless.

Colour change or colour zoning
Few rare sapphires have the unique property to exhibit different colours in a different light. While they appear blue in outdoor light, they turn purple under incandescent indoor light, or green to gray-green in daylight and pink to reddish-violet in incandescent light.

The Star Effect
Cabochon-cut sapphires may have inclusions in the stone that create a star-like pattern of rays on the surface, known as asterism. This kind of sapphire is called the star sapphire.

Density
The higher density of sapphire makes a 1ct sapphire look smaller than a 1ct diamond.

Crystallography
The sapphire is a hexagonal (trigonal) crystal. It also comes in a barrel shape, a prism with flat ends, and sometimes bi-pyramidal. Occasionally they are found as massive, granular crystals in rolled pebbles.

Hardness
The sapphire is the third hardest mineral, after diamond (10) and moissanite (9.5). It measures nine on the MOH's Hardness Scale.

7 Interesting Facts About Your Favourite Sapphire
i. In 1796, the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte gave Josephine, his beloved wife to be, a pear-shaped sapphire and diamond engagement ring. The ring, sold at auction for close to a million dollars in 2013.
ii. Pope Innocent III decreed that bishops’ ceremonial rings should be made of pure gold, set with an unengraved sapphire, as possessing the virtues and qualities essential to its dignified position as a seal of secrets, “for there be many things that a priest conceals from the senses of the vulgar and less intelligent; which he keeps locked up as it were under seal."
iii. Most Victorian engagement rings had a blue sapphire in the center surrounded by smaller diamonds, to create a floral design.
iv. The Hindus believe a sapphire causes the planet Saturn (Shani) to favour the wearer.
v. According to Italian superstition, sapphires cure eye problems and melancholy.
vi. The sapphire is the traditional gift for a 45th wedding anniversary.
vii. The Apple Watch Series 3 features a lab-created sapphire crystal in its screen to make it more scratch- resistant.

The occurrence of natural sapphires
Sapphire deposits have occurred in countries like Afghanistan, Australia, Cambodia, China, Colombia, India, Kenya, Laos, Myanmar, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, United States and Vietnam. But only sapphires from particular locations or categories, like the classic metamorphic sapphires from Kashmir, Burma or Sri Lanka that have not undergone heat-treatment have enjoyed a greater demand and higher value.
Some of the well-known sapphire mines are:

The Sri Lankan mines
The Sri Lankan mines have had some of the most valuable sapphires originating from them. The famous Logan sapphire, the India Star, the Star of Adam, and the Star of Bombay originated from these mines. Also, the famous orange-ish pink sapphires called padparadscha (lotus flower in Sinhalese) come from Sri Lankan river gravel.

The Madagascar Mines
Discovered in 1998, the mines of Madagascar became the world’s highest sapphire producing mines by 2007. Besides, it also gave some of the larger gems that are rare to find in hues of pink, yellow, green, white, and even orange (like the famous Sri Lankan apparatchiks).

The Australia Mines
From 1987 to 2007, the Australian mines were known for their sapphires. They produced 90% iron-rich blue sapphires. The remaining 10% consisted of some yellow, some green, and very few particoloured stones. Most of the sapphires from these mines were heat-treated in Thailand to remove the silk.

The Montana Mines
Sapphires with a distinct cornflower blue colour resulting from traces of iron and titanium belonged to Yogo Gulch in the Judith Basin County of Montana. These so-called Yogo sapphires were known for their distinct colour and durability. They also came in shades of steel grey, blue and yellow.

The India Mines
The sapphire deposits of Kashmir lasted only a short period at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but their superior vivid blue hue, coupled with a mysterious and almost sleepy quality, described as blue velvet, remains unsurpassed. Currently, the world record price-per-carat, is held by sapphire from Kashmir. Set in a ring, it sold in October 2015 for approximately US$242,000 per carat totaling more than US$6.74 million.

Ten most famous sapphires in history
Star of Adam (1,404.49 carats)
The Great Sapphire of Louis XIV (1,358 carats) Black Star of Queensland (733 carats)
The India Star (563.4 carats)
Queen Marie of Romania (478.68 carats) Logan Sapphire (422.99 carats)
Blue Belle of Asia (392.52 carats) The Star of Bombay (182 carats) The Midnight Star (116 carats)
The Rockefeller Sapphire (62.02 carats)

The modern synthetic sapphires
In 1909 the French chemist Auguste Verneuil discovered a process for producing synthetic sapphire crystals using iron and titanium. In 1911, he patented his invention. Since then, synthetic sapphire is not just used in costume jewelry but has found several industrial uses. It is extensively used in arc lamps, watch glasses, window glasses, and lasers.

The sapphire engagement ring 2021
Sapphires have been a part of every famous jewellery collection since ages. Celebrities like Beyoncé, Blake Lively, Angelina Jolie, Princess Diana and our very own Amitabh Bachchan have worn sapphires. Knowing what sapphires stand for - royalty, life, peace, and love - they have become the favourite stone placed alongside diamonds for the best engagement rings of 2021.

Sapphires are here to stay. They are beautiful and have gone beyond being just birthstones. In India quality sapphire and diamond bridal jewellery is a good investment so long as you have purchased it from one of the top jewellery brands.

This September, go sapphire shopping!