The sapphire is September’s birthstone. There’s an ancient belief that those born this month can benefit from its mysterious powers – health, intelligence and truth – if they wear it as an amulet. Whether you choose to believe in birthstone lore or not, the fact is that the sapphire has always been a gem coveted by the rich, the famous and the powerful. In this article:
- The sapphire’s fascinating history
- Ancient birthstone beliefs
- Mining origin
- How many colours sapphires come in
- What mineral the sapphire is formed from
- Sapphire’s modern uses
- Sapphire engagement rings and gifts
The goddess with blue sapphire eyes
ONE of the most fascinating sapphire legends comes from the Far East.
More than two millennia ago, a people called Khmer lived in Burma, now Myanmar. Their biggest temple was dedicated to the Golden Goddess, Tsun-Kyan-Kse, who had blue sapphire eyes.
The story goes that inside the temple, under the Golden Goddesses’ protection, lived hundreds of brown and black temple cats. One of them, a dark brown cat, was called Sinh. He was the devoted pet of the temple’s wisest monk, the Grand Lama.
One fateful night, while the Grand Lama prayed alone, the temple was attacked by Thai invaders. In cold blood, they murdered the Grand Lama.
That’s when Sinh, the Lama’s faithful cat, put his paws on his dear master’s body and lifted his gaze to the statue of the Golden Goddess which stood in the middle of the temple.
Instantly, an incredible transformation took place. Sihn’s dark fur turned golden, and his eyes became two blazing blue sapphires. Instantly, the powerful magic drove away the enemies, never to return again.
That’s why, the legend claims, to this day the Birman cat is known for its sapphire-blue gaze.
A gem with divine reputation
Considered the finest of all colourful gemstones, the sapphire doesn’t just feature in Asian mythology, but also in many European and Near Eastern history books and religious texts.
In Greek mythology for example, one of the Titans stole a sapphire from Zeus. The story highlights how valuable these gemstones were to the ancient Greeks.
In fact, the word “sapphire” originates from the Greek sappheiros, meaning “precious stone”.
In ancient Persia, people believed that the earth was supported by a giant sapphire that reflected its blue colour onto the sky.
In the Bible, the gemstone is mentioned as one of the “twelve stones of fire” that were given to Moses and set into the breastplate of Aaron.
Astrologists consider the sapphire to be a gem with healing properties. It’s said to encourage truth, loyalty, wisdom and clear thinking. Especially when worn by those born in September or under the star sign of Virgo.
Many also believe it can cure physical ailments, especially eye infections, headaches, ear ache and thyroid problems.
In ancient Greece and Rome, royalty wore blue sapphires because they believed the stone could protect their owners from the evil intentions of their enemies.
What are sapphires and where are they mined?
This gemstone belongs to the corundum mineral family, which also includes rubies. Therefore, the name “sapphire” can describe any corundum gemstone that is not “ruby red”.
Although not quite as hard as diamonds, the sapphire is extremely resilient and durable. That’s why it’s so perfect for use in fine jewellery like engagement rings which are worn daily for a lifetime.
Sapphires are mined on the Asian, Australian, African and South American continents. However, the ones from Thailand or Ceylon are generally regarded as the finest because of their vivid hues and exceptional clarity.
Tons of earth needs to be shifted to find just a few sapphires. Rough sapphires often look dull and dark until they are cut and polished into beautiful gems.
Sapphires come in many colours
The best-known sapphires are blue. However, the gem comes in a rainbow of colours.
The only colour it cannot exist in is red, because red corundum is called ruby.
- Pink sapphire: any shade of pink except “ruby red”
- Padparadscha: a rare orange gem named after a lotus blossom
- Yellow sapphire: iron makes this gemstone yellow
- Star sapphire: has a star-like marking inside the gem
- Green sapphire: with iron pigmentation, same as yellow sapphires
Sapphires in engagement rings
Sapphire is the most popular engagement ring gem after the diamond. They first became popular in ancient Greece and Rome because they symbolized loyalty and truth.
In the 18th century, a popular French writer called Madame de Genlis wrote a story called Le Saphir Merveilleux, or “The Marvellous Sapphire”. The story was so popular that soon the sapphire became a very fashionable gem among wealthy European couples.
Today the most famous sapphire engagement ring is the Duchess of Cambridge’s blue sapphire ring, which Prince William gave her when he proposed to her in Africa. The ring originally belonged to his mother, Lady Diana.
Sapphires are extremely durable, beautiful and valuable. For this reason, they make perfect, lasting gift jewellery for all kinds of big and small occasions. The traditional Sapphire Wedding Anniversary is the 45th one. And of course in September (or for anyone born under the sign of Virgo) sapphire is the ultimate meaningful birthday gift.
Discover best jewellery & gifts at TheDiamondStore.co.uk.