September’s birthstone: Sapphire
September’s birthstone is sapphire. If you’re a September baby, then lucky you – regal and stylish, there’s a variety of this gorgeous gemstone to suit everyone.
The word sapphire comes from the ancient Greek sappheiros meaning ‘blue’, which itself comes from a Hebrew word meaning ‘precious gem’ and possibly from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘dark coloured’.
It’s probably the case that when someone says ‘sapphire’, you think of a deep blue gemstone, but did you know that sapphires occur in many different colours? With blue, pink, green, yellow, orange, purple, black and even colourless to choose from, you won’t be stuck for a sapphire to match your favourite outfit.
September’s birthstone doesn’t come in red, though, and that’s because red sapphires are actually…rubies! Both sapphire and ruby are varieties of the mineral corundum and all corundum’s various colours are caused by different chemical elements within it. For example, titanium and iron in the corundum give rise to an intense blue sapphire, and trace amounts of vanadium produce sapphires of a purple hue.
After blue sapphires, the padparadscha is the most prized ‘fancy’ sapphire. Padparadscha means ‘lotus flower’ in Sinhalese, one of the native languages of Sri Lanka and was named because the gem has the same gorgeous salmon-pink colour of the blossom.
Corundum is the second hardest mineral after diamond—9 on the Mohs scale of hardness—which makes it a great choice of gemstone to wear in rings that are prone to knocks and scratches
If you’ve chosen sapphire for an engagement ring, you’re in famous company. The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, wears the engagement ring that famously once belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales—a 12-carat, cornflower-blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds. Princess Eugenie’s engagement ring too, is a sapphire – a stunning, peach-coloured padparadscha.
Another reason to slip a sapphire on your beloved’s finger is that sapphire symbolises fidelity and sincerity when used in an engagement ring!
Sapphire can occur as a phenomenal gemstone—a gemstone that displays certain optical effects. A sapphire with asterism (a so-called ‘star sapphire’) will seem to have a six-rayed star floating across the surface of the stone; a colour-change sapphire will appear to turn another colour in different lighting conditions and a bi-coloured or ‘parti’ sapphire (typically found in Australia) displays two colours within the stone regardless of the light source.
Not only September’s birthstone, sapphire is also the traditional gift for a 45th wedding anniversary and a 65th jubilee.
Some practitioners of alternative therapies use sapphire to promote the immune system and impart clarity and wisdom to their patients. Whether or not you believe in the healing properties of gemstones, September’s birthstone certainly makes it a wise choice!
Kim Rix, GG (GIA)
Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence