September's Birthstones – Sapphire and Moonstone
The month of September has two lovely birthstones: the modern birthstone for September is the luscious sapphire, one of the 'Big 4" gemstones, and the traditional birthstone for September is the mystical moonstone. Find out what September's birthstones can mean for you.
What is a sapphire?
A sapphire is a gemstone quality variant of the mineral corundum. While sapphires are typically thought of as blue, the corundum mineral comes in other colours too, which are known as the fancy sapphires. Fancy sapphires can be yellow sapphire, pink sapphire, green sapphire etc., but never red. Red sapphires are known as rubies! The ruby was once thought to be distinctly separate gemstone, but modern techniques have proven it to be the red variant of corundum – in other words, sapphire!
Sapphires often have needle-like inclusions called rutile, decreasing the transparency of the gem. The most valuable sapphires are the ones with the least inclusions, except for when those inclusions form a star-like pattern called asterism. Asterism will most often present as a six-pointed star, though some sapphires have been found with 12-pointed stars. Sapphires with asterism are usually polished en cabochon to display the star, whereas transparent sapphires are cut to show their sparkle.
Sapphires are very durable gemstones and ideal for jewellery use, but many of the sapphires in high street jewellery stores are synthetically created. Lab sapphires have been in production since 1902 and they're so good it takes a professional eye to spot the difference, though the huge difference in price will be a clue! Natural translucent sapphires are usually under 2 carats in size, but in 2012 a rare star sapphire was found in Sri Lanka weighing a massive 1404 carats! The huge gemstone was valued at $300million US.
Tiffany & Co.'s Gregorian Birthstone Poem, published in 1870, has this to say about September's sapphire birthstone ...
A maiden born when September leaves
Are rustling in September’s breeze,
A sapphire on her brow should bind`
Twill cure diseases of the mind.
The name Sapphire is from the Latin "Sapphirus" and the Greek "Sapheiros", both of which simply mean blue.
What is moonstone?
Moonstone is one of the most famous and legendary gemstones. It's a form of the abundant mineral feldspar occurring in shades of ethereal white, blue, and even pale peach and yellow tones – just like the moon in all its phases. The rarest form, and the one possessed of the most mystical properties, is a clear stone with a blue shimmer that seems to be both inside and outside the stone at the same time, like a moon glow. This strange property is known as adularescence. Moonstone is also one of the birthstones for June, and there are many myths and legends attached to its uses. Whilst most moonstones are cut and polished en cabochon, they are also soft enough to carve. There have been many examples of skilled lapidaries carving faces into moonstone to represent the Man in the Moon, and other simple symbols that were popular in the art nouveau and art deco fashion eras of the late 1890s to 1930s. Moonstones are typically around 2 carats in size, with specimens up to 20 carats fairly common, but in 1918 a moonstone was found near Mount Kilimanjaro that reportedly weighs between 300 and 450 carats - the largest ever found!
What does sapphire symbolise?
Sapphire symbolises integrity and loyalty. It's the perfect gemstone for partnerships. It also symbolises the sky and heavens for its blue colour, and is believed to bring joy to the wearer and promote chastity.
What does moonstone symbolise?
The moonstone is a symbol of hope and renewal and the gemstone of motherhood. As a symbol of serenity, it's a beautiful gemstone to give to a new mother.
Sapphire healing powers*
Sapphires are a soothing stone that can calm the mind and improve temperament. An aid to counteract depression, sapphires were also believed to relieve fevers and, when ground to a powder and blended with vinegar, stop bleeding when poured onto wounds. Ouch!
Sapphires can help their wearers with thyroid issues, rheumatism and degenerative diseases.
Moonstone healing powers*
Because of its association with night and the soothing effects of the moon. moonstone can aid restful sleep and alleviate nightmares. As a stone of motherhood, moonstone can regulate your menstrual cycle and ease the discomfort of menopause.
*NOTE: Any medical 'advice' contained in these articles is not to be taken as proven. It is merely based on historic superstition and belief. If you are suffering any worrying symptoms, please seek the help of your doctor or trained medical professional before seeking the help of a gemstone!
Sapphire superstitions and beliefs
If you fear the effects of witchcraft, wear a star sapphire for protection. The sapphire has been renowned since ancient times for its powerful protection against evil and harm. Sapphires are also a great snake repellent and powdered sapphire an anecdote to their poison. If you have a six-pointed star sapphire, the three intersecting lines are thought to represent faith, hope and destiny.
If you have legal dealings or contracts to sign, wear a sapphire to ensure integrity and honesty from the people you deal with.
Moonstone superstitions and beliefs
The moonstone can spark passion between lovers and promote fertility, especially if worn during a full moon. This fertility also works for plants too! Plant a moonstone in your garden or veggie patch during a full moon to ensure a good harvest.
Many civilisations have held beliefs that moonstones hold spirits. Ancient Romans believed that the image of Diana the Hunter, goddess of the moon, was hidden in every moonstone. In India there is a similar belief, with Indians traditionally believing that a lucky spirit lives within every moonstone, bringing good fortune to whoever possesses it. Could this be the Man in the Moon?
Wearing moonstone can enhance your intuition and holding a moonstone in your mouth during a full moon can help you divine the future.
Moonstone was considered to be solidified beams of moonlight in many ancient cultures.
Sapphire in history
Ancient Greeks would wear a sapphire when consulting the Oracle at Delphi as the sapphire helped promote clarity of thought and understanding.
The wisdom of King Solomon is said to have come from the sapphire ring that he wore, and with which he would stamp his seal into official documents.
In the middle ages the tradition of the Pope giving sapphire ecclesiastical rings to bishops and cardinals began. Sapphires were thought to be a link to Heaven and promoted the purity of thought required by those in a religious profession.
As a symbol of love and loyalty, sapphires have long been popular in engagement rings. The success of de Beer's advertising campaign "A Diamond Is Forever" in the 1930s saw coloured gems wane in popularity, but Prince Charles presented Lady Diana with a huge sapphire engagement ring for their 1980 betrothal, which royal watchers everywhere chose to copy. The same ring was given to Kate by Prince William, and Princess Eugenie, daughter of the Prince Andrew, chose a rare salmon-pink padparadscha sapphire ring for her 2018 engagement to James Brooksbank.
Moonstone in history
The moonstone has been used in jewellery and amulets for many thousands of years. It's moonlike luminescence gives weight to ancient superstitions of mystical properties.
Around the turn of the 20th century, moonstone saw a surge in popularity for jewellery use when renowned jeweller René Lalique used moonstone in his jewellery.
In the early 1970s, the moonstone was adopted as the state gemstone for Florida in honour of the Kennedy Space Centre, NASA, and the moon landings.
Were you born in September? People born in September are self-critical perfectionists with a strong eye for detail. They make great doctors, engineers and accountants but their quest for perfection can make them seem hard to deal with, however, inside every September born person lies a sensitive soul who just wants to do right by everyone. The September child is intelligent and fun loving, quick-witted, and frequently the life and soul of every party.
Does that sound like you?
Sapphire Episcopal Ring by Ealdgyth [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Lalique Thistle Pendant By Yelkrokoyade [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Next week: "Gemology: S is for..."