September’s Birthstone: The Regal Sapphire

Sapphire and Diamond Ring, Earrings and Necklace
Sapphire and Diamond Jewelry Image Courtesy of Dorfman Jewelers

Why not treat yourself like a queen this month and buy a piece of jewelry featuring your birthstone, sapphire? Or better yet, drop a hint that you’d like “something in sapphire” as a gift.

Sapphires have always been associated with romance and royalty. The best modern-day example is the 18-carat blue sapphire engagement ring presented by Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer, and a generation later by their son William to Kate Middleton. One of the most famous sapphires is the St. Edward’s Sapphire, which dates from the 11th century and is mounted on the Imperial State Crown, one of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

Blue and Beyond

Sapphire is a form of the tough and durable mineral corundum. Red corundum is called ruby, while all other gem-quality forms of corundum are called sapphires. Sapphires typically appear as blue stones, ranging from very pale blue to deep indigo. The most valued are the medium-deep cornflower blue sapphires, not too pastel and not too navy blue.

Sapphires also occur in a wide array of natural colors — gray, yellow, pale pink, orange, green, violet and brown – called fancy sapphires. “Padparadscha” is a very rare and valuable pinkish-orange sapphire named for the Sinhalese word for lotus blossom.

Sapphire Shopping

Sapphire Allegra Diamond Ring
Sapphire Allegra Diamond Ring Image Courtesy of Dorfman Jewelers

According to the Gemological Institute of America, fine sapphire is generally more affordable than comparable quality ruby, emerald or diamond. Sapphires are most common in cushion or oval shapes, but round, emerald-cut and princess-cut sapphires are widely available in sizes under a carat. The GIA recommends that when buying a sapphire – or any gemstone – you should look at the stone in different lights, especially the light you will be wearing it in most. Blue sapphires, for example, look best in office florescent light, while rubies look better in ordinary household incandescent light.

Star Sapphires

Star sapphires are those that exhibit six-legged “stars,” or asterisms, caused by needle-like inclusions that scatter light. We’ll report on this popular form of sapphire in a future post, but we can’t leave without mentioning “The Starry Night Sapphire.”

The Starry Night Sapphire
The Starry Night Sapphire is currently on view at the GIA Museum in Carlsbad, CA.

This 112-carat Burmese sapphire has a magnificent star pattern across its surface, invoking Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece “Starry Night.” Gemstones that display these optical effects are referred to as “phenomenal” gemstones…and we think this royal blue sapphire is pretty phenomenal indeed!

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