“A maiden born when September leaves
Are rustling in September’s breeze,
A sapphire on her brow should bind
`Twill cure diseases of the mind.”
The name “sapphire” comes from the Latin sapphirus and Greek sappheiros, meaning “blue stone,” though those words may have originally referred to lapis lazuli. Some believe it originated from the Sanskrit word sanipriya which meant “dear to Saturn.”
Historically, there are countless references to sapphires. The many biblical references to the stone include the Ten Commandments, which were given to Moses on tablets made of sapphire, as well as featuring on the second row of Aaron’s Breastplate. Medieval Christians expanded on the biblical allegories with their uses of sapphires, and the stone came to be known as the “guiding stone” of kings and emperors. It has decorated the robes of royalty and clergy members for centuries. Traditionally, the gem symbolises nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness.
The mystic Hildegard von Bingen believed it a powerful talisman against madness and demonic possession, as referenced in the Gregorian poem. It was also believed by some to cure the “madness of love.” Sapphire’s mythical powers don’t end there though, amongst other things it is said to bring inner peace, focus the mind, and protect from envy and harm. They are also believed to symbolise nobility, sincerity, integrity, and when given as a gift represent trust, loyalty and honesty. Phew!
Up until recently, the overwhelming favourite stone for engagement rings was not diamond, but sapphire! My mother’s engagement ring contained sapphire, and during the same era, but rather more famously, so did Princess Diana’s! There has been renewed interested in sapphire engagement rings since the engagement of Kate Middleton and Prince William in 2010. Prince William proposed with the stunning eighteen carat blue sapphire ring, which formerly belonged to his mother, Princess Diana. Napoleon gave Josephine a sapphire engagement ring and sapphire rings have also been seen on the fingers of Penelope Cruz, Beyonce and Elizabeth Hurley. So, if a sapphire is your jewellery of choice you are in good company!
Although sapphire typically refers to the rich blue gemstone variety of the mineral corundum, this royal gemstone occurs in a rainbow of hues. Sapphires come in every colour except red, which earns them the classification of rubies instead. Trace chemical elements like iron, titanium, chromium, copper, and magnesium give the naturally colourless mineral corundum a tint of blue, yellow, purple, orange or green, respectively. Pinkish orange sapphires called padparadscha (from the Sri Lankan word for “lotus flower”) can draw higher prices than some blue sapphires.
The vast majority of sapphires are treated using heat to create a more brilliant hue. 1% or less of sapphires are gem quality when they are first taken from the earth. Untreated sapphires are particularly rare and valuable.
Sapphire is one of the hardest natural gemstones placed second only to diamond in its hardness. This makes sapphire a very popular gemstone when it comes to jewellery making. Sapphires are also used in industrial applications including scientific instruments, high-durability windows, watches, and electronics. Sapphire’s durability makes it practical for everyday wear, and means it will definitely stand the test of time. This is probably why, besides being the birthstone of September babies, sapphires are also a traditional 45th wedding anniversary gift.
September’s children can celebrate their birthday in style with a sapphire. And if it’s not your birthday in September but you just love sapphires, then buy one anyway. I won’t tell – promise!