Hemswell Antique Centres

How can we help?

Spotlight on antique birthstones – Sapphire September birthstone

Spotlight on antique birthstones – Sapphire September birthstone


In the first of our new, monthly series on antique birthstones, we focus on the sapphire, the birthstone for September.

What is a sapphire?

The sapphire is a popular precious gemstone considered to be one of the ‘big three’ coloured gemstone, the other two being emeralds and rubies.

What colour are sapphires?

Although many people think of sapphires as being blue (and the majority of them are), sapphires do occur in other colours. Blue stones are referred to simply as sapphires, while other colours are referred to as ‘fancy coloured’ and are called after their colour. Hence you can get purple sapphires, green sapphires, as well as pink, orange, yellow and even black.

Where do sapphires come from?

Sapphires are mined all over the world with many mines being located in Asia (Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Kashmir region of India), as well as Australia and Africa.

What is the meaning of sapphires as a birthstone?

Derived from the ancient Greek sappheiros and the Latin sapphirus both meaning blue stone, sapphires are traditionally symbolic of truth, fidelity, sincerity and nobility. Ancient, classical civilisations believed them to protect against harm and jealousy, and this may be why they are a popular choice for engagement rings.

Famous sapphires

Perhaps the most famous in recent years was the 12 carat stone in the engagement ring of Lady Diana Spencer, now worn by her daughter-in-law, Kate, the Princess of Wales. The iconic design of the ring has been reproduced and worn by thousands of brides since, and continues to be popular thanks in part to Kate. The Logan Blue Sapphire on display at the Smithsonian Institute weighs an incredible 422.99 carats and is the second largest faceted sapphire in the world.

The world’s most expensive sapphire

The Blue Belle of Asia, a Ceylon sapphire weighing over 392 carats set as a necklace, achieved the highest auction price to date in November 2014. Sold at Christie’s in Geneva, The Blue Belle of Asia achieved a world record breaking hammer price of £11.5 million ($17.5 million)

How to care for sapphires

The durability and strength of precious gemstones is measured on the Mohs Hardness Scale, on which the diamond scores a perfect 10. Sapphires come a close second with a score of 9 making them scratch and fracture resistant. It is important to store sapphires correctly – if allowed to rub against other, softer gemstones sapphires may scratch them. Sapphires should be cleaned in a solution of soap with a soft brush but they will withstand commercial jewellery cleaning products as well as ultrasonic cleaning machines.

Sapphire jewellery from Hemswell Antique Centres

With advances in technology, there are many pieces of reproduction jewellery on the market so it is essential to buy from a reputable auction house or a qualified antiques dealer. At Hemswell, we are home to many specialist antique jewellery dealers which gives you the confidence that you are purchasing a genuine, quality piece of history. From rings to pendants and earrings to brooches, our dealers have sapphires of every colour. Browse our vintage sapphire jewellery online or spend a day with us and view our extensive collection in person.

Back to articles