Sapphires have been popular since ancient times, but they have never been as hot as they are now. When Prince William of England, son of the beloved late Princess Diana, proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton, with his mother’s 18-carat diamond-studded Sapphire engagement ring, the world went wild for Sapphire. Of course, Sapphires had also shot to popularity when Princess Diana first wore the ring in the 1980’s, but Kate Middleton’s status as an international fashion icon, as evidenced by the royal-blue Issa dress she wore to highlight the gorgeous blue color of her ring, has catapulted sales of the gemstone to never-before-seen heights. No longer just the September birthstone, the Sapphire is now one of the most popular and sought-after stones for necklaces, earrings, and engagement rings. As the stone represents the important but old-fashioned qualities of sincerity and faithfulness, it seems only right that it receive its royal turn in the spotlight.
Where do Sapphires come from? In reality, a gemstone-quality Sapphire is simply one variety of the mineral corundum, which is also the mineral that Rubies are derived from. Any gemstone-quality corundum that isn’t red is considered a Sapphire, so Sapphires can actually come in many colors besides blue, including pink, yellow, and even green and white (clear). One extremely rare color type, the orange-pink corundum, is known as the Padparadscha Sapphire. Google it—it’s beautiful. The non-blue Sapphires are called Fancy Sapphires. The most valued Sapphire color, however, is that deep medium blue, typically called “cornflower blue” that is the well-known September birthstone color, due to the presence of small amounts of titanium and iron within the crystal structure. Another way to wear it is a little more unusual~ the Star Sapphire is one with tiny inclusions shaped like needles, which give it an optical property known as asterism, or a star-like appearance. This star shape appears most prominently in a cabochon cut (rounded smooth, no facets) and can have between six and twelve rays or even a cats-eye effect with a single thin band of light down the middle of the stone. Star and lab-created Sapphires are very affordable and easy to find!
The ancient Greeks believed the Sapphire to symbolize wisdom and purity, and reserved them for kings and priests. They believed the world itself was set upon a giant Sapphire, whose color could be seen in the late summer sky. Greeks believed that the visible sky was actually an incredibly large Sapphire that the Earth was somehow wrapped inside of! Other ancient cultures believed Sapphires could protect the wearer from envious enemies and poisoning, and even that a poisonous snake could be killed by being placed near a Sapphire. Ancient doctors even ground the birthstone of September into a powder and used it to treat rheumatism, depression and eye problems. And here is my secret, dear readers, I am a Virgo and this is my stone. I have a special affection for it. My favorite way of describing my Sapphire color is: remember the last spectacular sunset you watched, now tilt your head up, that blue between the sunset and the indigo of night is the perfect color. That is my Sapphire.
Fun Factoids: The famous medieval female (not many of them!) religious cleric Hildegard of Bingen wrote about the incredible healing powers of Sapphires in her well-regarded book of medicine, in which she claimed that Sapphires had special powers from God and could help improve the intellect....