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Saturday 2 September 2017

The Dazzling Sapphire, birthstone for September

Generic image of a Sapphire ring
Sapphires have been highly prized for centuries and are steeped in traditions and folklore. Is This Mutton? finds out more about this heavenly gemstone, the birthstone for September. 
In ancient Greece and Rome, kings and queens were convinced that blue sapphires protected their owners from envy and harm. In the 12th Century, the sapphire was known as the most appropriate stone for ecclesiastical rings. The Cingalese believed that the star sapphire served as protection and a guard against witchcraft. The great Oriental traveler, Sir Richard Francis Burton, had a large star sapphire which he referred to as his “talisman,” for it always brought him good horses and prompt attention wherever he went.

Celebrities in Sapphires

More recently, the sapphire is often the go-to jewel for A List celebrities.  Princess Diana made sapphires fashionable in the 80s when it was the sensational stone in her engagement ring, how worn by the Duchess of Cambridge. Celebrities with sapphire rings include Penelope Cruz and Victoria Beckham. Is The Mutton (not a celebrity!)  also has a sapphire engagement ring.

Image showing the blue sapphire engagement ring belonging to actress Penelope Cruz

Images showing Victoria Beckham's blue sapphire ring

What type of stone is a sapphire?

The sapphire is a corundum, an aluminum oxide with a trigonal crystal structure, in the same family as the ruby. The only difference between a ruby and a sapphire is simply the color. If there's a hierachy of gemstones in terms of hardness and desirability, rubies and sapphires are second only to diamonds. Diamonds are listed as a ten in terms of hardness, sapphires as a nine. The attribute of hardness of the sapphire makes it a perfect choice for jewellery that needs to stand up to everyday wear, such as in rings or bracelets.

A stone in many colors

Many people assume the sapphire is always blue. But the gemstone comes in an array of colors including violet, dark grey, orange, yellow, pink, green and black.

A special orangey pink sapphire color is called padparadscha, which means “lotus flower” in Sinhalese, the language spoken in Sri Lanka. Stones from Sri Lanka were initially the only ones labeled with this marketable name. Princess Eugenie's engagement ring features a stunning padparadscha sapphire.
The gorgeous peach orange hue of a Padparadscha sapphire. Image from Laurie Sarah Designs
Padparadscha Sapphire Engagement Ring with Peach Sapphire Halo from Laurie Sarah Designs.

Blue sapphires come from Burma and Kashmir, where the blue tone is the most pure to the true spectral blue, and the stones tend to have a unique velvety lustre. Sapphires from Sri Lanka have an  almost pastel blue. Many sapphires also come from Australia, which are dark blue but with a slightly green undertone, similar to those from Thailand. These tend to be less expensive than sapphires from Burma, Kashmir and Sri Lanka.

Caring for Sapphires

As they're a hard stone, sapphires can be cleaned in almost any way. Warm, soapy water is best, though you might also try ultrasonic cleaners and steamers. You can also try using water with a touch of ammonia in it. If you have a fracture in your sapphire or own a star sapphire, do not use mechanical cleaning methods as a sapphire can shatter with one single blow, if hit sharply.

Explore Is This Mutton's Birthstone of the Month Series

Garnet (January), Amethyst (February),  Aquamarine  (March), Heliotrope (March),
Diamond (April),  Emerald (May), Pearl, (June), Moonstone (June), Peridot (August), Opal (October),  Tourmaline (October), Topaz  (November),  Citrine (November), Tanzanite ( December),  Zircon (December). 

For More Mutton

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  1. I love Saphires Gail. I always wear an antique one that my OH bought me years ago.Not sure if you have seen it. I love the raw cut necklace. I always like the rough cut stones of late. xx

    1. I'm also liking raw cut stones lately - they have a sense of originality and rough hewn beauty. I'll look out for your sapphire ring. I have a sapphire engagement ring - look out for that one.

  2. Hi gail thank you for linking up to our new 'Ashley and laurie' link up
    best ashley

  3. Not sure how I missed this post. Well, I do know...I have been swamped since I started working fulltime. How 'bout you? Is your new job keeping you hopping?

    Ok, you know I loved the emeralds. Then came the peridots. And they became my new favorite. But I tell you, ole sapphire ain't half bad! Such a deep color. Like the pool of the deepest water. When I was a child, we picnicked at a park that had a spring-fed pool that was so deep that divers hadn't been able to reach the bottom. That water was the color of this gemstone!


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