Blue sapphire has been a symbol of nobility and faithfulness for centuries. Traditionally worn by clergy and royalty, sapphire continues to hold its place as one of the “Big Three” gemstones today (with emerald and ruby being the other two).
Well-known financier and philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960) was also a fan of September’s sapphire birthstone, as you will learn below. Those with September birthdays will be happy to see the stunning piece featured this month – the Rockefeller Sapphire.
The Rockefeller Sapphire’s origin can be traced back to Burma (modern-day Myanmar), where many of the finest-quality rubies and sapphires have been mined. Rockefeller purchased this particular stone in 1934 from an Indian Maharajah.
The famous 62.02 ct Rockefeller Sapphire is a rectangular step cut stone, similar to the famous March birthstone, the Roosevelt Aquamarine. It is mounted in a platinum ring with two cut-cornered triangular brilliant cut diamond side stones. The combination of size and quality of the sapphire is an indication of its rarity.
In the 1940s, Rockefeller’s first wife, Abby Aldrich (1874-1948), had Pierre Cartier recut and mount the approximately 66 ct sapphire in a brooch. After Abby’s death, Rockefeller married Martha Baird in 1951 and she asked jeweler Raymond Yard to redesign the brooch and fashion it into the ring in which the sapphire is set today. At that time, the Rockefeller Sapphire was recut again to its current size of 62.02 ct.
After Mrs. Rockefeller died in 1971, the ring went up for auction in Zurich and it sold for $170,000. It was resold a few more times before its appearance at Christie’s New York in April 2001 – this time selling for $3 million.
In ancient times, sapphire was believed to be a pledge of loyalty. It may remind some of the phrase, “true blue,” meant to indicate a person is trustworthy and dependable. Sapphire’s intense, velvety blue shade is called Kashmir – named for the region along the Pakistan/India border where the gem is mined. September’s sapphire birthstone comes in a variety of colors including violet, green, yellow, orange, pink and purple. Still, blue sapphire remains the most popular hue and a favorite among jewelry shoppers.
September’s sapphire birthstone is not just for those celebrating a birthday or a 5th wedding anniversary. Colored gemstone engagement rings have been growing in popularity – the most noteworthy is the blue sapphire engagement ring which belongs to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (formerly Kate Middleton). This is one of many Serious Bling celebrity engagement rings more recently seen on famous Hollywood stars. Could you imagine the Rockefeller Sapphire as your engagement ring?
If you’re in the market for sapphire jewelry or an engagement ring, consult GIA’s Sapphire Buying Guide for more information on this “Big Three” gemstone.