The Birthstone of September is Sapphire, a legendary gemstone that has captured imaginations for centuries. As September’s birthstone, this gemstone is famous for its beautiful blue hues that span from the palest sky blue to the deepest navy.
But this gemstone also naturally occurs in other rich colors, from fiery orange to pretty pink. Beyond aesthetics, legends, and lore surround gemstones, endowing it with wisdom, focus, and spiritual virtues. As a durable gemstone suited for jewelry, it is perfect for September birthdays.
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Range of Vivid Blue Hues
September’s Birthstone’s most famous color is its vivid blue which ranges from:
- Light sky blue
- Bright royal blue
- Deep cornflower blue
- Mysterious navy blue
The blue color arises from the presence of trace amounts of iron and titanium within the corundum crystal structure. Without these trace elements, corundum would otherwise be colorless.
The most prized and valuable shade of this gemstone is an intense velvety blue with a faint violet undertone. Fancy-colored gemstones in shades besides blue are referred to as “fancy sapphires.” Their value depends more on the intensity and purity of their color over the actual hue.
Other Natural Color Varieties
While famous for blue, this gemstone also naturally occurs in an array of other rich colors:
- Fiery orange
- Sunny yellow
- Verdant green
- Violet and purple
- Fuchsia pink
Specific fancy colors include:
- Padparadscha: A rare orange-pink stone that exhibits the best qualities of ruby and blue sapphire. The name means “lotus flower” in Sinhala and relates to the color’s resemblance to certain lotus blossoms.
- Yellow sapphire: Ranging from pale lemon to rich golden honey tones. Associated with focus, wealth, and prosperity.
- Star sapphire: Exhibits a luminous star across the top of the stone when cut as a cabochon. Caused by light reflecting from needle-like rutile inclusions.
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- Color change sapphire: Exhibits different colors in different lighting, often going from blue to violet or pink. A highly desired and valuable trait.
The Significance and Lore of September’s Birthstone
Beyond beauty, September’s Birthstone is steeped in symbolism, lore and significance:
- In ancient Greece, kings and priests carried sapphires to get answers from the oracle and as protection from harm.
- Buddhists believed gemstones brought spiritual enlightenment, inner peace, and mental clarity.
- European kings in the Middle Ages wore gemstones to symbolize wisdom and virtue.
- Legend says that Moses received the Ten Commandments written on tablets of sapphire stone.
- September’s Birthstone represents focus, discipline, and achieving clarity of thought.
- Believed to attract divine favor, prosperity, and happiness.
Historical texts indicate that they were one of the earliest gemstones traded by humans, with trading routes established as early as 600 B.C.
Engagement Rings and Jewelry
Long valued in ceremonial rings and jewelry, highlights include:
- Sapphire engagement rings grew in popularity after Princess Diana wore one in 1981.
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- Kate Middleton also wears Princess Diana’s iconic engagement ring.
- Sapphire necklaces were worn by kings and clergy throughout the Middle Ages.
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- Priests wore gemstone fingerrings as symbols of spiritual commitment.
- September’s Birthstone bracelets adorned the wrists of ladies of medieval European courts.
- Sapphire brooches and hairpins were popular Victorian jewelry pieces.
This gemstone is especially suitable for engagement rings and jewelry meant to be worn every day because of its durability.
Like all gemstones, sapphires are evaluated on certain quality factors:
- Hue, saturation, and tone are judged. Medium blue to medium dark tones with vivid saturation are ideal. Light colors are cheaper.
- High clarity with no visible inclusions is best, but at least a loupe clean is preferred. Inclusions can affect durability.
- Should exhibit excellent polish and symmetry to maximize light return and sparkle. Traditional cuts include oval, cushion, and round.
- Larger gemstones are exponentially more valuable and rare. Most engagement rings have stones between 1-3 carats.
- Most gemstones undergo heat treatment to improve color and clarity. Disclose any other treatments like diffusion or beryllium.
Evaluating cut quality and inspecting inclusions requires magnified examination by a jeweler.
The Mohs Scale and Durability
September’s Birthstone ranks high on the Mohs Scale, a gauge of mineral hardness:
- It has a rating of 9 out of 10 on the Mohs Scale.
- Diamonds are the only naturally occurring gemstone that is harder, with a rating of 10.
- This hardness makes it very resistant to scratches, chips, and cracks.
- Ideal for jewelry used frequently like engagement rings and bracelets.
September’s Birthstone has excellent toughness and durability for long-lasting jewelry heirlooms.
Caring For Your Jewelry
While durable, some care is required to keep jewelry looking its best:
- Clean jewelry in warm water with a mild liquid detergent using a soft cloth or brush.
- Avoid harsh household cleaners and chemicals which can erode metals and damage stones.
- Store sapphire jewelry separately in a fabric-lined box to prevent scratches.
