Sapphire, the September birthstone and also the gift for a 5th, 45th, and 75th Anniversary, has traditionally symbolized sincerity, truth, faithfulness and nobility. For countless centuries, sapphire has adorned royalty and the robes of the clergy. The elite of ancient Greece and Rome believed that blue sapphires protected their owners from harm and envy. Clerics of the Middle Ages wore sapphires because they symbolized Heaven. The September birthstone was reputed to have healing powers as well. Medieval Europeans believed that sapphire cured plague boils and diseases of the eye andthought to be an antidote to poison.
Famous sapphires include the Rockefeller Sapphire, a 62.02 carat (ct) rectangular step cut stone that was unearthed in Myanmar (Burma). Acquired in 1934 by financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874–1960) from an Indian maharajah, the gem was recut and remounted over the years. The sapphire was first set as a brooch and later as a ring featuring two cut-cornered triangular diamond side stones. Perhaps the best-known sapphire in recent years is the 12 ct blue gem surrounded by diamonds in the sapphire engagement ring first worn by Princess Diana and then given by her son to Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge.
Upon hearing the word “Sapphire,” many immediately envision a stunning violet-blue gemstone. “Sapphire” is Greek for blue, after all. Since ancient times, the Blue Sapphire has represented a promise of honesty, loyalty, purity and trust. To keep with this tradition, Sapphires are one of the most popular engagement gemstones today.
Sapphire is found in many parts of the world, but the most prized Sapphires are from Myanmar, Kashmir and Sri Lanka. Sapphires with a highly saturated violet-blue color and a velvety or sleepy transparency are more rare. The purer the blue of the Sapphire, the greater the price. However, many people find that darker hues can be just as appealing.
Sapphires are not only blue. They also come in pink, yellow, orange, peach and violet colors. The most sought-after color of fancy Sapphire is the rare and beautiful Padparadscha — a pink-orange corundum with a distinctive salmon color reminiscent of a tropical sunset. These ultra-rare, ultra-expensive stones are among the most coveted gems in the world.