Discovery

If You Were Born in September, Here’s Why Sapphire is Your Birthstone

By: Shmukler Design

From the people who ascend to modern American royalty to those who are born into actual royalty in nations like the United Kingdom, sapphire is viewed as one of the most regal gemstones on earth. In addition, sapphire — which is commercially mined here the United States and abroad — also happens to be the birthstone for anyone born in the month of September.

Sapphire ring deconstructed.

Synonymous with a deep blue color, there are other variations of sapphire to be aware of. Being one of two varieties of corundum (the other being ruby, which is one of July’s birthstones), the other colors associated with sapphires are gray, colorless, black, and a pinkish-orange variety called padparadscha, which is named for a variety of lotus blossom.

History of Sapphire

For centuries, sapphires have decorated those of royal standing and the robes of the clergy. Clerics in the Middle Ages prized the sapphire as a symbol of heaven, while ancient Persians believed that the sky’s blue hue was due to the earth resting atop a giant  sapphire gem.

Historians tell us that that sapphires have been mined in Sri Lanka for more than 2,000 years, while the first documented modern discovery of a major sapphire deposit was in 1881 in Kashmir — discovered when a landslide in the Himalayas exposed a large amount of the stunning blue crystals. Until 1887, Kashmir was the premiere producer of sapphires, but that has slowed in the decades since. Currently, most sapphires come from Sri Lanka, Burma, Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Madagascar.

Here in the United States, there are four known sapphire deposits, all of which are located in the southwestern portion of Montana. Specifically, sapphire is found along Montana’s upper Missouri River’s gravel bars (first discovered in 1865 and still actively mined today), in Dry Cottonwood Creek (discovered in 1889 and actively mined today), at Rock Creek (discovered in 1892 but now inactive), and in the Yogo Gulch (discovered in 1895 with no current mining activity to speak of).

Royalty and Romance

British royalty spanning generations — most recently Queen Elizabeth II (b. 4/21/26 – ), Princess Diana (b. 7/1/61 – d. 8/31/97), and Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge (b. 1/9/82 – ) — are all said to be enamored by September’s birthstone. While none of those three women were born in September, they are just the latest in the extensive list of royals who love wearing sapphires.

In fact, Princess Diana’s engagement ring — created by the then-crown jeweler Garrard — consisted of a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds set in 18-karat white gold, and is the same ring her son — Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge — used to propose to Catherine Elizabeth Middleton in late-October of 2010. Fittingly, sapphire is seen as a deeply romantic stone, and it has become the benchmark for those celebrating a fifth or 45th wedding anniversary.

Finished sapphire ring

When it comes to those dubbed as American royalty, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. — the world’s first confirmed U.S. dollar billionaire — purchased a 62.02 carat sapphire from an Indian maharaja rumored to be the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1934, setting it first as a brooch and later as a ring. Now known as the Rockefeller Sapphire, this rectangular-cut stone is flanked by cut-cornered triangular-cut diamonds, mounted in platinum, and is estimated to be worth approximately $5,000,000.

Sapphire Legends and Symbolism

Sapphire, one of six  birthstones to have a month of its own, has traditionally been a symbol of truth, sincerity, loyalty, faithfulness, romantic yearning, and nobility. Like most gems, sapphire also has its fair share of purported healing powers, including the following:

  • Medieval Europeans regarded the sapphire as a cure for eye diseases and plague boils. It was also believed to be an antidote to poison.
  • An old Italian superstition held that sapphire was not just a cure for eye diseases, but also for melancholy.
  • In Ancient Greece and Rome, the elite class believed that sapphires could protect their owners from harm and envy.

The name “sapphire” is thought to come from the Greek word sappheiros, which literally means “a blue stone.” Some linguists, however, believe the name came from a Sanskrit phrase that translates to “dear to Saturn.”

Cleaning and Care of a Sapphire

Perhaps one of the reasons sapphires are favored for jewelry that lasts generations is its durability. Sapphire is a 9 on the Mohs scale, meaning it is extremely tough. It also has no cleavage, which is a gem’s tendency to break when struck. And while all of this means it’s a wonderful choice for daily wear, sapphire must be well maintained to ensure its color or clarity.

Before you buy a sapphire, always ask if it is treatedor untreated. Treated sapphire, which is very common, has been exposed to extremely high temperatures, which permanently enhances the stone’s clarity and color. Untreated sapphire indicates that the gemstone in question is completely natural (i.e., not created in a laband hasn’t been subjected to any heat or chemical treatments). If you’re in the market for a sapphire and you can afford it, untreated may be the way to go. That’s because untreated sapphire is more difficult to find, making it rare and therefore more valuable than one that’s already been treated. There’s a tradeoff though. Untreated sapphire tends to be dull and less vibrant that its treated brethren.

Here at Shmukler Design, a Southern California-based custom jeweler, we believe the safest and best way to maintain sapphires is to clean them with a soft cloth and warm, soapy water. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are safe for untreated sapphires, but once they’re treated, switch to the warm water method.

For more information about sapphires — or to create a setting that makes them stand out and sparkle — please call us at (949) 870-9915. Or use the online contact form on the Shmukler Design website.

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