September’s birthstone, the sapphire, has always been incredibly sought after. This gorgeous gemstone, considered one of the Big 4 gemstones, comes in a multitude of colours, including yellow, pink, peach, blue, green, colourless, purple, violet and even colours which change in different lighting conditions (colour change sapphires).
One of the most valuable of these colours in the sapphire family is the blue sapphire. However, even within this iconic colour lies a range of differently valued hues and tones, the most desirable being the "cornflower blue" sapphire. Also getting increasingly popular is the Padparadscha sapphire, a rare and valuable pinkish-orange sapphire named from the Sinhalese word for lotus blossom.
Traditionally, sapphires symbolize nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. It has been worn by royalty and clergy members for centuries.
Through the ages, sapphires have been associated with royalty and romance and this was reinforced when Britain’s Prince Charles gave his bride to be - Lady Diana Spencer - a 12-carat blue sapphire and diamond engagement ring. Their son, Prince William, later gave this same ring to Kate Middleton when he proposed to her in 2010.
Sapphires come from a variety of sources including Madagascar, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and Australia, with the finest and most expensive cornflower blue sapphires reputedly coming from Kashmir.
Like many other gemstones, there are several processes which are used to improve the colour and clarity of sapphires, including heating, fracture filling and beryllium diffusion. Sapphires on the market come not only from natural sources, but can also be man-made. Given that they can be very expensive, imitations also exist. These man made, synthetic or imitations of sapphires can be hard to distinguish from natural sapphires, hence it is therefore important to purchase your sapphires from a reputable seller who is educated on these treatments and who practises full disclosure.
Sapphire stands at 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, so it is a good choice for rings and other types of jewellery like earrings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets. However, avoid exposure to heat, sudden changes in air pressure and harsh chemicals. . The best way to clean sapphires is to gently brush them with a soft brush and warm, soapy water.