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
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