Sapphire, September’s birthstone, is a stunning gem once reserved for royalty and believed to facilitate communication with the divine. This precious stone has been said to bring blessings from heaven to the wearer. In ancient times, one would wear a sapphire ring while visiting an oracle to increase the odds of receiving a prophecy. These rings are also connected with 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries—as well as famous, regal wedding engagements. Discover the interesting facts, folklore, and superstitions about this powerful gem. Read on.
Sapphire birthstone Facts
How Are They Made?
This gem is part of the corundum family and made of corundum, aluminum, and oxygen. When titanium and iron are present, a blue one is created.
What Makes Them Rare?
A sapphire cannot be formed when the common element of silicone is present. This is what makes it so rare.
Blue is the most common color, but these stones also come in a variety of colors: violet, purple, green, pink, yellow. They may also be grey, black, and brown.
On rare occasions, they may even be clear. Red corundum are classified as rubies. Any color besides blue (and red), is considered “fancy color” sapphire.
The rarest variety of fancy sapphire is the padparadscha derived from the Sinhalese word for lotus flower which is a pinkish-orange color.
There are also rare ones that change color in certain light. They range in color from blue to purple depending on the light source.
The Most Valuable: Cornflower Sapphire
The most valuable is the cornflower sapphire, which is medium to deep blue in color.
Where Are They Found?
Sapphires have been found all over the world. Different mining locations offer up sapphires with different shades, elemental compositions, or types of mineral inclusions.
Today, however, most sapphires come from South Africa (especially Tanzania and Madagascar), or southern Asia (Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, or Cambodia).
Sapphire Birthstone Folklore
Connection With Heaven
- In biblical times, it was said the Ten Commandments were carved into stone using this durable gem!
- In the Middle Ages, blue sapphire was thought to symbolize heaven and to bring the blessings of heaven to the wearer.
- They are associated with chastity and seen as a sanctified gem. This could be why sapphire rings are so popular among the clergy.
Communication & Prophecy
In many ancient cultures, this precious gem was believed to make connections with the spirit world. Some people even believed that they allowed for communication with the gods.
It is said that people who visited the oracles would wear a sapphire ring (or other sapphire jewelry) to help receive a prophetic message.
Roots Of A “Wishing Tree”
In Hindu mythology, there was a divine tree called the Kaplavriksha tree that was believed to grant wishes. The tree was said to be made from gem stones. The roots of the tree were sapphires, the trunk was diamonds, and the fruits were rubies.
Hindus believe that sapphires are connected with Saturn, which is seen as a particularly spiritual planet.
A Pedestal Supporting The Earth
In ancient Persia, it was believed that the Earth was supported by a sapphire pedestal.
Blue gems were thought to be broken pieces of this pedestal. (This pedestal also explained why the sky was blue. However this is not the case. Learn why the sky is blue.)
Rare “Star” Sapphires
“Star” sapphires—ones with three distinct inclusions that form a starlike shape—were believed to be the best for tapping into mystical powers.
Christians have referred to this form of the stone as the “stone of destiny,” believing that the star’s three crossbars symbolized faith, hope and destiny.
This form of the September birthstone is thought to ward off evil, protect against illness and bad omens. For these reasons, they are used as a protective talisman for travelers.
More Metaphysical Properties Of Sapphire
- Hindus believe they help build muscle and aid ailments related to the skeletal system, such as arthritis.
- Folklore medicine says they may ease pain and stress.
- Wearing this prized gem is thought to help people keep their promises.
- In the 15th century, people believed holding one near a spider would kill it.
- People also thought placing a venomous snake inside a sapphire vessel would kill it.
- It’s been said that if you dream that you’re wearing this stone, you should beware and be less impulsive.
- An old Italian superstition says that this gem protects against eye problems and depression.
- Egyptians believe all blue gemstones to be an antidote to poison and heal eye ailments.
Prometheus And The First Sapphire
In Greece, this gem was associated with Apollo, the God of the Sun. In one Greek legend, Prometheus was chained to a giant blue stone as punishment for teaching humanity about fire. It is said that the first sapphire was a small chunk left on Prometheus’ finger after Hercules freed him from the stone.
Reserved For Royalty
This stunning stone has long been associated with royalty. Ordinary people were not allowed to wear sapphires until after the 17th century.
Greek and Roman rulers wore them as protection from jealousy and ill wishes. They also believed this September birthstone attracted wealth and would inspire peace and harmony in their kingdom.
Napoleon Bonaparte gave his bride-to-be a sapphire engagement ring in 1796.
Princess Diana’s infamous 18-carat sapphire engagement ring is now worn by Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales. It was given to her by Prince William when he proposed in 2010. It was styled after the sapphire and diamond brooch given to Queen Victoria by her beloved Albert, and she wore it on her wedding day as her “something blue.”
In addition to being September’s birthstone, sapphires are also linked to 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries, as well as the 65th jubilee. Jubilees, if you’re unaware, are the coronation anniversaries of reigning British monarchs. The late Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee—the first in Britain’s history—in 2017.
The Star Of Adam
The Star of Adam is not only the world’s largest, it is also the most expensive. This stone has 1404.49 carats and weighs almost 10 ounces.
It was found in a Sri Lankan mine in 2016. If it were to be sold, it is valued at around $100 million. However some say it may sell for more than $175 million.
The Star Of India
The Star of India is the largest blue star sapphire in the world. This stone holds 563 carats which is about the size of a golf ball.
The star appearance of this stone (called asterism) is caused by the presence of rutile within it. This creates the lines which cause the starred appearance. You can see this amazing gem at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The Star of India was one of the stones taken in the famous heist in 1964 by Jack Murphy and Allan Kuhn.
The Blue Belle Of Asia
The Blue Belle of Asia was found in Sri Lanka in 1926. This cushion cut gem boosts 392.52 carats. It is suspended on diamonds and mounted on a diamond and white gold necklace.
It was originally intended to be a coronation gift for Queen Elizabeth II. However it disappeared into the private sector for about 35 years. It was sold in 2014 to a private collector for almost $17 million.
The name sapphire comes from the Greek word sappheiros and the Latin word sapphirus, which both simply mean blue.
In ancient times, this name likely referred to the stone lapis lazuli—not the gem that we know as sapphire today. (Read more about lapis lazuli in the “Alternative September Birthstone” section below.)
Alternative September Birthstones
Sapphires are not the only way to honor the month of September. Two alternative stones are lapis lazuli and aventurine.
Lapis lazuli is a blue stone with similar metaphysical properties. It’s associated with illumination, communication, and protection.
In ancient times, lapis lazuli was likely misidentified as sapphire.
Lapis is believed to increase self-esteem and aid communication. It is thought to bring spiritual connection and strength to overcome obstacles.
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We can look to the zodiac calendar for another wonderful option. Aventurine is associated with the zodiac sign Virgo. This beautiful green stone is known as a stone of abundance, empathy and creativity.
Aventurine is also said to be connected to the kingdom of the gods.
No matter what stone speaks to you, they are all beautiful options to celebrate the month of September!
Join The Discussion!
Is September your birth month? Do you have a sapphire birthstone ring? (If not, consider the alternative stone, lapis lazuli, mentioned above.)
What fact or piece of folklore interests you the most about this beautiful gem?
Tamra Albright-Johnson specializes in the unique histories and folklore around rare stones. She owns and operates a custom jewelry shop with her daughter, Kennie, in Iowa.