Sapphires have been considered as great gemstones since 800BC. The Romans were the first to use engagement rings to show the honorable intentions of the groom. The tradition of engagement rings as we currently know it began in 1215, when Pope Innocent III instituted a mandatory period of ''engagement''. During this same period, it was said that a sapphire's color would change or fade if an impure or untruthful person worn it. The fidelity of the wives of the Crusades is said to have been tested with sapphires when their husbands returned from their campaigns.
Engagement rings became popular in the 14th or 15th century amongst royal and wealthy families. Sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds were all used in these early engagement rings. Symbolizing romantic love, truth and commitment sapphires were favorite choice.
The link between sapphires and fidelity was promoted by an 18th century Mme de Jenlis' fable ''Le Sapphire Merveiellence''. A color-change sapphire inspired the author, and this story created a new demand for sapphires among affianced couples. This tradition continues today.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, diamonds prices declined when diamonds from Brazil and Africa flooded the market. This made sapphires, rubies, and emeralds more valuable and rare than diamonds. As a result, engagement rings with colored gemstones were more desirable. Many people choose alternatives to a diamond for their engagement ring. A sapphire is no longer considered as untraditional and strange alternative to diamond engagement ring.
The one who was the first to choose a sapphire as an alternative to a diamond engagement ring is unknown, but it is known who was the most significant in the modern time. Leslie Field states in her book, The Queen's Jewels: The Personal Collection of Queen Elizabeth II, that the Royal family has a long history of giving sapphire for engagement rings. The latest being Prince Charles who gave Lady Diana Spencer a large oval sapphire engagement ring. While Rubies are considered King of stones, Sapphires are said to be stones of Kings.
Sapphire can be found in many colors, including blue or Royal Blue. The color of best Sapphires is referred to as Kashmir; which is also known as cornflower blue. Blue is a popular color choice for a sapphire engagement ring while pink, purple and yellow hues are also high sought after.
The sapphire is the birthstone for those born in the month of September. The name sapphire comes from the Latin word ''saphirus'' and the Greek word '"sapheiros'', both meaning blue.