The long holiday weekend has ushered in the exciting month of September! For the next month you can expect to see kids heading off to school, professional football games, pumpkin lattes (yes, already), and the first signs of fall. Don’t be surprised, however, if you see a stunning array of sapphire jewelry—this gorgeous gem is September’s birthstone!
♦ Sapphires come in every color of the rainbow.
♦ Sapphires are very durable stones. They are not indestructible, but they handle everyday wear incredibly well!
♦ They are cut in nearly every shape. Emeralds and asschers are slightly rarer, but make for a truly unique piece.
♦ Blue is the color of fidelity, and they were originally the premier engagement ring choice (over diamonds)!
♦ Sapphires have been revered for centuries for their mythical properties and symbolism, making them a popular gemstone amongst royals.
If you are looking to buy a sapphire—whether it is for an engagement ring, a pendant, a pair of earrings, or a stunning antique ring—you’ll probably have some questions about the gemstone. To help answer those questions we asked our jewelry specialists to tell us everything there is to know about sapphires. From their expertise comes this informative guide to purchasing the perfect sapphire!
All About Sapphire…
As mentioned earlier, sapphires come in an incredible range of colors, all of which depend on three factors: hue, tone, and saturation. When most of us think of color, we are actually thinking of the hue of the gemstone. The hue is what we refer to when we say that a sapphire is blue, green, etc. Tone refers to how light or dark the gem is. For example, a citrus green sapphire and a forest green sapphire are both green, but they have different tones. Finally there is saturation, which is used to indicate how much grey or brown is affecting the color of the stone. Highly saturated gemstones display pure, true colors.
But how, you might ask, do sapphires become different colors? It all starts underground; sapphires mainly form in basalt, which is a type of rock. The color of a sapphire is actually determined by the type of basalt it is formed in. These gemstones take on certain “trace elements” from the surrounding rock, causing a change in color. For example, Sri Lankan sapphires are formed in marble basalt, which produces highly desirable sapphires. This is why sapphires that are formed in one country may appear different from sapphires that come from a different country.
Traditionally, the most highly valued sapphires have come from Kashmir (in Pakistan/India), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and Burma. Sri Lanka has been producing stunning, ethical sapphires for over 2000 years, which is why the majority of our sapphires come from this region.
Diamonds are cut with maximum sparkle in mind, but sapphires are cut in a way that will result in the best color possible. Deeper cuts will enrich a sapphire’s color whereas shallow cuts will lighten up a stone that might be too dark. Well cut sapphires should not display extinction (when a gem reflects black instead of its true color) o windowing (when a gem becomes entirely see-through).
Make sure that you don’t confuse a sapphire’s clarity with the diamond clarity scale—they are completely different! There is no established scale for sapphires. If any internal characteristics cannot be readily seen, then a sapphire is considered “eye clean.” If a sapphire is eye clean, that means that you will have to inspect the stone very closely before you discover any natural internal characteristics with the unaided eye.
Most sapphires receive heat treatment, which has the ability to subtly enhance the intensity of color and reduce the appearance of certain inclusions. Treatments are often completed at the mine site and are completely natural—all it takes is sand and fire! Heat treatments have nothing to do with coatings or dye. The heat slightly changes a sapphire’s chemical composition in order to bring out its true potential. This process is considered standard in the jewelry industry, so it is wise to assume that a gemstone has been heat treated unless otherwise stated.
Our jewelry specialists had some amazing recommendations for when it comes to buying a sapphire. The first suggestion is to avoid sapphires that are treated with beryllium diffusion/irradiation. These treatments must be declared to consumers because they can falsely inflate the value of a gemstone, leaving you paying top dollar for what is actually a poor quality sapphire. Brilliant Earth does not offer sapphires that have undergone beryllium diffusion/irradiation.
Second, our specialists pointed out that sapphires offer an excellent value compared to many other sought after gemstones. If your budget restricts you from choosing a natural sapphire, we highly recommend lab created sapphires. These budget-friendly gemstones are created in a lab and feature the same chemical and optical properties as natural sapphires!
To everyone born in the month of September, we’d like to wish you a happy birthday. Your beautiful birthstone brings great joy to so many! Tell us what you love about sapphires on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments!