Beautiful blue sapphire has been popular since the Middle Ages. Medieval clergy wore sapphires to symbolize heaven, while commoners thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings. Sapphires are typically blue stones, ranging from very pale blue to deep indigo due to the presence of small amounts of titanium and iron within the crystal structure. The most valued shade of blue is the medium-deep cornflower blue. A variety of the mineral corundum, most people associate blue with sapphire but corundum occurs in numerous natural colours and tints – colourless, grey, yellow, pale pink, orange, green, violet and brown. These are called fancy sapphires. The different colours are caused by different kinds of impurities within the crystal, for example, yellow sapphires get their colour from ferric iron. Red corunmdum is, of course, ruby.
"A maiden born when autumn leaves
Are rustling in September's breeze,
A sapphire on her brow should bind;
To bring her joy and peace of mind."
The word sapphire has its roots in several ancient languages: the Arabic ‘safir’, the Latin ‘sapphirus’ meaning “blue” and the Greek word ‘sappheiros’ for the island of Sappherine in the Arabian Seam where sapphires were found in ancient Grecian times. Ancient Persians called sapphire the Celestial Stone. It was the gem of Apollo, Greek god of prophesy and was worn by his worshippers.
The sapphire was said to represent the purity of the soul. Priests before and during the Middle Ages would wear sapphires as protection from impure thoughts and temptations of the flesh.
Medieval royalty wore sapphire in rings and brooches, believing that it protected them from harm and envy. Warriors would give their young wives sapphire necklaces so they would remain faithful - the stone’s colour was said to darken if worn by an adulterer or adulteress, or by an unworthy person. The French of the 13th century believed that sapphire transformed stupidity to wisdom, and irritability to good temper.