Here at Plante Jewelers, the most popular colored gemstone is the sapphire. For a September birthday or a 5th or 45th anniversary, it’s the perfect present. Sapphires can be worn by everyone, regardless of when you were born!
This September birthstone comes in a wide variety of colors from the traditional blue sapphire, to pink-orange padparadscha. It symbolizes purity and wisdom, and has been considered one of the most precious of gems since the dawn of civilization. The gorgeous blue color is sapphire’s claim to fame, but there’s so much more to learn about this precious gem! Below we’ll talk about the history of the sapphire, along with buying tips and other fun things to know about this intriguing birthstone.
Throughout history, sapphires have been prized for their incomparable beauty, strength, and protective powers. Worn in ancient times for protection as well as for status and to denote wisdom, sapphires symbolize heaven, divinity, and eternal life.
One of the “Big Three” gemstones (emerald, ruby, and sapphire), sapphire has always been treasured as a gemstone of nobility and divine favor. It has been a talisman for many religions—worn by the Greek oracles, Christian prelates, and by the Buddhists who prized it for calming them during meditation. People instilled sapphires with the power to make peace between enemies and guard chastity.
Widely associated with royalty, sapphires have decorated the robes of clergy members for hundreds of years to symbolize heaven. A stone of truth, faithfulness, and sincerity, the sapphire is especially ideal for engagement rings. Its extraordinary color is the standard against which other blue gems—from topaz to tanzanite—are measured.
Star sapphires exhibit a star-like phenomenon called asterism—inclusions within the crystals, known as “silk,” reflect light in a pattern of rays that resemble a star. These sapphires have long been associated with power and desirability. Helen of Troy owned a large star sapphire, and she also had dozens of suitors. Surely she treasured her star sapphire for its beauty as well as its protective powers!
One of the interesting qualities of sapphire is that it is dichroic, meaning that its color can vary when the gemstone is viewed from different directions. Viewed one way, it may appear violet-blue, and from the other direction, it may look greenish-blue. Skilled cutters will take this into account, and cut the gemstone to preserve the richest violet-blue color. Especially with larger pieces of rough material, the cutter will cut to maximize the color. The finished gemstones are not standardized in size and proportion. This creates a highly individual gem that shows the most saturated color.
The most highly desirable sapphires come from Kashmir, where they are only found a few months of the year in the Himalaya mountains. They boast a velvety appearance and bright coloring. Montana sapphires have their own look—they are usually a lighter steel blue or teal in color. They are currently popular in sapphire engagement rings.
Today, Sri Lanka continues to be the source of the most prized sapphires. Madagascar is also a significant source. Sapphires are also mined in India, Myanmar, Vietnam, and of course in North America—specifically Montana.
The vast majority of sapphires are treated using heat to create a more brilliant hue. One percent or less of sapphires are gem quality when they are first taken from the earth. Those untreated sapphires are rare and valuable.
Princess Diana’s blue sapphire engagement ring—In 1981, Prince Charles presented Lady Diana Spencer with a 12-carat oval blue sapphire, cut into facets and surrounded by fourteen solitaire diamonds. Prince William gave the stunning ring to Kate Middleton to seal their engagement in 2010.
The Rockefeller Sapphire—Named after its one-time proprietor, John D. Rockefeller Jr., the Rockefeller Sapphire is a 2.02-carat internally flawless cornflower blue sapphire.
The Stuart Sapphire in the Imperial Crown—Weighing in at 104 carats, the Stuart Sapphire forms part of the British Crown Jewels. It was passed down through the royal families, until finally coming into the hands of Henry Benedict Stuart, hence the stone’s name.
Star of Bombay—A182-carat star sapphire from Sri Lanka, the Star of Bombay was given to silent film star Mary Pickford by her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.. In 1981, she bequeathed it to the Smithsonian Institute. It’s the namesake of Bombay Sapphire, a gin manufactured in Britain.
Most sapphires can be safely cleaned in an ultrasonic machine and steamer. If in doubt, take the safest route and use a soft toothbrush with mild soap and water, rinse, and air dry. Store it as you would any fine jewelry, kept separate from other pieces that may scratch it.
Sapphire jewelry is truly heirloom-worthy, and can be treasured and handed down for generations. If you have inherited a piece of jewelry with sapphires that have become abraded over time, they will look dull on the surface. This can happen to any gemstone, especially inherited jewelry that has been worn for many years. We can resurface your sapphire and make it look new again!
Plante Jewelers offers a lovely selection of beautiful sapphire birthstone jewelry to match your personal style. Find the best option for you or a loved one. Visit our jewelry store in Swansea to check out our collections. We have new gemstones coming in all the time, or we can find something unusual for you.
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