Ancient Persians once thought that the earth was set upon an enormous sapphire, the reflection of which could be seen in the sky. This romantic idea has endured the discoveries made throughout time and has secured the sapphire's place as one of the most sought after gemstones.
The sapphire is September's birthstone and ranks a 9 on the Mohs Scale, which means that the durability of a sapphire is tied with the ruby and is second only to the diamond. Most often gifts of sapphire are popular for those who celebrate a birthday in September, however, the ancient trend of giving sapphires as an engagement ring is making a slow comeback; one that started in the 1980's when Price Charles presented Lady Diana with an engagement ring of sapphire surrounded by diamonds. The stone itself is said to symbolize sincerity and faithfulness which makes it an excellent and unique choice.
Gifts of sapphire can be found in an endless array of settings using various precious metals. Due to its durability, this gem is ideally suited for placement in a ring, as it is able to hold up to everyday impact. The ideal marriage of a fine gem with a fine metal would be to place the sapphire in platinum, a timeless metal that will hold its shape and luster.
When searching for sapphires, the average buyer can be overwhelmed by the variety of gems. A sapphire is a sapphire; blue is blue, right? Not really. First of all, sapphires can be found in every color; from blues to pinks, oranges, yellows, and even white. Every color, that is, except red. Why? Because red sapphires are known by a different name -- rubies. The sapphire and the ruby are from the same corundum family of minerals and that is why sapphires and rubies are often paired and displayed together. They are nature's siblings. Sapphires other than the traditional blue color are known as fancy sapphires. Fancy sapphires offer a beautiful variety of colors for the buyer to choose from, however they are considered slightly less valuable. The traditional blue sapphire is more desirable among collectors, but even within that one color, there are endless variations.
When shopping for a blue sapphire, the buyer will be faced with everything from pale sky-blue to dark navy-blue and everything in between. Top quality sapphires are royal blue with no gray, black, or green overtones. A completely internally flawless stone is next to impossible to find and must be kept in mind when viewing the gem under a microscope. Try to think of the inclusions as natures watermark on where the gem has been on its way to you so as not to see the gem as flawed, but rather stamped with Mother Nature's seal of approval.
Star sapphires are a unique occurrence as it is the flaw that makes the stone valuable. What makes the star effect in the sapphire is a tiny, needle like inclusion in the gem. The stones are cut to a cabochon shape (dome) to enable the dancing star effect in the middle of the gem to be visible. Used most often for men's fashions, the star sapphire is becoming an increasingly rare gem.
How can sapphires be so rare when a buyer can find them at every store and on-line? Two reasons: 99.9% of all natural sapphires are now heat-treated to enhance their natural colors and hide flaws; and lab-created gems are widely accepted and easily obtained everywhere. Lab-created sapphires will have a few tell-tale signs, however -- they are less expensive, often are large in shape, and the color will be a spot-on true royal blue. As always, buyer, know exactly what you are paying for when shopping for the highly revered sapphire.