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The September Birthstone

Sapphires lead
© Nikolay Mikheev | Dreamstime

The idea of a different gemstone representing each month of the year dates back to Biblical times. The Jewish historian Josephus made a record of Aaron from the Book of Exodus wearing a breastplate decorated by twelve stones all the way back in the first century. We will be exploring the properties and traditions of each stone monthly on Facet. In September, the stone identified by the American Gem Society is the lovely blue sapphire.

(Missed our story about peridots and sardonyx for August? Check it out here!)

Sapphires are said to represent loyalty and trust; purity and wisdom. When worn, the stone can help the wearer focus on intellectual pursuits. It encourages self-discipline, and is said to help one connect to a higher power. It can also protect against snakes!!

Raw Sapphires
© Ingemar Magnusson | Dreamstime

An extremely hard stone measuring a 9 on the Mohs scale, sapphires are used in electronics, watch crystals, and other scientifc instruments.  It is a naturally-occuring gemstone found in many parts of the world, ranging from Australia to South America to Africa to Montana here in the US. But those most prized for their stunning blue color and clarity are found in Myanmar, Kashmir and Sri Lanka.

The color of a blue sapphire can range from a pale baby blue to a dark midnight blue; generally, the darker the stone, the higher price it commands. But not all sapphires are blue: they have been found in a range of colors including pink (which is highly prized), orange, yellow, and several shades in between. The Padparadscha stone is an orange-pink variety that is very rare. Stones from the ground are frequently treated with intense heat or irradiation to intensify the color, but those effects can be temporary. Be sure to always source sapphires from reputable sources! 

There is no such thing as a red sapphire: a red stone with the same chemical composition is actually referred to as a ruby!

A few famous figures in history were fans of the sapphire: Catherine the Great of Russia once owned a 337-karat stone. Empress Josephine, the wife of Napolean Bonaparte, was said to favor a collection called the Parure of Queen Marie Antoinette (or alternatively, the Parure of Queen Marie-Amelie -- no clear provenance can be traced back to Josephine). This stunning seven-piece collection of diadem, necklace, brooches, and earrings passed through several other royal hands but can now be seen at the Louvre in Paris. 

And of course, a 12-carat oval sapphire formed the center of the most famous engagement ring of the modern era, presented by Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. The ring, which features a stunning midnight blue stone set in white gold and surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds, is now worn by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, the wife of Prince William (Charles and Diana's son). 

Of course, not all of us can afford a 12-carat stone, but there are many great alternatives to the real thing that you can use to make jewelry to commemorate a September birthday. Here are some of the projects on Facet for the more budget-conscious among us!

Stunning Sapphire bracelet
Sometimes actual gemstones are out of reach and you need to fins an alternative. This bracelet by Cathy Jakicic uses a patina on base metal charms to mimic the stunning nature of the sapphire. 
September birthstone Sapphire crystal necklace
Swarovski crystals in sapphire blue can provide another lovely alternative to the real this! This Y-shaped chain necklace is easy to make and looks great on everyone! 
September Sapphire earrings
These easy earrings would make a quick-and-lovely gift for someone with a September bithday. Cathy Jakicic used Lucite to mimic a chunk of gorgeous blue stone.  
September birthstone Sapphire bracelet hero
Mindy Greenville found sapphire briolettes in three different shades, and put them together to create this unique ombre effect. An easy bracelet that would look great with a white shirt and jeans!