Birthstones are gems traditionally associated either with calendar months or zodiac signs, and vary across the world. The custom of wearing birthstone jewellery originated in 18th-century Poland.
And so here we are in September: The month for sapphires. These gems derive their names from both Greek and Roman words for blue, their usual colour.
Sapphires are the blue cousins of red rubies, both being forms of the mineral corundum (aluminium oxide). Sapphires have some colour variation (including violet, dark grey, orange, yellow, pink, green and black) depending on their impurities of iron and titanium, but the clear, deep blue that we all recognise is the most valuable form. Cornflower blue is the most sought after shade.
The best quality sapphires are found in India, Burma and Sri Lanka. Others come from the USA, Australia, Nigeria, Thailand, Cambodia, Brazil, Kenya, Malawi and Colombia.
Sapphires have been prized as great gemstones since 800BC. In history, kings wore sapphire jewelry to protect themselves from harm: King Solomon wore a sapphire ring for just this purpose. Sapphires were believed to preserve the wearer from envy and attracted divine favour.
In much more recent times, sapphires sprang to fame when the late Princess Diana, then Lady Diana, was given a sapphire engagement ring by Prince Charles. This was later given to Kate by Prince William when they got engaged in 2010. William said at the time this was a way to ensure that his mother didn’t miss out on his wedding day.
The Museum of Natural History in New York is home to the one of the largest and most notorious sapphires in the world, the “Star of India”, a sapphire of 563 carats. Now that’s a huge, beautiful, blue hunk! And worth an absolute fortune.
Sapphires are said to be a protection against evil spells, and they are seen as tools of self-improvement possessing a transformative energy for the wearer. These beautiful gems are good for mental health and maintaining inner peace.
So, if you’re feeling the blues, then slip on some blue sapphires and get the good karma back in your life.