Deriving its name from the Greek word ‘sapphirus, ’Sapphire is the birthstone for September and the gemstone traditionally given for a fifth, twenty-third or forty-fifth wedding anniversary. The cool blue sapphire marks the season’s shift from summer to autumn. To those born in the transitional month of September, it is thought to harness relaxing energy and clear the mind, and by so doing, protecting its wearer from fraud, envy, and ill health.
Sapphire’s Fascinating Color Palette
Although often considered synonymous with the color blue, sapphires are so much more. The term ‘fancy’ sapphire refers to sapphire categories ranging in color from the desirable and rare padparascha to pink, green, yellow, orange and purple. All sapphires and rubies, irrespective of color, belong to the corundum family, and the pink variety is defined by a fine color-differentiating line, which distinguishes pink sapphires from red rubies.
Main Sources of Mining
Sapphire is found in many parts of the world, but the most prized Sapphires are from Myanmar (Burma), Kashmir and Sri Lanka. Sapphires with highly saturated violet-blue color and “velvety” or “sleepy” transparency are more rare. The purer the blue of the Sapphire, the greater the price. However, many people find the darker hues of Sapphire just as appealing.
Kashmir used to be a predominant place famous for the silky cornflower blue colored sapphires until the mine was exhausted , rendering it extremely difficult to get any sapphires from Kashmir. In fact, the largest sapphire was recently discovered in a Sri Lankan mine weighing 1,404 carats. This is compared to the now considered as the second largest sapphire set on the Logan Brooch that weighs 422.99 carats and is hosted at the Natural History Museum in Washington D.C.
Sapphire As Defined by Ancient Civilizations:
The ancient Persians called the sapphire a ‘Celestial Stone’ believing the earth rested upon a huge sapphire, reflecting its color, and in so doing, turning the sky blue. The Greeks regarded sapphire as sacred to the God Apollo and the stone was traditionally worn when attending the oracle of Apollo’s shrine. The Greek wise men understood what seafarers had broadcast for centuries that sapphires protected one across the water. Buddhists continue to believe that ‘a sapphire symbolically opens a closed door through which to hear the sweet bells of peace’ while the Hebrews mention sapphire as one of the gems on Aaron’s Breastplate in the Book of Exodus.
Significance of Sapphires in the Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages, sapphires were believed to represent the purity of the soul and priests who were expected to remain celibate, wore them as a means of protection from possible ‘temptations of the flesh’. In Medieval Europe, a widely held belief persisted, that sapphires were particularly beneficial to the eyes. A Court historian who wrote about sapphire, described it as ‘A precious stone, blue in color and similar to heaven in fair weather, most apt to fingers of kings’…
A Note to Gentlemen at the Point of Proposing…
A fascinating point which might be of interest to gentlemen ‘on the verge’ of proposing and hesitant about their choice of engagement rings: There exists extensive literature on the characteristic of sapphire as a gemstone used for testing the fidelity of a spouse, as it was believed to change color if the marriage partner (mostly female!) committed infidelity. Numerous cultures throughout the world continue to believe that ‘sapphire refuses to shine for the unchaste or impure’!
In addition to testing one’s loyalty, sapphires have also been credited with amuletic powers. In his book ‘Talismans, Amulets and Zodiac Gems’, the historian W. Pavitt recounts that the wife of Emperor Charlemagne (742-814) possessed a powerful talisman composed of two rough sapphires and a piece of the True Cross made to preserve and strengthen Charlemagne’s affections towards her. It was so effective that his love for her endured long after her death, after which he ordered her talisman to be removed from her body and entrusted to the Archbishop of Mains and the Chancellor of the Empire. As Charlemagne suffered in his deathbed, the talisman was given to him and he was able to pass away peacefully.