A handy guide for those beautiful September birthstones; sapphire.
Sapphires are symbols of royalty and have been long associated with abundance, blessings and gifts. Perhaps the most notable of royal sapphires has to be that of the ring Prince Charles gave Lady Diana for their engagement; which has since gone on to be worn by the Duchess of Cambridge. Worn for years by royalty and clergymen; the stone was said to protect them from those who wished them harm. Clerics in the middle ages adorned sapphires with their robes as they believed the stone to symbolise Heaven. Ancient Persians believe the Earth actually rested on a giant sapphire, which made the sky blue!
When you hear the word ‘sapphire’ many think of a deep blue stone, which is of course correct however the colour does not stop here. Sapphires can come in many different colours including pink, yellow, white, green and black. Although, you will not find a red sapphire, this is because sapphire is actually a type of stone called corundum and a red corundum is a ruby! The types of sapphires that aren’t blue are known as ‘fancy sapphires’ and their popularity rose during the 1990s when new sources were found in Africa boosting their existing supply.
Some of our more interesting sapphires
As with all other gemstones the 4 C’s are important. When it comes to blue sapphires the crucial feature is the colour. The best colour when looking for a sapphire is a intense, royal, velvety blue. There is also a a strong appreciation for a ‘cornflower’ blue sapphire. Many feel this is the purest and most true blue you can find. In blue sapphires, the cut can influence the colour in many ways. Sapphires are dichroic stones - meaning the colour varies depending on the angle at which the stone is viewed. Perhaps from one direction the stone appears blue to violet-blue and from another a more greenish blue will appear. A skilled cutter will orient their stones when cutting so that the deep royal blue shows through the finished stone.
Blue sapphires that are ‘eye-clean’ eg. Entirely free of inclusions are uncommon, especially in larger sizes and command a higher price. It is extremely common for blue sapphires to have inclusions but in some cases in can be a plus - Kashmir sapphires (known to be extremely beautiful) contain tiny inclusions which give a rich velvety appearance to the stone. However, if the inclusions mean the durability of the stone decreases then as does the value.
It’s important to ask about treatment when buying sapphires. Many sapphires on todays market have been treated by heat or lattice diffusion to alter their colour, but this can affect the value of the stone. Lattice diffusion can create a vivid colour but stones that have been treated this way are less valuable than heated sapphires. Before buying a sapphire always ask if it’s heat treated and by what method.
The September birthstone rates a 9 on the MOHS Scale - it has an excellent toughness and no cleavage (a tendency to break when struck). This makes the sapphire a great choice when opting for a every day stone (an engagement ring perhaps..). Warm soapy water is always a safe choice when cleaning your stone. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe for untreated, heat treated and lattice diffusion treated stones. If you’re unsure please come in store and we can clean your beautiful stone for you.
How lucky you are to be a September baby!