From our earliest days, we’ve been mesmerized by the sapphire—birthstone for the month of September. It is amongst the hardest of gemstones and amongst the most-expensive, as well. And, some might argue, sapphires are the most beautiful.
Sapphires belong to the corundum family which includes rubies. In fact, sapphires and rubies are often found in the same areas, though one of the stones will predominate. Sapphires are found and mined in Africa, Russia, Australia, and parts of Asia (most notably, India). In the United States, sapphires are found in Montana.
While sapphires can be found in many colors—purples, violets, greens, yellows, grays, oranges, and reds (which are called “rubies”)—the classic color is a deep, mid-range blue. Secondary “highlight” colors are sometimes present, like purple (which can make the stone more valuable) or green (which can decrease its value). Some sapphires even change their colors as they are moved from one light source to another.
Perhaps the most mysterious of the sapphires is the so-called “Star Sapphire” which displays a six (or sometimes twelve) rayed “star” floating within the body of the stone. These stones show such a star due to a certain peculiarity of the mineral structure and they are cut en cabochon (that is, with a rounded, not faceted surface) to allow the star to display itself unimpeded by faceting.
Alas, the shirt studs pictured above are glass sapphires. Made in the 1920’s, they will nevertheless bring a great deal of style to your crisply-starched shirtfront.