“A Maiden born when autumn leaves
Are rustling in September’s breeze,
A Sapphire on her brow should bind;
To bring her joy and peace of mind.”
Luckily, for ladies born in September, the stone associated with their birth is the Sapphire. Sapphire is a precious stone and, though the most famous are blue, sapphires can be many colours: yellow, green, white, brown, purple, pink and even orange (called padparadscha). Sapphires can be several colours itself (parti-coloured) or they can be colour-changing (green in the day light and violet blue at night). Sapphires cannot however be red, or they would be called rubies. It is in fact the structure and chemicals in a sapphire which make it so.
Sapphires are found most famously in Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Australia and Thailand. Less famously, but reportedly, a sapphire was once found on an island off Scotland called Lewis! Sapphires are found in the rough as irregular shapes, often in rivers or dry river beds. They are then cut using diamond powder (or lasers) into the forms which you recognise on jewellery pieces.
Sapphires can be created synthetically but the rarest and most valuable are natural royal blue sapphires. Princess Diana’s engagement ring, which is now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge is an 18 carat royal blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds. The sapphire was mined near a town in Sri Lanka called Ratnapura and the ring was purchased by the Royal Family in 1980 for £30 000.
Sapphires are much rarer than diamonds, though usually less expensive than a diamond of similar quality. In the medieval period, they were the favourite gemstone worn by bishops. Their colour was symbolic of heaven and they were believed to promote pure thoughts, which would have been a real help during a time when priests were expected to remain celibate. Today, priests more usually choose to wear amethysts and sapphires are becoming increasingly popular as engagement rings.