The Jewelry Insider

August 31, 2008

September’s birthstone has a complicated past. You’d think that after centuries in the limelight, almost everything to know about the sapphire would be out there in the open. But that hasn’t been the case – until now. Sapphires for example, have always liked to consider themselves the perfect blue gem. It’s about time, though, that they come out of the jewelry box and stand proud. Sapphires are not just blue…

Much like the changing color of fall leaves, Sapphires sparkle in a palette of colors from blue to pink, yellow to green and all the colors in-between. There are even colorless sapphires that appear almost identical to diamonds.

There’s just one color that you won’t find in a Sapphire closet. It’s not that it doesn’t exist; it’s just that it’s sort of estranged from the family and prefers an entirely different name.

Sapphires and their estranged gem relatives are both members of the Corundum family – not a family you’d want to mess with in a dark alley. Members of the Corundum group are known for their extraordinary hardness (9 on the Mohs scale), exceeded only by diamonds – and the diamond is the hardest mineral on Earth. Thanks to that hardness, sapphires are easy to look after, requiring no more than the usual care on the part of the wearer.

For thousands of years, sapphires were hunted far and wide as the ultimate blue gemstone. The ancient Persians believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire that gave its blue reflection to the sky, hence the Latin name “sapphiru”, which means blue.

The gem has long symbolized faith, remembrance, and enduring commitment. According to tradition, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on tablets of sapphire, making it the most sacred stone. This supposed “divine favor” is why sapphires often were the gem of choice for kings and high priests throughout history. In fact, the British Crown Jewels contain a number of notable sapphires. Prince Charles even gave Princess Diana a sapphire engagement ring.

But back to sapphire’s sexy secret. The only color that sapphire doesn’t come in is red. There is a red member of that ultra-hard Corundum family. It prefers to go by the name ‘ruby’.

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