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What is the birthstone for September?

The birthstone for September is sapphire. Sapphires are members of the gem species corundum. Depending on the exact chemistry of individual stones, sapphires may present a whole spectrum of colors with the exception of red. This is because red sapphires are put into their own category and called “rubies.” 

The blue variety of sapphire is a tremendously popular gemstone worldwide. It is part of the group called the Big 3 which also includes rubies and emeralds. Luckily for those born in September, blue sapphire is the most abundant and affordable option of the Big 3, making it widely accessible.

14K White Gold Oval Sapphire Birthstone Earrings James Allen
Find these Earrings at James AllenAcquiring beautiful birthstone jewelry should be practical for anyone. This pair of oval sapphire earrings cost less than $400.

What Color is Sapphire?

If you were born in September, you are very fortunate to have a birthstone that occurs in many different colors (just not red).  Sapphires that have a predominately blue color are simply called “sapphire” with no other description required. All other colors of sapphire are considered “fancy colored” and these gems will be explicitly referred to by their hue. Examples of this are “purple sapphire” or “green sapphire.” Like most colored gemstones, a sapphire’s color is evaluated based on its hue, tone, and saturation

Spectra Prong-Set Round Multi-Sapphire Chevron Ring Angara
Find this Ring at AngaraThis 14K rose gold ring showcases some of the many colors which sapphire can exhibit.

Corundum is inherently a colorless gemstone. For gems to take on a particular hue, trace elements must be present in the crystal lattice. From a technical perspective, the color of sapphires is caused primarily by the combination of three elements: iron, titanium, and chromium. Different concentrations of these elements in relation to each other result in varying hues. Below is a breakdown of what causes color expression in sapphire, and which are the most highly desired.

  • Blue sapphires contain iron and titanium but lack chromium. If these sapphires have relatively high levels of iron present, they will have darker colors. It is acceptable for blue sapphire to have green or violet undertones. The most prized and valuable sapphires of any color are those which are pure blue or are blue with a violet component. Vividly saturated colors are best, especially when accompanied by medium to medium-dark tones. Thanks to the popularity of this gem, there are many trade names for the different variations of blue that you may encounter. 
14K White Gold Imperial Sapphire and Diamond Necklace James Allen
Find this Pendant at James AllenThis demure 14K white gold pendant includes a central oval-cut sapphire highlighted by six additional marquise-cut sapphires.
  • Yellow and orange sapphires are colored by iron, possibly some chromium, and they lack titanium. Yellow sapphires can have some green or orange present in them while orange sapphires can have some hints of yellow or red. These sapphires can be light or dark and stronger color saturations are most desired.
1.55 Carat Round Yellow Sapphire James Allen
Find this Sapphire at James AllenThis 1.55-carat sapphire is listed as “yellow”, meaning that yellow is the dominant hue, but it appears to also have some orange undertones.
Shell Style Oval Yellow Sapphire and Diamond Pendant Angara
Find this Pendant at AngaraThe yellow sapphire set in this unique shell-shaped 14K yellow gold pendant shows off its vibrant color.
  • Green sapphires have a slightly more complicated reason for their color that involves the trace elements coupled with an intervalence charge transfer between atoms. They can show some yellow or blue in their color. Green sapphires are not the most popular of the fancy-colored sapphires because their green hue is rarely as pure or strong as other green gems like emeralds or tourmalines. Due to low demand, they are often reasonably priced.
1.28 Carat Oval Green Sapphire James Allen
Find this Sapphire at James AllenA 1.28-carat green sapphire offered by James Allen
GIA Certified Octagonal Green Sapphire (Teal) Floral Bale Pendant Angara
Find this Pendant at AngaraThey might be rare, but there are certainly some exceptional green sapphires to be found like this 16.39-carat gem set in a 14K white gold pendant with diamonds.
  • Pink sapphires get their color from high levels of chromium while a purple color results from several different combinations of the three trace elements. Both colors can present some red as long as it is not their dominant hue (which would make them rubies rather than sapphires). Pink and purple sapphires can be light or dark in tone and their saturation similarly ranges from weak to strong. Both of these fancy-colored sapphires are popular, with pink being especially sought-after for its romantic rosy color, but neither commands the same price-per-carat costs of fine blue sapphires.
Riviera Pavé Pink Sapphire and Diamond Ring in 14k White Gold Blue Nile
Find this Ring at Blue NileThis 14K white gold band with diamonds highlights the gentle pink tone of the sapphires.
Find this Bracelet at Blue NileYou will notice that the purple sapphires set in this 18K white gold bracelet alongside blue sapphires and diamonds closely resemble the color of the pink sapphires shown in the ring directly above.
  • Black sapphires may be truly black or might be a really dark shade of blue resulting from lots of iron. There is not a huge demand for black gemstones in general, which makes this one of the most cost-effective sapphire colors.
White Tungsten Carbide 8MM Black Sapphire Band by TRITON James Allen
Find this Ring at James AllenThis bold tungsten carbide ring features 36 small black sapphires with a total carat weight of approximately 1.08 carats.
  • The magnificent padparadscha sapphire earns an honorary mention on this list because it can command the highest price-per-carat values of the fancy-colored sapphires. The term “padparadscha” is a trade name used to describe sapphires whose color is similar to the lotus flower, featuring a combination of pink and orange. Being a trade term rather than a specific color, the definition of padparadscha is not completely standardized. However, most professionals agree that stones must exhibit intense saturation of color with a light to medium tone to be called by that name. These sapphires usually come from Sri Lanka.
  • Remember that corundum is a naturally colorless gem unless it has at least a few of those important trace elements. Without them, white sapphire is very similar in appearance to a colorless diamond. Because the durability of sapphire is quite high (more on this in a moment) white sapphire can actually be used as an affordable substitute for diamond.
Blue and White Sapphire Bracelet Blue Nile
Find this Bracelet at Blue NileThis 14K white gold bracelet features round white sapphires set with pear-shaped blue sapphires.
  • Finally, there are rare varieties of corundum that have what are called “phenomenal” effects. Sapphires with the element vanadium in their crystal lattice display a color change effect under different lighting conditions. These gems alternate between cool blues and violets in daylight, to a warm reddish-purple in incandescent light. Also, corundum is one of the few gemstone species which may display “asterism”, a phenomenon caused by rutile inclusions, rather than trace elements, within the crystal. Rutile can align so that a four, six, or twelve-rayed star appears in the stone. Star sapphires (as these gems are commonly referred to) are usually cut into a smooth, domed cabochon to highlight the star effect.

Sapphire Meaning

Sapphires have captivated the imaginations of people for thousands of years. Thanks to this deep history, coupled with the fact that they occur in a whole rainbow of colors, rich cultural symbolism surrounding this special stone has developed in many cultures. This is especially true of blue sapphires because they are found in so many locations and have sometimes been considered the most beautiful of the blue gemstones. Here is just a sampling of the many myths linked with blue sapphires.

Sapphire and Diamond Garland Ring Blue NIle
Find this Ring at Blue NileIt’s easy to get lost in the magical effect created by the sapphires in this platinum and diamond ring.

In ancient Greece, sapphires were associated with Zeus, god of the blue sky, and his son Apollo, god of the sun and prophecy. Oracles wore the blue variety of the September birthstone to enhance their ability to see into the future. A similar mythical association with the gem continued into the Middle Ages and sapphires were worn to help tap individuals into their intuitive “third eye”. 

The ancient Persians also connected the pure blue of sapphires with the sky. They thought that the heavens were blue because the air reflected the hue of a massive sapphire that held up the Earth. 

2.00 Carat Round Blue Sapphire James Allen
Find this Sapphire at James AllenThis 2.0-carat sapphire has a light tone which results in a friendly sky-blue color.

From a religious perspective, the sapphire was an important gemstone. It is specifically referred to in the Bible twelve times. Some believed that the Ten Commandments were inscribed on a tablet made of the blue gem. During the Middle Ages, sapphires were worn by Christian religious leaders including Popes, Cardinals and Bishops to both reflect and strengthen their religious purity. 

Continuing along this theme of purity, it was thought that the sapphire could act as a test of a woman’s fidelity toward her husband. If a woman held the stone and it changed color, that meant that she had been unfaithful. 

You can see that lore surrounding the blue variety of sapphires is ample. However, there are special meanings associated with the other colors as well. One of the themes which you will see repeated across the various colors – including blue – is a connection with the mind, wisdom, and protection. Here is a quick overview of some meanings associated with fancy-colored sapphires. 

GIA Certified Oval Pink Sapphire Ring with Diamond Half Halo Angara
Find this Ring at AngaraIt is not hard to become inspired by the vibrant pink sapphire set in this half-halo ring with diamonds and 18K white gold!

Yellow sapphire is thought to have a calming effect and help to strengthen marital relationships. Pink sapphire, like many of the red and pink gemstones, has romantic connotations. This gem reflects the loyalty of the wearer and is also believed to bring luck. Green sapphires are connected to spirituality and keeping one close is thought to improve mental clarity. Orange stones are believed to improve intuition and insight. Just as purple was often associated with royalty, the purple variety is affiliated with nobility and strength. Finally, many consider black sapphires helpful in grounding and centering one’s mind and body.

Spectra Round Multi-Sapphire Floral Dangle Earrings with Diamond Angara
Find these Earrings at AngaraThis pair of earringsset in 14K rose gold offers the wearer the benefits of six different colors of sapphire.

Lastly, six-rayed star sapphires are especially important to Christians who associate the three crossbars with the principles of faith, hope, and destiny. These gems have been referred to as a “stone of destiny”. They protect the wearer from both the Evil Eye and devils and are a favorite of travelers who wear them for extra protection. 

Where Does Sapphire Come From?

Fortunately, there are many sapphire deposits spread out on different continents. From locations in Africa like Nigeria and Madagascar to Australia to Asian locales like China and Thailand, and even sources in the USA, sapphire mines are everywhere. This abundance is the driving factor that keeps sapphires the most affordable option of the Big 3. While there are many sources, many of the most famously beautiful blue sapphires come from Kashmir, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar (formerly Burma). The mines from these locations are so renowned that gems which are confirmed to have originated from there may be slightly more valuable than stones from other places.

Most sapphires on the market weigh under five carats. However, sapphires have been found weighing hundreds of carats in total! As with other gems, the value of individual sapphires is greatly dependent on their overall size coupled with the quality of their color and transparency rating.

Solitaire Pear-Shaped Pink Sapphire Leverback Earrings Angara
Find these Earrings at AngaraThe pear-shaped pink sapphires in these 14K rose gold earrings weigh approximately 1.25 carats each.

Sapphire Durability

All colors of sapphire are ranked as a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. This is second only to diamond which has a perfect score of 10. This high score means that sapphire is exceptionally tough and resistant to both scratching and fracturing. In fact, sapphire is so strong that it may scratch other types of softer gemstones if stored improperly and allowed to rub against them. Since it is a highly stable gem, sapphires may be cleaned in ultrasonic devices as long as they do not have significant fractures or have undergone usual treatments. Like most gems, you can clean your sapphire jewelry whenever needed using a soft brush with soapy water or a specialized jewelry cleaning solution.

Tapered Baguette Diamond Cathedral Engagement Ring Blue Nile
Find this Ring at Blue NIleThe sides of the prong-set sapphire in this 14K white gold ring with diamonds may be exposed, but the stone is strong enough for you to wear it confidently every day!

Sapphire Jewelry

As sapphire is such a durable gemstone, it can be used in all types of jewelry, including engagement rings that see daily wear. Whether you are shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store, you will easily find a wide selection of sapphire necklaces, earrings, pendants, bracelets, rings, and more. Moreover, sapphire is readily available in all sizes and at many price points. Blue sapphire in particular is extremely popular. Statistically, more jewelry featuring this blue gem sells than items that showcase any other colored gemstone. 

Oval Sapphire and Diamond Halo Ring Blue Nile
Find this Ring at Blue NileThis 18K white gold sapphire and diamond engagement ring is similar in style to perhaps the most famous engagement ring of all time – the one belonging to Princess Diana now worn by her daughter-in-law, Duchess Kate.

When shopping for sapphire jewelry, here are a few factors to keep in mind. First, the best sapphires have “eye-clean” clarity, which means that they are perfectly transparent and have no internal inclusions or fractures that are visible to the naked eye. Secondly, the color distribution of some sapphires may not be perfectly even. Sapphires may have “color zoning” patterns, which describe a striped or blotchy appearance. If this zoning is obvious and distracting, it is considered a negative trait that lessens overall value.  

Emerald-Cut Yellow Sapphire and Diamond Ring Blue NIle
Find this Ring at Blue NileThe unheated 12.03-carat yellow sapphire set in this 18K white gold ring with diamond accents is advertised as being eye-clean.

If you are searching for trendy sapphire jewelry, look for round and oval brilliant cuts. These shapes have remained popular with both designers and consumers because they have beautiful sparkle patterns, and their shape complements many aesthetics. 

Oval Sapphire and Round Diamond Necklace Blue Nile
Find this Necklace at Blue NileThis sapphire and diamond necklace set in 14K white gold showcases many matched oval gems. We are fortunate that sapphires are a relatively abundant gem and stones weighing three, four, or more carats are not unusual. Thus, the September birthstone can be cut into a multitude of specialty shapes including marquise, pear, emerald, and cushion cuts.
Antique Cushion Pink Sapphire set in Platinum "Pizzazz" Sapphire and Diamond Right Hand Ring White Flash
Find this Ring at White FlashThis substantial diamond ring designed to be worn on the right hand is set with a showstopping 6.03 carat antique cushion-cut pink sapphire.

The last point to address regarding sapphire jewelry is in regard to the synthetic stones available on the market. First synthesized over a hundred years ago, lab-grown sapphires, or synthetic sapphires, have the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as natural sapphires. The only difference is the way they form – synthetic sapphires are created in a lab while natural sapphires grow in the earth. Synthetic sapphires are usually grown with vivid colors and fewer imperfections than most natural sapphires. However, the difference in price between comparable lab-grown and natural sapphires can be thousands of dollars per carat! While the resale value of synthetic sapphires is not nearly as strong as the natural option, lab-grown sapphires can be an economical choice if you want a bigger, brighter gem, or are seeking jewelry featuring many individual stones.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sapphires

What does sapphire mean?

Having been highly desired for many centuries, sapphires have picked up a multitude of meanings from different cultures. Most lore surrounds blue sapphires which are connected to the blue sky, purity (mental and physical), and spirituality in general. Many differently colored sapphires in addition to the blue variety can be worn as amulets shielding the wearer from the impure thoughts of others. The various colors are also associated with slightly different aspects of mental awareness, intuition, and wisdom. Many wear sapphire jewelry for luck.

What does sapphire do for healing?

Sapphire is most closely associated with the mind and with spirituality. As such, people wear them to help ease mental agitation and even improve mental illness. There is also an ancient belief that blue sapphire has the power to soothe and heal the eyes. During the Middle Ages, sapphires were thought to be an antidote to some poisons.

How much is sapphire worth?

Individuals born in September are blessed in that sapphire in all of its possible colors is available at many price points. While the finest stones with exceptional color and size can be very expensive, there are plenty of gems set in all types of jewelry that can be accommodated by almost any budget.

How do I care for my sapphire?

Sapphire is a very durable gemstone. Not only is it physically tough, making it difficult to scratch or break, but its color is also highly stable. This means that you can safely use any standard jewelry cleaning technique on most stones. With few exceptions, your local jeweler can use ultrasonic cleaners to bring back the sparkle of your sapphires. You should ask your jeweler to check for fractures and unusual treatments like dyeing or fracture-filling before putting them in the machine. For regular at-home cleanings, simply use a soft brush with soapy water or jewelry cleaning solution.

Can sapphire be treated?

Absolutely! It is well understood that corundum has the potential to have a significantly positive reaction to controlled heat exposure. Blue sapphires can have an especially good reaction to heat, and it is estimated that approximately 95% of them have been treated to some degree. Depending on how heat treatment is performed, it can be used to remove inclusions and improve the hue, tone, and saturation of your sapphire. Not only can heating improve the appearance of sapphires, but it is so well-tolerated by corundum crystals that, in rare cases, even professional grading laboratories can’t be sure if a stone was heated.

Although heating is a common practice for the majority of sapphires on the market, the highest-quality untreated stones can be worth up to 50% more than similar heat-treated ones. Thus, if you are interested in buying a high-value sapphire that does not already have a gemological report, it may be advisable for you to have it sent to a lab to verify whether or not it has been heated. 

There are other types of treatments that may be used to improve the appearance of sapphires like dyeing, fracture filling with oil or epoxy, and an extreme heating procedure called “lattice diffusion”. However, unlike regular heating, the use of these techniques is rare, and their implementation devalues gems.

Are there synthetic/lab-grown sapphires on the market?

Yes. Corundum was first synthesized at the end of the 19th century and there are currently several methods used to grow commercial sapphire. As long as it is clearly disclosed by sellers that stones are lab-grown, there is nothing wrong with sapphire synthetics! In addition to being more affordable than the natural gem, synthetics can be grown to large carat weights and often have beautiful, even color paired with exceptional clarity. The best lab-grown sapphires are so similar to natural ones that only a gemologist using magnification can identify them.