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September's Birthstone: Color your world with a splash of sapphire

on Sep 2, 2011 1:25 PM

SapphireSeptember is a month of celebration - the month of the beautiful Sapphire, a favorite of many.

We all think of September's birthstone as being a brilliant blue. Sapphire IS blue, it’s true. But it can also come in a kaleidoscope of colors from the gold of a sunrise, to the fiery reddish-orange of a sunset, to the delicate violet of twilight. In fact, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Graduate Gemologists here at Jewelers Mutual shared with me that Sapphire comes in every color but red, because a “Red Sapphire” is a Ruby, Sapphire’s gem sibling.

We also discovered that Sapphires and Rubies are simply different colors of corundum, the crystalline form of aluminum oxide. Pure aluminum oxide is colorless, minute amounts of trace elements that create every conceivable color, referred to as “Fancy Sapphire.”

Sapphire's spectrum of colorHere’s where the colors come from:

  • Titanium + iron = blue
  • Chromium = pink
  • Iron = both green and yellow
  • Chromium + iron = orange

When the corundum crystal has enough chromium to be red, it is then called a Ruby.

What to look for in a Sapphire

The most valuable color of Sapphire is a vivid pure blue often described as velvety blue, or cornflower blue. On June 1, 2010, an exquisite Kashmir Sapphire and Diamond bracelet sold for $6.9 million at auction with Christie’s Jewels: The Hong Kong Sale, making it the world’s most expensive bracelet.

Cartier sapphire braceletAnother valuable color is a delicate pinkish-orange known as a “Padparadscha” after the Sinhalese word for lotus flower. With so many colors of Sapphire to choose from, there is likely a Sapphire to meet everyone’s taste and budget. Visit the American Gem Trade Association website for tips on buying your favorite gemtones.

The gemstone for romance

Sapphire is long associated with royalty and romance. A gift of Sapphire symbolizes a pledge of loyalty, trust, and fidelity making it an ideal gemstone for an engagement ring. In other words, it was no accident that Prince William proposed to Kate with Princess Diana’s Sapphire ring. Sapphire is also the gemstone to mark the 45th wedding anniversary.

Proper care

Sapphires are a hard gemstone and also extremely durable. As a result, Sapphires are the most durable of gems. You can clean them safely with a toothbrush, warm water and mild dish soap. For more gemstone education, refer to GIA.

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