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September's Birthstone: The Sassy Sapphire

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I love the color blue, and I love that my sister's birthday is in September. She gets a beautiful birthstone piece from me almost every year. The sapphire is such a rich blue color; it works so well against almost any skin tone or color, and it looks great set in a yellow or white metal as well. Those born during the ninth month are lucky to have such a gorgeous stone for their birthstone.

The History of the Sapphire

It was believed to protect the wearer from harm, so royalty throughout ancient Rome and Greece wore the sapphire both for its beauty and for protection. Because of the beautiful blue color of the stone, which reminded them of the sky, clergy during the Middle Ages wore the sapphire on their robes and in their headpieces to represent Heaven and blessings. This is where the term "royal blue" originated. They also believed that the stone represented faith, truth, honesty, and decency. During other times throughout history, it was worn for other reasons; it was believed to be able to influence spirits, guard the purity of the wearer, bring peace among people, and reveal prophesies.

The Colors of the Sapphire

When someone says the word "sapphire," they are usually talking about the blue sapphire, which is the most common color for the gemstone. The word actually comes from the Greek word for lapis lazuli (another blue stone), "sappheiros." Throughout history, when anyone has referred to the sapphire, they were most likely taking about the blue variety, but there are many other colors in which the gemstone can be found, including the white sapphire, which is colorless, the yellow or golden sapphire, the pink sapphire, the orange sapphire, and an orange-pinkish color that is referred to as padparadscha. There's also the green sapphire, the purple sapphire, and the black sapphire. This stone comes in red, too, but red sapphires actually have another name: rubies.

Sapphire Mining

The majority of sapphires are mined in Australia, Madagascar, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malawi, Tanzania, and the U.S., mostly in Montana. The famous Kashmir blue sapphire was found in that region between Pakistan and India, but the supply has been depleted.

The Powerful Properties of the Sapphire

Sapphire is the birthstone for September and for the astrological sign Taurus. It was once thought that if a Taurus wore the stone, they would be protected from mental disorders. Symbolizing loyalty and honesty, the deep blue gemstone is also thought to bring happiness and knowledge to its wearer. Long ago, many night-time travelers would wear the stone for protection, believing it to be a talisman that warded off evil spirits. Hildegard of Bingen wrote a book called Physica that included material about the sapphire and how to take advantage of its purported healing properties.

Interesting Sapphire Facts

The sapphire is a very durable stone, having a rating of 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. It is such a hard stone that only a diamond can scratch it. Because of this durability, Apple uses a type of glass screen that features created sapphire in its smart watches. Another interesting fact about sapphires is that before the diamond engagement ring was all the rage, gemstone engagement rings were more popular, including sapphire rings.

Famous Sapphires

When Napoleon Bonaparte married Josephine in the late 1700s, he gave her a sapphire and diamond ring, including a pear-shaped stone of each type. Another famous sapphire ring that is still being worn today is the ring that Prince Charles gave Diana when he asked her to marry him in England in 1981. The 18-carat oval blue sapphire, surrounded by diamonds on all sides, is being worn by her daughter-in-law today: Prince William, Diana's oldest son, asked the former Kate Middleton to marry him with his mother's breathtaking engagement ring.