September’s birthstone is the sapphire. There are also 12 different stones listed for the zodiac signs of Virgo and Libra which may also be considered as alternative September birthstones. When I hear “sapphire,” I think of the royal blue variety. Blue is the most popular color and the color (and depth of color) is the most important element in estimating the value of sapphire.
Chemically, sapphires are corundum which is naturally colorless. Trace elements like iron, titanium, chromium, copper and magnesium give sapphires a tint of blue, yellow, purple, orange or green. Sapphires in any color but blue are called “fancies”. You can find sapphires in every color except red, which is classified as a ruby, although it is chemically the same. Sapphires are hard stones – measuring 9 on the Mohs scale – perfect for jewelry.
In the U.S., gems must meet a minimum color saturation to be considered sapphires or rubies. Pink sapphires, in particular, tow a fine line between ruby and sapphire. Pinkish orange sapphires are called padparadscha (a Sri Lankan word for “lotus flower”) can actually be more expensive than some blue sapphires. Sapphires are found in India, the Far East, Australia, Brazil, Africa and also North America. The origin of the stone can affect its value as much as the color, cut, clarity and carat size. Famous star sapphires like the Star of India and others came from Sri Lanka.
Sapphire is said to help focus the mind, encourage self-discipline and channel higher powers. In 1902, French chemist Auguste Verneuil developed a process to make synthetic sapphire. This discovery unlocked a multitude of industrial applications including integrated circuits, satellite communication systems, high-durability windows and scientific instruments.