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Sapphire

Birthstone: September

Anniversary stone: 5th year of marriage

History:

Found in several places around the world including Burma, Kashmir, Sri Lanka and Madagascar, sapphires derived their name from the Latin word "sapphirus" meaning "blue". Sapphires are often referred to as the "gem of the heavens" or the "celestial" gem as their colours mirror the colours of the sky at different times of the day. From hot pink to forest green, sapphires can be found in a variety of different colours. The word sapphire implies blue sapphires only, sapphires of all other colours are collectively termed "fancy sapphires".

Blue sapphires are the most popular and sought after type of sapphire, found in varying shades of blue from pale baby blue to rich royal blue, they are the most well known and in demand of all the gemstones today. Sri Lanka, formally Ceylon, lends its name to one of the finest types of sapphire, the "ceylon sapphire", and is one of the world's finest producers of sapphires along with Kashmir.

Characteristics:

Sapphires are from the corundum family which also contains ruby. In fact the only thing that separates sapphires and rubies is their colour. Blue sapphires are the most desirable and expensive of the sapphire family and is also one of the toughest gemstones, with only diamonds being harder.

The Mohs' scale measures a gems relative hardness on a scale of 1 to 10 based on the stones "scratchability". Diamond is the hardest at 10, sapphire and rubies measure 9 with pearl at around 3½ and amber at 2 ½. Sapphire is a very hard gemstone measuring 9 on the Mohs’ scale.

Care and Cleaning:

Sapphires are fairly easy to care for due to their hardness and require no more care than usual by the wearer. It is however recommended that sapphire jewellery should be removed when doing heavy work to protect the gemstone from damage. Sapphires can be cleaned using specialist equipment available at jewellery stores. They can also be cleaned at home using warm soapy water and a soft toothbrush to remove any dirt or dust from behind the stone

Legend and Lore:

Sapphires have long been prized possessions of emperors, kings and queens; even today royalty give sapphires over diamonds as engagement rings as they are known to be far rarer than diamonds. Ceylon sapphires were made famous in 1981 when Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana with a stunning 18 carat ceylonese sapphire. Sapphires symbolise truth, sincerity and faithfulness, and are thought to bring peace, joy and wisdom to their owners.