September is a busy month when it comes to birthdays and sapphire is the gem of this month. The name sapphire is derived from the Latin word "saphirus" and the Greek word "sapheiros", both meaning blue. Some believe that the name sapphire is derived from its association with the planet Saturn. The name can be roughly translated to mean "dear to the planet Saturn" in many different languages. Blue sapphire belongs to the mineral species corundum. It can be pure blue but ranges from greenish blue to violet blue. The name “sapphire” can also apply to any corundum that’s not red and doesn’t qualify as ruby, another corundum variety. The Mohs hardness of sapphire is a 9, making it one of the hardest of the gemstones. They come in a variety of colors violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and intermediate hues. Some stones exhibit the phenomenon known as color change, most often going from blue in daylight or fluorescent lighting to purple under incandescent light. Sapphires can even be gray, black, or brown.
Traditionally, sapphire symbolizes nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. It has decorated the robes of royalty and clergy members for centuries. Its extraordinary color is the standard against which other blue gems—from topaz to tanzanite—are measured. In ancient Greece and Rome, kings and queens were convinced that blue sapphires protected their owners from envy and harm. During the Middle Ages, the clergy wore blue sapphires to symbolize Heaven, and ordinary folks thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings. Rulers of ancient Persia believed the sky was painted blue by the reflection of sapphire stones.
While sapphires are normally used in jewelry, they are also used in the manufacturing of electrical components due to their durability and high thermal conductivity. Additionally, sapphires are used to create powders and grits that are uniform in size, which can be used to manufacture materials such as sandpaper, cutting tools, and polishing compounds.
Because of their hardness, Sapphires can be cleaned in almost any way. Warm, soapy water is best, though you might also try ultrasonic cleaners and steamers. You can also try using water with a touch of ammonia in it. If you have a fracture in your sapphire or own a star sapphire, do not use mechanical cleaning methods as a sapphire can shatter with one single blow if hit sharply. This may be especially risky if the stone has inclusions, which weaken the crystal structure. As with most valuable stones, avoid doing heavy work or encountering chemicals while wearing your stone, as they can damage your settings.
Sapphires are not only the birthstone for September but also the gem of the 5th and 45th anniversaries. In recent years they have also become popular gems used in engagement rings.