September is officially considered the start of spring in South Africa. Birds are singing, flowers are blooming and love is certainly in the air as peak engagement and wedding season starts. September’s birthstone, sapphire, is a well known gem, but here are 10 things you might not know about this gorgeous gemstone:
What is sapphire?
- Sapphires belong to the family of minerals known as corundum. With a hardness of 9 out of 10 on Moh’s hardness scale, they are second in hardness only to diamond. As a result, a diamond is the only gemstone that can scratch a sapphire and sapphire is an ideal gemstone for engagement rings.
- The term “sapphire” is derived from the Latin word “sapphiru”, meaning blue.
What colour is sapphire?
- Although blue is the most widely recognised colour, sapphires occur in almost every colour of the rainbow, except for red. The gemstone variety of red corundum is, of course, known as ruby.
- The range of colours in sapphires comes as a result of different trace element chemistry in the crystal structure. Iron and titanium gives rise to blue sapphires, whereas chromium results in pink sapphires (and, likewise, a high chromium content consequently gives rise to ruby).
- One of the rarest gemstones in the world is a form of sapphire known as “Padparadscha”. Named after the Sanskrit word for the lotus flower, Padparascha sapphires exhibit a unique pink-orange colour. Found only in Sri Lanka, Vietnam and parts of East Africa, these rare sapphires can be even more expensive than top quality blue sapphires.
What are star sapphires?
- Star sapphires display a star-like effect known as “asterism”. A result of the existence of needle-like inclusions of rutile in the crystal, star sapphires exhibit a 6-ray star pattern when viewed under a single-light source. Star sapphires can occur in any colour and, similarly, star rubies can also be found.
Where do sapphires come from?
- Kashmir sapphires are most noteworthy as some of the best quality and highest priced sapphires, but Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Madagascar produce similarly exceptional sapphires.
What about synthetic sapphires?
- Sapphire is one of the very first gemstones to have been created artificially in a laboratory. In 1902 a French chemist, August Verneuil, produced synthetic sapphire crystals while adding fine aluminium oxide powder to an oxyhydrogen flame.
Sapphire as an anniversary gift
- Sapphire is the traditional gift for 5thand 45thwedding anniversaries. A “Sapphire Jubilee” occurs after 65 years and Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee in 2017.
A famous sapphire engagement ring
- When Prince Charles proposed marriage to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 with a 12ct blue Ceylon sapphire ring, sapphire engagement rings became instantly popular. Brides around the world sported look-alike rings of oval blue sapphires surrounded by a halo of diamonds. Today, Princess Catherine, wife of Prince William, proudly wears Princess Diana’s engagement ring.
If you love sapphires as much as we do, take a look at our sapphire engagement ring designs, or browse our earring and pendant designs for that perfect September birthday present. Should you not be able to find a design you like, please contact us to set your own personal design consultation with our co-founder Clare Appleyard.
To celebrate September’s birthstone, sapphire, we’re offering 10% off all sapphire jewellery for the month of September. Whether you’re looking for rings, earrings, pendants or something else, you can be sure that you’ll be getting exceptional quality sapphires for an outstanding price.