The sapphire, birthstone for September, is related to
July’s birthstone, the ruby. They are both a form of the mineral corundum. Red corundum is what we know as the ruby, while all other gem quality forms of corundum are called sapphires.
Typically, sapphires are blue stones, ranging from very pale blue to deep indigo. The color ranges on the presence of small amounts of titanium and iron within the crystal structure. The shade valued the highest is the medium-deep cornflower blue. Sapphires also occur in other natural colors and tints – colorless, gray, yellow, pale pink, orange, green, violet and brown – called fancy sapphires. These different colors are caused by different kinds of impurities within the crystal. For example, yellow sapphires get their color from ferric iron, while colorless gems have no contaminants.
The biggest source of sapphires world-wide is Australia, especially New South Wales and Queensland. Stones from Australia are usually blue stones with a dark and inky appearance. Kashmir, in India, used to be a well-known source of the cornflower-blue stones. In the United States, a major source is the Yogo Gulch Mine in Montana that mostly yields small stones for industrial use.
In ancient Grecian times, sapphires were found on the Island of Sappherine in the Arabian Sea. Ancient Persians called sapphire the “Celestial Stone.” It was the gem of Apollo, Greek God of prophesy and was worn by worshipers visiting his shrine in Delphi to seek his help.
A special orangy pink sapphire color is called padparadscha, which means “lotus flower” in the language spoken in Sri Lanka. Stones from Sri Lanka were initially the only ones labeled with this name. There’s no telling how many padparadschas have been sifted from Sri Lankan river gravel throughout history. Sri Lankans have a special affection for the stone that’s traditionally been linked with their country.
Sapphires were once believed to be protection against snakes. It was believed to kill poisonous reptiles and spiders if placed in a jar containing the stone. The French of the 13th century believed that sapphire transformed stupidity to wisdom, and irritability to good temper.
The sapphire was said to represent the purity of the soul. Before and during the Middle Ages, it was worn by priests as protection from impure thoughts and temptations of the flesh and also to symbolize heaven. Ordinary people believed the sapphire brought heavenly blessings to them. Medieval kings of Europe used sapphires for rings and brooches, believing that it protected them from harm and envy. Warriors presented their young wives with sapphire necklaces so they would remain faithful. It was believed that the stone’s color would darken if worn by an adulterer or adulteress, or by an unworthy person.
Traditionally, sapphire symbolizes nobility, truth, loyalty, sincerity, and faithfulness. It has been used to decorate the robes of royalty and clergy members for centuries. Its extraordinary color is the standard against which other blue gems—from topaz to tanzanite—are measured. In other times and places, people instilled sapphires with the power to guard chastity, make peace between enemies, influence spirits, and reveal the secrets of oracles.
The sapphire is the most effective stone for healing the nervous system. It regulates the function of the thyroid gland and is used as a remedy for lack of appetite and nervous heart ailments. Psychologically, wearing the stone can strengthen willpower and helps to give healing strength.
"Healing Crystals and Gemstones from Amethyst to Zircon" by Dr.Flora Peschek-Bohmer and Gisela Schreiber, Konecky & Konecky, 2002
August has two birthstones, peridot and sardonyx. Peridot is a transparent form of olivine which is formed due to volcanic activity It ranges in color from olive green to lime green, sometimes with a brownish tinge to it, depending on the mineral content. The green color comes from its iron content and the brownish hue is from a higher iron content. Quality peridot are sometimes referred to as "Evening Emeralds" because they appear greener under artificial light.
This gemstone is associated with prosperity, growth, dignity, and love. It is also believed to have the power to ward away evil and nightmares. Peridot is believed to bring peace and progress to one’s life. In ancient times, Egypt was the primary source of peridot and was known as the 'Gem of the Sun'. Peridot is currently mined in Burma, Norway, Brazil, China, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Australia, and Mexico. Small stones can also be found in Arizona. Peridot has also been found in some meteorites.
Peridot is one of the oldest known gemstones. It was believed that the gemstones worn by the Queen Cleopatra were not emeralds as was believed in history but may have actually been peridot. References to the August gemstone have also been found in the Bible, going by its Hebrew name ‘Pitdah’. The “topaz” on the breastplate of Aaron, in the Old Testament, was believed to actually be peridot. Ancient Egyptians, around 1580 B.C. to 1350 B.C., created beads from peridot. For Greeks and Romans, peridot was in popular use as intaglios, rings, inlays, and pendants. The Crusaders thought that peridots were emeralds, and brought them back to Europe where they were featured as ornaments in churches. The most sought after and expensive peridots are of the lime-green color not having any brown or yellow hue.
Sardonyx is a variety of the silica mineral called chalcedony. This sort of mineral contains layers of tiny quartz fibers, which are stacked on top of each other to give a banded appearance. The layers in these stones range from translucent to opaque.
Sardonyx can vary in color from white or gray to more colorful varieties such as browns and reds. The best stones are found in India but can also be found in Germany, Czechoslovakia, Brazil, and Uruguay. Here at home In the United States, you can find sardonyx in the Lake Superior region and in Oregon.
Cameos and intaglios are often carved from sardonyx. Sardonyx is a relatively common and inexpensive gemstone and was a favorite in ancient times because it was attractive, but also because it was could be found readily. Unlike most rare gemstones that could only be bought by the wealthy, sardonyx could be obtained by many people.
Roman soldiers wore sardonyx talismans to guard from evil and bring good fortune engraved with heroes such as Hercules or Mars, god of war. It was believed that the stone would make the wearer as brave and daring as the figured carved on it. During the Renaissance period, sardonyx was thought to bring eloquence to anyone wearing it and was highly valued by public speakers and orators.
Sardonyx is a stone of strength and protection. It is used to enhance willpower, integrity, stamina and vigor. It is also believed to bring lasting happiness and stability to marriage and partnerships. It also attracts friends and good fortune. A lovely stone to have!
I am excited to begin bringing you new information about trends in design and colors as they relate to jewelry and gemstones. I'll also be adding some great links that I've found along the way from professionals in both the fashion and jewelry industries. And I would love to hear from you!