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  • Writer's pictureAntiques in Oxford

Birthstone for September: Sapphire

Sapphire is the name of the gem-quality version of the mineral ‘corundum’. Its name derives from the Latin ‘sapphirus’ for blue. Sapphires can actually occur in every colour of the rainbow apart from red; as red gem corundum is known as ruby. Known for their hardness, second only to diamond, it’s easy to see why sapphires have stood the test of time.

From ancient Persian myths telling how the sky got its blue colour based on the reflection of sapphires; to modern day romance most notably as the engagement ring of choice gifted by Prince William to Kate Middleton. The most coveted sapphires are from Kashmir and Burma whose sapphires display the most superior rich blue hues and velvet tones, along with Sri Lanka where their sapphires tend to be a lighter cornflower blue.

Sapphires can also display a natural colour-change effect and an optical effect known as ‘asterism’ which gives the appearance of a star atop a cabochon-cut stone.

Traditionally given on a 45th wedding anniversary, to represent loyalty, faithfulness, and wisdom. Long associated with royalty. Two of the most famous sapphires in history are ‘St Edwards Sapphire’ and ‘The Stuart Sapphire’ – both are found in the Imperial State Crown, part of the British Crown Jewels.

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