It’s one of the most coveted gemstones in the world, with a popularity that dates back to the Middle Ages. Derived from the Latin word “saphirus” and the Greek word “saphieros”, the sapphire is a sacred stone with mystical associations that transcends religions and history. Although instantly recognisable by its deep blue colour, the sapphire comes in the colours of the rainbow, such as violet, green, black and even colourless.
Uses of sapphire
The sacred stone is revered for its healing properties, especially when worn by September babies or those with the Virgo star sign. In the Middle Ages, sapphires were believed to heal eye diseases and even plague boils. Ancient Greece and Rome saw royalty wearing them as talismans as a protection from the evil eyes of enemies and a symbol of harmony — wearing it could ease the relationships between adversaries and lovers. The sapphire is also said to have strong metaphysical healing properties, as it’s stimulating to the third eye chakra, and helps to boost the intuition and psychic abilities of the wearer.
Sapphires are some of the world’s hardest gemstones — it sits at number nine on the Mohs scale of hardness and is so durable, only a diamond is able to scratch it. So sturdy is the sapphire that it’s used in the creation of scientific instruments, windows and even watches; famously, the Apple watch features a lab-created sapphire screen.
Sapphires are a common stone for engagement rings, as they represent loyalty and truth. In the medieval period, the Romans believed that a sapphire’s colour was a true mark of fidelity. Its colour would change or fade if worn by unfaithful person. While overshadowed by the diamond for the longest time, its popularity returned when Prince William proposed to the Duchess of Cambridge with his mother’s legendary 12-ct sapphire ring.
Why sapphires are so precious
The sapphire’s nickname — the Heaven’s Stone — is indicative of its spiritual associations. Buddhists believed that it could bring about spiritual enlightenment. Ancient Persians theorised that the earth rested on a giant sapphire which gave the sky its blue colour. In the Bible, the sapphire is made reference to as the colour of the the throne of God; it’s also believed that the 10 commandments were engraved on sapphire tablets.
The sapphire is one of ‘The Big Four’ precious gemstones, which also include diamonds, emeralds and rubies. Derived from the mineral corundum, they are created when shifts in high heat and intense pressure in the earth cause atoms to recombine into metamorphic rocks. Trace amounts of impurities in the gem determines if it becomes a red ruby or blue sapphire. Sapphires can range from a light blue to an intense, dark blue. Blue sapphires are the most sought after; the darker the shade, the more valuable it is.
Sapphires are found in only a few locations in the world, but the blue ones from Kashmir are the most legendary. Described as a “blue velvet” shade, these are described as near perfect, but are so rare that they are hardly seen, except in a museum. While sapphires are no longer found in Kashmir, they are now mined in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
Here, we have three stunning pieces of jewellery featuring the September birthstone. These make wonderful romantic gifts, as they represent successful love, and are commonly given as wedding anniversary presents.
Main image: Chopard