Star Sapphire Gemstone Information
About Star Sapphire - History and Introduction
Star sapphire is rare variety of sapphire that exhibits a rare asterism under specific lighting. When viewing star sapphire, a six-rayed star will appear to float across the surface of the stone. The effect is best viewed under a direct light source and while tilting and rotating the stone from different angles. Star sapphires contain unusual tiny needle-like inclusions of rutile (or hematite, in the case of black star sapphires). Aligned needles that intersect each other at varying angles produce the rare phenomenon known as asterism. Star sapphires can range in color from blue in various tones to pink, orange, yellow, green, lavender, gray or black. The most desirable color is a vivid, intense blue. Most star sapphire exhibits a white star, but star sapphire from Thailand is famed for its gold colored asterism.
Sapphire is a member of the corundum family and is closely related to ruby; the red to pink-red gem-quality variety of corundum. All corundum has a hardness rating of 9, making it the second hardest material on earth, second only to diamond. The name 'corundum' comes from the Sanskrit word 'kuruvindam', meaning 'ruby sapphire', while the term 'sapphire' is derived from the Persian word 'safir', which originates from the Greek word for 'blue'.
Identifying Star Sapphire Back to Top
Star sapphire can be distinguished from other forms of sapphire by its unique asterism. The six-rayed-star effect appears most clearly under natural light, but it can also be viewed using a strong source of direct light such as a penlight or a halogen bulb. It has no distinct cleavage and has a hardness rating of 9 on the Mohs scale. Chemically, star sapphire is an aluminum oxide and forms as trigonal crystals. Owing to star sapphire's superior hardness and durability, it's nearly unmistakable, despite several other gem types that are known to occur with similar colors and luster. Some commonly confused gems include star garnet and star diopside.
Star Sapphire; Origin and Sources Back to Top
The most important deposits of fine star sapphire today are found in Australia, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka and Thailand. Other significant star sapphire sources include Brazil, Cambodia, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, United States (Montana), Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
Buying Star Sapphire and Determining Star Sapphire Value Back to Top
Star Sapphire Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Star Sapphire: Related or Similar Gemstones Back to Top
Star sapphire is a sub-variety of traditional and fancy sapphire. It is a member of the corundum family, which also includes rare red ruby. Sapphire is often marketed using specific varietal trade names based on its color, origin or various other discernible traits. Some examples of varietal trade names include color change sapphire, Ceylon sapphire or Padparadscha sapphire. Since sapphire can occur in a variety of colors, it can be easily confused with other gemstones like garnet, spinel, topaz, tourmaline and zircon.
Star Sapphire Mythology, Metaphysical and Crystal Healing Properties Back to Top
Sapphire is the birthstone for those who are born in September. On the zodiac chart, it is viewed as the stone for Taurus.
The ancients regarded star sapphires as powerful talismans for protecting travelers and seekers. They were considered to be so powerful that they would continue to protect the wearer even after being passed on to another person.
Abbes Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) chronicled the healing powers of gemstones in her book "Physica". According to her view, gemstones are formed through the powerful combination of water and fire; therefore they hold powers corresponding to these phenomena. She also believed that each stone had a certain, divine blessing from God. What she said about sapphire is: "Who is dull and would like to be clever, should, in a sober state, frequently lick with the tongue on a sapphire, because the gemstone's warmth and power, combined with the saliva's moisture, will expel the harmful juices that affect the intellect. Thus, the man will attain a good intellect."
Star Sapphire Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
In ancient times, star sapphire was regarded as a powerful talisman guiding travelers and seekers of all kinds. Star sapphire is one of the most durable materials and can be worn daily in just about any gemstone jewelry application including daily-wear rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, pendants, pins and brooches. Star sapphire is ideal for jewelry that is exposed to direct light, such as cabochon rings. When worn as earrings, star sapphire gems may not receive enough direct light for their six-rayed stars to show. Star sapphire is rarely available in large sizes, so most jewelry will feature small stones only. Some black star sapphires can be found in large sizes and these are perfect for oversized rings and pendants. Black and blue star sapphire gemstones are very popular for men's jewelry.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.
Famous Star Sapphire Gemstones Back to Top
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. displays a star sapphire of more than fifty carats that was found in Sri Lanka. The mega-star of its impressive gem collection is the "Star of Asia", a star sapphire of 330 carats.
Actress Mary Pickford loved very large rubies and star sapphires. She owned both the 60-carat Star of Bombay and the 200-carat Star of India, and often wore them both at the same time.
Star Sapphire Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Star sapphire is typically very durable and considered to be one of the hardest materials on earth. It is slightly softer than diamond, but it lacks cleavage which makes it quite resistant to damage. Fracture-filled star sapphire is not as durable as untreated star sapphire. It is not advisable to recut or repolish any star sapphire that has been fracture-filled. Even beryllium diffused sapphire may require care depending on how well the gem was diffused. Star sapphire can be brittle, so care should be taken if recutting and during setting. For cleaning, it is best to use warm soapy water and a soft cloth. As with most gemstones, avoid ultrasonic cleaners and steamers, especially with fracture-filled star sapphire; vibrations and heat can damage stones.
Always remove any jewelry or gemstones before exercising, cleaning or engaging in harsh physical activities. Do not expose star sapphire gemstones to acid and store them away from other gemstones to avoid scratches. It is best to wrap gemstones in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box.
- First Published: May-09-2007
- Last Updated: March-20-2017
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