In a set of poems released by Tiffany & Co. in 1870, each month is matched with a gemstone. The poem for September reads:
“A maiden born when September leaves
Are rustling in September’s breeze,
A sapphire on her brow should bind
`Twill cure diseases of the mind.”
Sapphire is also associated with the Zodiac sign of Taurus.
Sapphire is mostly known as a deep blue gemstone. Sapphire is a member of the corundum mineral family along with Ruby. Corundum forms in many different colors in nature. Corundum is made up of the elements Aluminum (Al) and Oxygen (O). Trace amounts of other elements such as Iron (Fe), Titanium (Ti), Chromium (Cr), Copper (Cu), or Magnesium (Mg) can give corundum blue, yellow, pink, purple, orange, or a greenish color. The pinkish red of Ruby comes from Chromium. Iron and Titanium are responsible for creating the brilliant blue Sapphire. Sapphire can also be found colorless.
Sapphire is extremely hard, next in hardness to diamond at 9 on the Mohs scale. Sapphire is extremely scratch and chemical resistant. It is also quite clear and can be used in lasers and for watch crystals, among other industrial purposes.
Madagascar is currently the leading gem quality Sapphire supplier in the world. Other major supplies come from Australia and Sri Lanka. In the USA, Sapphires can be found in certain areas of Montana.
The 423-carat (85 g) Logan sapphire in the National Museum of Natural History, in Washington, D.C., is one of the largest faceted gem-quality blue sapphires in existence.
In 1902 the French chemist Auguste Verneuil developed a process for producing synthetic sapphire crystals. A little over a decade later another process was developed which created better quality gemstones called the Czochralski process. Chemical dopants can be added to create artificial versions of the ruby, and all the other natural colors of sapphire, and in addition, other colors never seen in geological samples. Artificial sapphire material is identical to natural sapphire, except it can be made without the flaws that are found in natural stones. Most of the world’s synthetic sapphire is made in the United States and Russia.
Sapphire can also be enhanced by heat treating. The vast majority of natural sapphire on the market is heat treated to improve color and clarity.
A gift of a sapphire symbolizes a pledge of trust and loyalty. It is from this tradition that sapphire has long been a popular choice for engagement rings. Sapphire is known as a stone of wisdom, a royal stone of learning, mental acuity and psychic activation. As a talisman, Sapphire was thought to preserve chastity, discover fraud and treachery, protect its wearer from poison, plague, fever and skin diseases, and had great power in resisting black magic and ill-wishing. Buddhists believed it brought devotion and spiritual enlightenment, and the Hindus considered Sapphire as one of the “great gems” used in offerings in the temples for worship and to align astrological influences. In Christianity it was used in ecclesiastical rings, and was cherished by kings and nobility for its powers of protection and insight.