Sapphire is the birthstone for September. — The Sapphire is a transparent stone, of a sky-color, precious and very delightful to the eye. The herb Pilosella (also known as Mouse-ear hawkweed) in its flower, and the herb Scorpioides in its flower, have some resemblance of its beauty.
Hieronymus Cardanus makes Sapphire to be the fifth in order of the most noble gems, in his book «De subtilitate» (Basel, 1547); where he likewise said, that it is a stone of an excellent hardness of a ceruleus color and if not diluted or vicious, very pleasing to the eye, in so much as he said, that nothing doth so much recreate the sight as the Smaragde (Emerald) and Sapphire.
OF ITS NAME
The Sapphire is known almost to all nations by this one name «Sapphirus». In hebrew it is called «ספיר», as Exod. 28.18. and not only in Hebrew but in Greek «ζαφείρι», and in Latine it is called «Sapphirus»; in English «Saphire» (XVII c.) and in German «ein Saphir»; in Itatian «Zaffiro»; in French «Sapphyr»; in Spanish «el Zafiro piedra preciosa»; in Hindu language «नीलम» and Arabic «ياقوت أزرق» – «Nilas» and from the place where it growth «Podis», Marbodeus Gallus doth call it «Syrtites».
Sapphire is also the birthstone for Virgo
OF ITS FACULTIES & PROPERTIES
The Sapphire is of a cold and dry faculty even as are most precious stones; it is reported of it, that it is good against feverish distempers, hence this old dipstick.
The best of Sapphires are very comfortable to the eyes, if they be often looked one. It is reported of it, that if it be worn by an adulterer, by loosing its splendor it will discover his adultery; and that the wearing of Sapphire, does hinder the erections that are caused by Venus. But surely, as either lustful thoughts, or this wicked spirit Asmodeus moving them, or stirring up such disorders and irregularities without them, in the body, are the causes of such undue erections of the flesh; so when he withdraws himself, Sapphire has power to hinder them, and not before.
Many have written of the faculties of Sapphire as Galen, Pedanius Dioscorides, Hieronymus Cardanus, Garcias de Cisneros, and Maer the Poet (Aemilius Macer).
It is reported of it, that Sapphire is of so contrary a nature to poisons, that if it be put into a glass with a Spider, or laid upon the mouth of the glass, where the Spider is, the Spider will quickly die. And that Sapphire kept men chaste, and therefore is worn of Priests.
Anselmus Boetius said, that S. Jerome affirmed in his exposition of the 19 chapter of Isaiah, that the Sapphire being worn of any man, procured him favor with Princes, and with all men, pacified his enemies, free him from enchantments, and from bonds, and imprisonments, and that it looses men out of prison, and affwageth the wrath of God (Anselmus Boëtius de Boodt, p.49.).
OF ITS DIGNITY
For its sacred use Sapphire has been esteemed of great worth, as Exod. 28.18. And for its superstitions, the this caution use it with much circumspection.
Among the ancients, and with the Heathen, Sapphire has been of very great authority, because they sought it didn’t a little prevail with God.
The Gentiles consecrated Sapphire to Apollo, because in their enquiries at his oracle, if they had the presence of this gem with them, they imagined they had their answer the sooner.
It is desired of many for its excellent beauty; for it is fair like unto a serene sky: No better a description of its excellent beauty can you find, then that which is given of it, Exodus 24.9, 10. Where it is spoken after the manner of men (not as if the children of Israel saw any appearance of God in the form of man) That the children if Israel saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet, as it were a paved work of Sapphire, and as it were the body of haven in its clearness.
Sapphire through its blue color was the emblem of heaven, the firmament, truth, constancy, and fidelity. The Jewish priests wore robes and breast-plates of this color as significative of heaven.
The Hebrew Rabbis declare this to be the stone of which the rod of Moses and the Tables of the Law received on Mount Sinai were composed.
SAPPHIRE AS A MINERAL
The Oriental Sapphire, ranks the next in value to the Ruby; when perfect, its color is a clear and bright Prussian blue, united to a high degree of transparency. It seldom, however, occurs in this state, more generally the color is a pale blue,passing by degrees, into entirely colorless; not unfrequently, the pale varieties are further deteriorated by streaks and spots of a dark inky blue.
It occurs in rounded pieces, and, rarely, in crystals.of a small size, but for the most part, considerably larger than the Ruby. The primitive crystal of this substance, like that of the preceding gem, is a slightly acute rhomboid, the alternate angles of which measure 86° 38′ and 93° 22′: it also presents nearly the same varieties and modifications of its primitive form. When broken, it displays a conchoidal fracture, seldom exhibiting any appearance of a lamellar structure; in hardness it surpasses the ruby, and yields only to the Diamond. Its specific gravity varies from 4 to 4.1.
The pale, varieties when exposed to a strong fire become entirely colorless without undergoing any other alteration; after this, when cut and polished, they have been often sold for Diamonds; on, this, (some-what fraudulent) account, they bear a considerable value.
Another remarkable variety of Sapphire is the Asterias or Star-stone. This is a semi-transparent Sapphire, often with a reddish purple tinge, in which the summits of the primitive rhomboid are replaced by secondary planes that present a varying chatoyant luster.
The Sapphire in hardness comes next to the Diamond. It is one of the varieties of that vast genus the silex. Its chemical composition is pure alumina crystallized. The color most commonly understood to attach to the Sapphire is blue, and therefore the poets are wont to sing of Sapphire skies. It is also found occasionally gray, white, green and yellow.
In shape Sapphire is usually rhomboidal. Hauy names it the «telesie», and Bournon the «perfect corundum». Being silicious in its nature Sapphire approaches in its hardness close upon the Diamond, while, ill its blue species, it is very beautiful. The deep-blue Sapphire is named by the lapidaries the «male», and the pale-blue the «female».
It is acted upon by neither the acids nor the blowpipe. Sapphire is found mostly in the bells of rivers, especially in Ceylon and in the southern part of the Burman Empire.
OF ITS VALUE
Sapphire is valued according to the excellency of its color, beauty, purity, and greatness: on of the weight of four grains is worth many crowns. The best of Sapphires are as much worth as a Diamond of the same bigness.
Fine specimens bring high prices. The late Mr. Hope purchased one from the Parisian Jardin des Plantes, paying therefor the considerable sum of £3,000.
The French crown contains 59 of Sapphires.
A Sapphire weighing seventy-five and a half carats was sold, says D’r Feuchtwanger, at the auction of Messrs. Rundell & Bridges, for $2,405 (XIX c.).