Sapphire, the birthstone for September, is a variety of the gem species Corundum and comes in all the colors of the rainbow. Pink, purple, green, orange, yellow, and blue are all colors that sapphires are available. I did say that sapphires are available in all colors of the rainbow yet I neglected to mention red as a color for sapphires. That is because red Corundum is known as ruby, not sapphire. That means that rubies and sapphires are in the same family of gemstones and share the same characteristics.
Corundum is the crystalline form of aluminum oxide (Al2O3) and it is trace elements found in the crystal that gives sapphires (and rubies) their unique colors. The most desirable and most common color for sapphire is blue. The most sought after shades of blue sapphires are a medium to medium dark blue, or slightly violet-blue.
Some of the very first gemstones to ever be cut and polished were sapphires. Sapphires are one of the most durable gemstones and are a great alternative to diamond for everyday wear. Gemstones are rated on their ability to withstand surface scratching using the Mohs scale of hardness. Diamond is at the top of the scale rated a 10, but sapphires are rated a 9 indicating excellent durability. Being such a durable material, sapphires are used in a number of industrial and consumer applications such as abrasives, movement bearings, and even watch crystals!
The word sapphire is derived from the Greek word “sappheiros” meaning “precious stone”. Being one of the four precious stones used as gemstones (diamond, ruby, sapphire, and emerald), sapphires have been sought after since the middle ages. Medieval clergy wore sapphire jewelry to symbolize heaven and to attract heavenly blessings. According to mystic lore, sapphires are associated with sincerity, constancy, and honesty.
Sapphires became a leader in the renaissance of gemstone bridal jewelry when Prince Charles of Great Britain gave Lady Diana Spencer an engagement ring with a 18 carat oval cut sapphire ring surrounded by diamonds in February, 1981. The sapphire at the time was valued at $300,000! As most of you know by now, this ring was then given to Kate Middleton from Prince William at their engagement.
Today most of the high quality sapphires on the market come from Australia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and China. A little known fact is that sapphires can also be found in the United States! A greenish blue sapphire can be found in Montana. Known as the Yogo sapphire for the area in Montana in which they are found (Yogo Gulch), they are often priced at a premium due to the rarity of the best colored stones.
Another unusual colored sapphire unique to a specific geographic region is the Padparadscha sapphire. These pinky-orange sapphires are found in Sri Lanka and Vietnam and get their name from the Sanskrit word for lotus blossom whose color this sapphire mimics.
Sapphires are a dynamic gemstone coming from many places and found in many colors. Which is your favorite? Stop in and choose!