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What is the September Birthstone?

by Alexandra Wolf
Last updated on October 9, 2023

The birthstone for September is sapphire. The word sapphire evokes images of deep, traditional blue. “Sapphire” comes from the Greek word for blue, sappheiros, after all! It is one of the most popular engagement gemstones today, and is cherished all around the world. The most valuable sapphires come from Myanmar, Kashmir, and Sri Lanka. Sapphires with a highly-saturated, deep blue color and a velvety transparency are more rare. However, darker blue hues appeal to many as well. Although the term sapphire usually refers to the blue variety of corundum (ruby is the red variety), this birthstone comes in a rainbow of other colors — they also come in pink, yellow, orange, and peach. The most sought-after color of non-blue sapphire is the rare and beautiful Padparadscha: a pink-orange corundum with a distinctive salmon color reminiscent of a tropical sunset. These ultra-rare, ultra-expensive stones are among the most coveted gems in the world. Brilliant sapphires of all colors have always been highly valued, as they are one of the cardinal gems. The best-known sapphires include the Rockefeller Sapphire, a 62 carat step-cut stone that was unearthed in Myanmar. It was acquired in 1934 by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. from an Indian maharaja and was remounted over the years. The sapphire was first set as a brooch, and later as a ring featuring two triangular diamond side stones. The most famous sapphire in recent years is the 12 carat blue stone surrounded by diamonds in the sapphire engagement ring first worn by Princess Diana, and then given by her son to Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge.

What does the September birthstone represent?

In addition to being the birthstone of September, sapphire is traditionally given for the 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries, and some couples even use it as their engagement or wedding ring — queue Princess Di and Kate Middleton! The September birthstone has traditionally symbolized sincerity, the promise of honesty and truth, and loyalty. Blue sapphires have also represented nobility: since ancient times, the gem has adorned royalty and the robes of the clergy. In the Middle Ages, clerics wore sapphires because they symbolized Heaven and the soul, while the elite of ancient Greece and Rome believed that blue sapphires protected their owners from harm and envy. Ancient Persians believed the earth actually rested on a giant sapphire, which made the sky blue. The September birthstone was reputed to have healing powers as well. Medieval Europeans believed that sapphire cured plague boils and was an antidote to poison. 

Lab-grown Sapphire

Lab-grown sapphires are mined gem alternatives, created under controlled and monitored conditions with cutting-edge technology. The process is started with a “seed” given by a natural sapphire and creates a stone with the same chemical, physical, and optical characteristics as a mined gem. They have the impurities and the same range of cut, clarity, color, and carat weight that you’d find among mined gems. Some other famous laboratory gemstones are rubies and emeralds.

Diamond vs. Sapphire

Mined DiamondsLab-Grown DiamondsSapphire
Made from CarbonMade from CarbonMade from Corundum
Mohs Hardness Level = 10Mohs Hardness Level = 10Mohs Hardness Level = 9
Refractive Index = 2.42Refractive Index = 2.42Refractive Index = 1.76-1.77

Which Should I Buy?

Trying to decide between gems or jewelry for yourself or a loved one? Here are the pros and cons for both diamonds and sapphires!

The Pros of Lab-Grown Diamonds:

The Cons of Lab-Grown Diamonds:

The Pros of Sapphire:

  • Colorful, beautiful, and unique, breaking from tradition
  • The September Birthstone, so it could be more significant and sentimental to those who were born in September like Virgos and Libras.
  • Many sapphires are lab-grown these days, which makes them ethically sourced!
  • Can be less expensive than diamonds, depending on the four C’s

The Cons of Sapphire:

  • Not as traditional or sought after as diamonds
  • Softer than diamonds, therefore it’s easier to scratch or break them