Birthstone of those born in the month of September, sapphire is the blue variety of corundum that owes its name to the Latin word “sapphirus”. According to somebody, this word derives from Sanskrit, meaning “dear to Saturn” and Dante himself cites this gem twice in the Divine Comedy. The color of the sapphire can vary from very strongly greenish blue to blue violet and is due to the presence of traces of iron and titanium.
The historical source of the sapphire is found in today’s Sri Lanka, probably in Ratnapura, the “city of gems”, but there are also very important fields in Burma, Madagascar and until 1930, in the area of Kashmir, India. Right in Kashmir were extracted sapphires that are considered the most beautiful in the world, with a fascinating silky appearance and a delicate blue velvet color.
One of most world famous sapphire is the Star of India, a 563.35 carat gem, probably extracted from a mine in Sri Lanka and now preserved in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Its distinctive feature is the phenomenon that the gemologists call “asterism”, a six-pointed star shaped pattern, very bright. This fascinating phenomenon is due to the presence of fine inclusions of rutile, called needles, that are oriented in a regular and neatly way into the stone.