From Princess Diana's engagement ring to the Star of India, the September birthstone has lived up to its legendary reputation as one of the world's four major precious gemstones. Best known for its rich blue color, sapphires appear in a variety of hues and cuts; each one perfectly designed for any type of special occasion. Whether you're thinking about taking the next step with your partner or want to celebrate that significant September birthday in your life, take a closer look at one of the world's most well-known gemstones.
What Are Sapphires?
Sapphires generally describe the blue variety of the naturally occurring mineral, corundum. However, these stones can come in a variety of colors including yellow, pink, green, white, purple, and black, though blue is the most widely found hue. Much like rubies -- their red corundum counterparts -- sapphires rank significantly higher than many other stones do on the Mohs hardness scale at a 9.0, making them particularly great stones for everyday use. Yet, raw harvests of these gems don't often come jewelry store ready, and most of them are heat treated to both enrich the stones' natural deep blue colors and to remove inclusions in the stones that can muddle their clarity.
Sapphires Throughout History
As with many iconic gemstones, sapphires have been harvested and incorporated into everyday dress and religious ceremony by human civilization for thousands of years. Ancient societies like the Greeks used the stones to gain favor with their gods, and Medieval cultures outfitted their most holy places with them due to their association with the stone as a heavenly beacon. However, reverence for these stones was not limited to the past, as you can see in the slew of modern people wearing bracelets, earrings, and rings decorated with glittering sapphires.
The Story Behind the September Birthstone
Given that the original birthstone list has deep roots with historic religious practices, there are some stones that were once associated with a different month of the year than they currently are attached to. Sapphires are one such stone in that both diamonds and sapphires were said to represent the month of April according to the original list, but the 1912 birthstone list released by the National Jewelers Association moved sapphires to September. This quick switch is where sapphires first became linked with September babies.
Sapphire Properties and Symbology
Metaphysically, sapphires are supposed to have a good number of mental and physical benefits. Firstly, its deep connections to the throat and brow chakras prime sapphires to be able to cure your sore throats, coughs, and headaches. Similarly, the stone's spiritual powers rests in wisdom, so wearing these stones should help enhance your mental clarity and creativity.
How to Shop For the September Birthstone
There's an easy saying when shopping for diamonds that instructs you to look for the four 'c's' - cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. Shopping for sapphires isn't really any different from shopping for diamonds, but the most important aspect to assess when looking at sapphires on display is their color. Like rubies and emeralds, color is the driving force behind a sapphire's appeal, and stones that have the signature cornflower color can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Similarly, finding inclusions in these stones isn't necessarily a bad thing; when aligned properly, these inclusions can create starbursts inside the sapphires which shine outwards from within. The infamous Star of India is one such stone; more recent, expensive stones which have entered the market include the Richelieu Sapphire, which sold for nearly $8.5 million dollars, and a Burmese sapphire that sold for a little over $7 million. All that being said, there are absolutely affordable sapphires you can purchase, some which cost as little as $25 a carat.
How to Care For Sapphire Jewelry
Given the sapphire's impressive hardness, they're one of the few stones that can actually handle being cleaned with both ultrasonic and steam cleaners. However, you can always freshen up your bright blue stones using a mild soap and water mixture and dig in deep between the crevasses with a soft toothbrush. Once you're finished cleaning your stones, you can polish them with a sapphire-safe polish and a microfiber cloth. Storing sapphires can be a bit tricky, though, because their hardness makes them dangerous to most other stones, but they're still susceptible to being scratched by diamonds. If you really want to protect your precious jewelry, try securing your sapphires in a velvet or cotton cloth bag and/or a jewelry box tucked away from other gems.
Sapphires Aren't Exclusive to September Babies
In spite of their traditional attachment to September, sapphires aren't exclusively meant for those born in the ninth month of the year. Anyone with a love for a durable gemstone that sparkles and shines will get a lot of wear out of a well-chosen sapphire necklace, ring, or set of earrings. So, even if you aren't a September baby, don't be afraid to mix up your jewelry box with a little sapphire addition; after all, blue has never looked so good on you!