September's Birthstone: The Beautiful Blue Sapphire
For ages, blue sapphires have been associated with royalty, romance, and even the divine! During the Middle Ages, clergy wore blue sapphires to symbolize heaven. At different times in history, blue sapphires have been associated with powers to protect against envy and harm, to guard chastity, and to reveal the secrets of oracles.
The name "sapphire" comes from the Greek word "sappherios," which is thought to refer to the color blue of the rock lapis lazuli. Although not all sapphires are blue (they come in almost every color of the rainbow), when the word sapphire is used alone without a color reference, consumers as well as those in the jewelry trade typically mean blue sapphire.
Sapphires and rubies are varieties of the same gem species: corundum. When the corundum is red, it is ruby. When blue, it is sapphire. When the corundum is any color other than red or blue, it is referred to as a "fancy sapphire." Fancy sapphires come in violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and intermediate hues. Fancy sapphires also can be colorless, gray, black, or brown.
Star sapphires characteristically exhibit a star with six rays; medieval Christians thought that the three intersecting bands that formed the star represented the spritual virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.
Some sapphires even exhibit the phenomenon known as color change, usually showing blue in daylight and fluorescent light to purple in incandescent light. Finally, some sapphires are parti-colored stones, which means that they show a combination of different colors.
Sapphire is the US birthstone for September, and traditionally it is associated with blue sapphire. Popular alternative birthstones for September are Chrysoberyl, Iolite, Spinel, Tanzanite, London Blue Topaz, Tourmaline, and Zircon.
Sapphire is an excellent gem for use in jewelry because of its excellent hardness - 9 on Mohs scale - and usually excellent toughness. Stones with large fractures or inclusions, and some treated sapphires, can be less durable.
Sapphires are mined in many areas of the world including the United States. Kashmir, India is the famous historic source of fine blue sapphire, but now production is very limited.
Sapphires can be damaged by environmental factors, and care must be taken when doing repairs on sapphire jewelry, especially when dealing with treated sapphires, which are very common since experts estimate that almost 95% of sapphires sold in the marketplace have been heat treated to improve color and clarity. High heat can cause a change in color or clarity, and also can damage or destroy fracture and cavity fillings (though fracture-filled and cavity-filled sapphires are not common). Irradiated sapphires are also not common, but it is important to know that irradiated yellow or orange sapphires can fade quickly in light. Chemicals can damage even untreated sapphires by etching the surface.
It is usually safe to clean sapphire fine jewelry in an ultrasonic or steam cleaner unless they are fracture- or cavity-filled stones. The safest cleaning method is to clean sapphire jewelry in warm soapy water. It is recommended to use a mild non-detergent soap and avoid vigorous scrubbing, which could damage oiled sapphires.
Natural untreated blue sapphire cabochon ring by Robert Lang $995
14kt white gold setting
Sapphire weight = 0.77 carats
Total diamond weight = 0.16 carats
Size 7 - custom sizing available
The sapphire is high gem quality in color, translucency, and polish. The cabochon is a high dome. Not shown in the above image, the sapphire displays lovely, tiny "silk" reflections of scattered light in sunlight and fluorescent lighting (although the reflections of light do not form a pattern, the adularescence, or sheen, is similar to the type of phenomenon seen in star sapphires, but much smaller and slighter in effect throughout the stone in comparison).
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