September’s birthstone is another gorgeous and super-strong precious stone: the sapphire! Sapphires measure as a 9 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, second only to diamonds and matched with ruby. This stone can go on many adventures and still look just as brilliant and stunning as the day it came from the earth. Of course, I always recommend taking care of your pieces, but if you live an active lifestyle but still want color in your jewelry, then sapphire is a great option!
They come in various shades of deep blues, violets, greens, and more! I often use sapphires in my fine bridal sets, and I find a lot of the brides I work with LOVE a sapphire center stone compared to the more traditional diamond. There is plenty of history along with spectacular stories throughout time involving sapphires, so let’s dive right in!
What is a Sapphire?
Sapphire is the non-red variety of corundum. (The red variety of corundum is ruby.) Blue is, by far, the most popular color for sapphires, but they can be almost any color, including yellow, green, white, colorless, pink, orange, brown, and purple. Sapphires of all colors have been found across the globe in countries like Australia, Kashmir, China, Cambodia, and Madagascar.
There are even sapphire varieties that have their own special names! Take, for instance, the padparadscha (below). It is a rare orange-pink variety of sapphire and has a higher value and rarity than blue sapphires. In one word, a padparadscha sapphire is STUNNING. The name has its own story, too. Padparadscha, means “lotus flower” in Sinhalese, the language spoken in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans have a special affection for the orange-pink color that’s traditionally been linked with their country.
The sapphire name, in general, comes from the Greek word “sappheiros,” which originally referred to lapis lazuli. Most jewelry customers think all sapphires are blue, and when gem and jewelry professionals use the word “sapphire” alone, they normally mean “blue sapphire.”
History & Lore
Traditionally, sapphire symbolizes nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. It has decorated 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 ancient Greece and Rome, kings and queens were convinced that blue sapphires protected their owners from envy and harm. During the Middle Ages, the clergy wore blue sapphires to symbolize heaven, and ordinary folks thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings. 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 most famous royal sapphire today is the engagement ring given by England’s Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, and now worn by Princess Catherine. It features a 12-carat oval blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds.
Kristen Baird & Sapphires
It’s clear that I love sapphires, so let’s take a moment to check out some of my favorite projects with this mesmerizing stone!
One of my most popular ring designs is the Beneath the Stars ring. It's available in blue or violet sapphire, and the ring itself is simply stunning. This was the first ring I created as part of my fine jewelry line, and it has been on every banner, business card, and website header of mine, which is fun! It's been an evolution over time for me, with sapphires leading the way.
Another favorite is the Lily Pads by the Pond ring, which features a green sapphire at the center. Yes, that’s right, GREEN! With such a lovely, deep color and an intense sparkle, this ring draws so much attention and always shocks people when they learn that it is a sapphire. There’s something about the forest-like color and the story that grabs people and draws them in.
For the Magnificent Marquise ring, my client decided to use the extra materials from her redesign to create a one-of-a-kind piece for her mother — complete with a marquise cut sapphire from her grandmother's ring, diamonds from her grandmother's ring, and gold from her father’s wedding band. The wavy, flowing design perfectly highlighted the marquise sapphire and the accent diamonds, while the 14K yellow gold added to the balance and interest within the piece. Mmmmm, I do love a good blue sapphire/yellow gold combo!
Although I gush about each month’s birthstone, the sapphire is a truly special gem. With its various colors and durability, I find myself being inspired to create with sapphires constantly and not just in rings — necklaces, cuffs, and more. Stay tuned because I’ll probably have some new sapphire pieces to show off very soon!