Early civilization as far back as the Assyrians (1400 BC) invested rare and beautiful gemstones with magical properties. Some minerals were thought to contain a force or possess certain values and powers. For instance, amethyst was said to prevent intoxication. Tradition associates a gem with each sign of the zodiac based on a color system. Color was thought to unleash the power attributed to the birthstone. In time, birthstones became associated with calendar months rather than the zodiac. And people began to select birthstones in colors other than the original.
The idea that certain birthstones were associated with certain months goes back at least to the 1st century CE. Oddly enough, the idea of wearing one's birthstone - that is, wearing a piece of jewelry containing the gemstone associated with the month one was born in - appears to be much more recent. George Frederick Kunz, in The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, states that the custom began in Poland during the 18th century. The wearing of one's birthstone is traditionally thought to be lucky. Thus, if someone was born in the month of September, and he or she wears an sapphire (one's "birthstone"), one should attract good fortune. Sapphire is the September birthstone as well as the accepted anniversary gem for the 5th and 45th years of marriage.
Sapphire, a variety of corundum, comes in all colors except red (the red variety being known as ruby), but is especially popular in deep blue. Fancy colored sapphires-including pink, green, orange, and golden yellow-are magnificent when combined in a necklace or bracelet.
Prince Charles chose a blue sapphire for Princess Diana's engagement ring. The stone's durability, combined with its beauty, makes it the perfect alternative for an engagement ring.
Ancient priests and sorcerers honored sapphire above all gems, for this stone enabled them to interpret oracles and foretell the future. Ancients believed the Ten Commandments were written on a sapphire tablet. Marriage partners put great faith in the stone. If its luster dimmed, one knew his or her spouse had been unfaithful. Sapphire refused to shine when worn by the wicked or impure.
As part of the customary fashioning process, virtually all blue, yellow and golden sapphires are heated to permanently produce or intensify their color.
Sapphire was named after the Greek word "sapphirus", meaning blue. The striking deep blue of a quality sapphire is reminiscent of a cloudless night sky. Ancient civilizations believed that the world was set upon an enormous sapphire, which painted the sky blue with its reflection. In ancient times, Sapphires were thought to be protective against envy, and even against poisoning. A common belief was that a venomous snake placed in a Sapphire vessel would rapidly die! Ground to a powder, the blue stone was believed to cure colic, rheumatism and mental illness, and to strengthen eyesight.
Sapphire has long symbolized truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. The Tradition holds that Moses was given the Ten Commandments on tablets of sapphire, making it the most sacred gemstone. Because sapphires represent divine favor, they were the gemstone of choice for kings and high priests. The British Crown Jewels are full of large blue sapphires, and even more recently Prince Charles chose a sapphire engagement ring for Princess Diana. The ancients regarded star sapphires as a very powerful talisman, a guiding star for travelers and seekers of all kinds.
As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows. Also be aware of protecting the mounting. Household chemicals may discolor or damage the mounting. Chlorine (pools and hot tubs) are something to be cautious of while wearing any jewelry.
Sapphire is found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Kasmir, Australia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, China and the U.S.