Sapphire is the September birthstone and the traditional gift for a 5th, 23rd or 45th wedding anniversary. The Star sapphire is given on a 65th wedding anniversary.
The word Sapphire comes from the Greek word "sappheiros" which means "precious stone." Sapphires can be traced back to the earliest times and are often associated with romance and royalty. Some may recall the early 1980's when Prince Charles of England presented Princess Diana with a sapphire engagement ring. Women in many countries wish for a sapphire engagement ring as the blue color embodies all that is constant and reliable.
In folklore the sapphire is said to provide protection from harm and envy. People believe the stone has healing properties for mental illness, rheumatism and mental illness. Many religions have historically venerated the sapphire. King Solomon's Seal Stone ring is reported to be sapphire. Buddhists believe that the wearer of sapphires lead to a moral life. The Catholic Church has used the stone quite often. In the Middle Ages the people believed that sapphires had extraordinary powers that could even ward off the evils of black magic!
Sapphires are mined in India, Burma, Ceylon, Thailand, Australia Vietnam, Brazil, and Africa. Most blue sapphires come from Thailand or Australia.
Sapphires are normally thought of as Blue stones, but there are many other colors that are called 'fancy' sapphires. As a matter of fact, a sapphire can be any color except for red - if it is red it is a ruby! The sapphire is in the corundum family and is a 9 on the Mohs scale which means it is very durable and hard. In addition to fancy sapphires there are other types of sapphire. Color change sapphires are one color in the daylight and fluorescent lighting and change to a different color in incandescent light. Another unusual variety of sapphire is the star sapphire which is a 6 ray star pattern, occasionally 12 ray pattern, that can be seen on some cabachon sapphires at certain angles. Lastly, there is a rare cat's eye sapphire which displays a single ray down the center of the stone which is reminiscent of a cat's eye.
- Warm, soapy water and a soft brush is always safe to use to clean sapphires.
- Many sapphires are heat treat, which does not cause any concerns for its care. Some stones, however, may be surface treated. These stones should never be polished.
- Some sapphires may have bee treated with substances that fill fractures or cavities. Weak acids such as lemon juices can damage this treatment.
- Fractures in some sapphires may be filled with glass or other material. Great care must be taken when cleaning and wearing these stones. Only clean with warm, soapy water.
For more information about sapphire care and cleaning, see the GIA site: Sapphire Care and Cleaning.