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Sapphire is the birthstone for September and the gem of the 5th and 45th anniversaries. Sapphires come from a variety of sources including Madagascar, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Australia.
The name “sapphire” can apply to any corundum that’s not ruby red, a "ruby" is a sapphire that is ruby red in color. Sapphires come in many colors: violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and can even be gray, black, or brown. Colorless corundum is rare, most of it contains trace elements that cause color. When the trace elements are iron and titanium, the corundum is blue sapphire. A very small amount of iron and titanium can cause the color, and the more iron there is, the darker the blue. A special orangy pink sapphire color is called padparadscha. Some stones exhibit color change, most often going from blue in daylight or fluorescent lighting to purple under incandescent light. Some stones can show a phenomenon called asterism, which appears as a six-ray star pattern across a cabochon-cut stone. The star effect can be seen any color of sapphire and ruby.
There are several ways of treating sapphire. Heat-treatment is commonly used to improve the color, however, heat treatment combined with the addition of certain specific impurities is also commonly performed, and this process can be known as "diffusion". Evidence of sapphires being subjected to heating goes back at least to Roman times. Un-heated natural stones are somewhat rare and will often be sold accompanied by a certificate from a gemological laboratory attesting to "no evidence of heat treatment". According to United States Federal Trade Commission guidelines, disclosure is required of any mode of enhancement that has a significant effect on the gem's value.
There are many references to sapphires in the Old Testament, but most scholars agree that, since sapphire was not known before the Roman Empire, they most likely are references to lapis lazuli. During the Middle Ages, the clergy wore blue sapphires to symbolize Heaven, and ordinary folks thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings.
In 1862, a sapphire weighing 260.37 carats was purchased by Russian Emperor Alexander II and presented to his wife. Today, it is in the Russian Diamond Fund, where it is proudly shown in Russia.