- Remove sapphire rings, earrings, and bracelets before physical activities like gardening, sports, or sleep.
- Avoid exposure to extreme heat which can cause settings to warp.
Have jewelry professionally inspected annually and re-set prongs as needed to secure stones.
Where Found and Mined
While September’s Birthstone forms in different geological conditions, major deposits are found in:
- Sri Lanka
- Montana USA
- East Africa (Tanzania and Kenya)
Kashmir sapphires from northwest India are exceptionally rare and prized for their intense velvety blue color.
These gemstones form in the same conditions as rubies but lack the trace elements that produce ruby’s red color. They are found in the eroded gravels of ancient stream beds and igneous rock formations. Mining methods include pit mining, dredging, and tunneling underground.
Buying Ethical Sapphires
Consumers should seek all gemstones from ethical and environmentally responsible sources. To ensure sapphire mining doesn’t fund conflict, insist on proper documentation of a gem’s origin and transit history. Support suppliers adhering to labor and environmental standards.
Ask jewelers about responsible sourcing when custom designing rings. Opt for bench jewelers that use fair trade gems or synthetic stones when appropriate.
Treatment and Synthetics
- Most gemstones are heat-treated to enhance color and clarity. This is considered a standard process and acceptable with disclosure.
- Be wary of gemstones advertised as “untreated” which is exceptionally rare.
- Other treatments like diffusion and radiation are considered deceptive without disclosure.
- Lab-created synthetic gemstones have identical properties for a fraction of the price. They provide an ethical alternative.
Reputable sellers will disclose any treatments or origin of synthetic stones. Get appraisal documentation for valuable pieces.
Unique Engagement Ring Designs
Looking for a more unique engagement ring? Here are some special design styles that stand out from classic solitaires:
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- Halo setting: A ring of smaller diamonds surrounds the center gemstone. This makes the stone appear larger.
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- Three-stone ring: Contains three gemstones that represent the couple’s past, present, and future together. Often uses two accent diamonds or rubies alongside the stone.
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- Vintage inspired: Has an antique look with embellished engraving, filigree details, and intricate metalwork. Rose gold pairs nicely with blue sapphire.
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- Split band: The band is split underneath the stone, giving the illusion the stone is floating. A modern, unique look.
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- Sidestone band: Alternating sapphires and diamonds run down both sides of the band for maximum sparkle.
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- Paved setting: The entire band is paved with tiny diamonds or other accent gems for an embellished glittery look.
Jewelry Gift Ideas
Besides engagement rings, sapphire makes a memorable birthstone gift. Gift ideas include:
- Stud earrings to match a ring
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- Vintage-inspired drop earrings
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- A tennis bracelet with blue stones
- A necklace pendant with diamond accents
- His and her rings
- A right-hand ring for yourself
For symbolic meaning, give September’s Birthstone to inspire wisdom, clarity, and prosperity.
Some of the world’s most famous stones include:
- The Rockefeller Sapphire: Brought to the US in 1934 by John D. Rockefeller; a 62.02-carat gem.
- The Star of India: The world’s largest star sapphire at 563 carats. On display at the AMNH.
- The Bismarck Sapphire: A 98.56-carat cabochon stone with a distinctive golden sheen.
- The Ruspoli Sapphire: At 135.4 carats, this is one of the largest stones in the world.
- The Logan Sapphire: 423-carat stone was gifted to the Smithsonian in 1960, the heaviest blue sapphire in the collection.
- Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring: A 12-carat Ceylon oval stone, currently worn by Kate Middleton.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes sapphire blue?
Trace amounts of iron and titanium within the corundum structure cause the vivid blue color. Varying elements produce all the other hues like pink, yellow, and green.
What is more expensive, sapphire or diamond?
Per carat, fine-quality diamonds are generally more expensive than even high-quality blue sapphires. However, extremely large or rare fancy sapphires can be exponentially more expensive than smaller diamonds.
Are sapphires good for engagement rings?
September’s Birthstone is an excellent choice for engagement rings because of its hardness and durability. Their beautiful colors stand out among colorless diamonds. They also have special symbolic meaning.
How can you tell a real sapphire?
A real natural sapphire will show inclusions under magnification that indicate it formed within the earth. Synthetic gemstones are also real, just artificially produced. Lab reports can authenticate the quality ratings of any gemstone.
What is a star sapphire?
A star sapphire exhibits a luminous star pattern when cut into a cabochon shape. Light reflects off tiny, parallel rutile crystal inclusions to create this rare effect. The Star of India is one of the most famous examples.
Should I buy an untreated sapphire?
It is extremely rare to find a natural sapphire that has not been heat-treated to enhance its clarity and color. Untreated gemstones demand a huge premium over comparable treated gems. Reputable enhancement methods like heat treatment do not affect durability or value.
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