Part of a series of articles about birthstones.
Sapphire, the birthstone for the month of September, is a beautiful gemstone that comes in a wide array of colors with the most popular being blue. Indeed, it is widely held that the word ”sapphire” is derived from the Latin word “Saphirus” and Greek word “Sapheiros,” both meaning blue. Others believe the name sapphire is derived from its association with the planet Saturn as it can be roughly translated to mean “Dear to the planet Saturn.”
Sapphires are primarily mined in Madagascar, but can also be found in Eastern Australia, Eastern Africa, China, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Montana. At one point in time, Madagascar produced more than half of the world’s supply of sapphires.
Sapphire is in the corundum mineral family, which is the same species as ruby. If the corundum has a deep red color, it is considered to be a ruby and is not classified as a sapphire. It is the second hardest natural mineral and scores a 9 on the Mohs Scale for hardness. The stone is also known for its toughness but can be less durable if it has large fractures, inclusions or has been chemically treated.
The quality of a sapphire is determined by its color saturation, tone, and purity of color. Purity of color refers to whether the color is natural or was it chemically or heat treated to enhance the stone’s overall appearance. This can have a significant impact on how the stone is priced in the marketplace.
There is a level of folklore associated with the sapphire. It is believed to be a symbol of nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. In ancient times, the stone was worn by royalty and clergy as they were convinced that the stone provided protection from envy and harm. Sapphires also were associated with having the power to make peace between enemies, influence spirits, and reveal the secrets of oracles.
The stone has maintained its popularity through the ages. Some notable sapphires are the Star of India, the Stuart Sapphire (part of the British Crown Jewels), and Princess Diana’s iconic sapphire engagement ring. It is a popular alternate choice for an engagement ring and with the proper care, it can be a cherished possession for many generations.
Racquel Evans-Clemons is a Portfolio Underwriter with Chubb Personal Risk Services.