Few people realize that this gemstone, the birthstone for those born in September, is available in every colour imaginable, except red. Although the intense velvety blue hue of Sri Lanka and Kashmir sapphires have been the most sought after through the ages, beautiful yellows, pinks, purples and others are also available today. These “fancy” colours are at present found in sources such as Australia and especially East Africa.
The legends associated with the sapphire are numerous. The ancient Persians, for example, believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire. Other early cultures wore the stone as protection against poisoning. All through the ages, the sapphire has symbolized truth, sincerity and constancy.
Many of these people actually reburied stones of poorer colour, believing that being “unripe”, they would improve with time back in the ground. As time went on, more scientific minds discovered that when paler tones and stones of less attractive hue were “baked” or heated, colour could be improved. As with rubies, this practise has continued right up to the present in many countries where sapphires are mined. Those involved in the treatment, consider the complex process to be simply the completion of what Mother Nature started.
No special care is required to maintain the beauty of sapphires. Indeed, the durability of the gem, even those heat-treated, is excellent. Regular jewellery cleaning methods are quite suitable.
* image courtesy the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA)