September Birthstone: Sapphire

Alternate Birthstone: Lapis Lazuli
Ancient Birthstone: Carnelian
Zodiac sign for Virgo August 23-September 22: Sapphire
Libra September 23- October 22: Opal


Dark blue sapphire beads

Those born in September claim sapphire as their birthstone. Blue sapphire is a variant of corundum, ranging in color from a pure blue, light blue or darker shades and can have a dark greenish to violet-blue undertone. Medium blues with a violet tint are the most valuable and sought after. Multiple colors of sapphire are common, known as pink, orange, green, or purple sapphire and all are corundum with differing minerals or metals accounting for the variation in color.  Colorless or white sapphires have no minerals influencing their color. Blue sapphires are colored with a combination of titanium and iron, producing a blue hue. Sapphires like other corundum are very hard, a 9 on the Moh’s scale, and so are also used in industrial applications. Lab grown sapphire is used for bulletproof windows for armored cars and glass covers of instrument gauges in very high heat and pressure situations. Most sapphires are heat-treated to intensify the color and remove internal flaws, improving color and clarity. Natural gem quality stones are rare, and should have certification that they have had no treatment.


Rich multicolor sapphire beads.multisapphires

Gem quality sapphires are mined around the world. Australia, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar are primary suppliers. In the US, Montana has several locations where sapphires are mined from deposits and the most recently opened mine, the Yogo, produces fine blue sapphires.

Sapphires get their name from several ancient roots, Latin, sapphirus meaning blue, and the Arabic saphir. It is known as the ‘”Celestial stone” and used in many religions from a  sign of the heavenly realm, to gods like Apollo, and the Virgin Mary. Sapphires are believed to offer protection from harm and envy, ensure fidelity and guard one from snakes and serpents.

An alternate to sapphire for a September birthstone is another blue stone, Lapis Lazuli. Its deep blue color has been an attraction for generations. The blue color varies from true dark blue to violet and greenish blue. Its color can be improved with heat and dyeing treatments. The mineral composition of lapis is lazuirte, a feldspothoid silicate mineral. It may contain, white bands of calcite, blue sodalite, and pyrite. Lapis is a soft stone 5-6 on the Moh’s scale which means it is easy to cut into cabochons and beads.

Lapis lazuli has been associated with truth, friendship and harmonious relationships. When worn next to the body lapis is said to help with headaches, sore throats and varicose veins.


Natural lapis rough from Afghanistan


Faceted and smooth lapis beads

Suggestions for using sapphire and lapis lazuli in your jewelry

Try mixing blue sapphires with black, onyx or faceted spinel, the darker color with enhance the blue color. Just a few beads? Use precious stone beads to their best advantage, an illusion knotted necklace shows off just a few lovely beads. Colorful mixed sapphire beads have warm tones, adding gold will make for a ‘rich’ design.

Lapis lazuli is often set in silver for rings, pendants and bracelets, blended with turquoise, coral, spiny oyster and sugilite in the Native American jewelry palette. Lapis is a natural mate for pyrite, in a gold-ish metallic color.

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