Sapphire, the Gem of September

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Friday 13, 2018

Besides being known as September’s birthstone, a Sapphire ring was the choice of Princess Diana for her engagement ring. It is now worn by her daughter-in-law Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Although Sapphires come in a rainbow of colors, it is most well known as a rich blue stone. It has been used in the jewelry and adornment of royals for centuries. Sapphire has often been associated with romance. In the Middle Ages, clergy considered it a reminder of heaven.

Sapphires are in the same group of stones known as corundum. Nearly all corundum is known as sapphire, except the red stones, known as Ruby, and an orangey-pink stone called padparadscha. The padparadscha sapphire is found specifically in Sri Lanka.

Sapphires are made from aluminum and oxygen. The presence of trace amounts of iron is what gives sapphires their blue color. Other trace elements that are present when sapphires are formed give stones their great variety of colors. These stones are called fancy sapphires.  In the 1990’s, deposits of fancy sapphires were found in East Africa, as well as Madagascar, and has been the source of creative, multicolored stone jewelry. Sapphires are sometimes colorless, and these types of stones are occasionally used as alternatives to diamonds. 

One of the unique features of some sapphires is the six-point star shape in the crystal. One of the most famous of these is the 330-ct Star of Asia which is part of the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

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