The September birthstone, sapphire, has had a long and storied history. This beautiful gem has been prized for hundreds of years and has been worn by royals, religious figures, and trend-setters throughout the ages. And while sapphires have always been loved and desired, they’ve recently been having an increased boom in popularity. To celebrate the enduring popularity of this breathtaking gem, we’re sharing 18 facts about September’s stunning birthstone sapphire!
When people think of sapphires, they usually picture blue sapphires. But sapphires actually come in a rainbow of colors, including pink, green, yellow, orange, purple, black, white (or colorless), and parti (multicolored).
Sapphire is a term for all varieties of the mineral corundum that are not red. While red corundum does exist, it goes by the name ruby instead of sapphire.
Sapphires are incredibly strong and durable. They’re a 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which means that the only gemstone harder than a sapphire is a diamond.
The largest blue sapphire ever discovered weighed in at a staggering 1,404 carats. This gem, which was discovered in 2015, is called the Star of Adam and has an estimated value of 100 to 175 million dollars.
The rarest sapphire color is called padparadscha, which is orangey pink. The name “padparadscha” comes from the Sinhalese (the language of Sri Lanka) word for lotus flower.
In the Middle Ages, sapphires were associated with heaven and were often worn by members of the clergy.
Sapphires are beautiful, but they’re also very strong and an excellent electrical insulator. Because of this, sapphires are often used in manufacturing. Sapphires are used in high grade cutting tools, polishing compounds, and electronics (including the Apple Watch, which uses lab-created sapphire glass for its screen).
Sapphires are the traditional 45th wedding anniversary gift.
According to Italian superstition, sapphires can offer protection from eye problems and melancholy.
Sapphires have been used in engagement rings since the tradition of engagement rings began. In fact, sapphires were the most popular gemstone for engagement rings for hundreds of years, until diamonds became the most popular choice during the 20th century.
In traditional Hindu belief, sapphires are associated with Saturn, Saturday, and Shani, the god of Justice.
Gem quality sapphires are rare and have been found in only a few locations in the world. Many of the world’s sapphires were found in Sri Lanka, Burma, and Kashmir, though sapphires have also been found in Cambodia, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, and the United States (mostly in Montana).
Though sapphires are the birthstone of September babies, who would fall into either the Virgo or Libra zodiac signs, sapphires are also associated with the zodiac sign Taurus (April 22 to May 21).
Single crystal sapphires are biocompatible, meaning they are usually well-accepted when used inside the body. Because of this, and because of sapphire’s high durability, lab-created sapphire is sometimes used as a component of hip joint replacements.
In 2017, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee, which marked the 65th year of her reign. To commemorate the Sapphire Jubilee, the Royal Mail released blue stamps in the same hue as a blue sapphire.
While there are many famous sapphires in the world, one of the most famous today is the blue sapphire used in Princess Diana’s engagement ring, which is now worn by Kate Middleton.
In Victorian England, it was popular to wear an engagement ring that used gemstones to symbolically “spell out” a word (such as “love,” “dearest,” or the name of their betrothed). Sapphires were commonly used in these rings and stood for the letter “S.”
Sapphires have long been associated with purity and fidelity. In the 13th century, it was popularly believed that the color of a sapphire would fade if it was worn by an unfaithful partner.