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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Star of Asia

Photograph of the Star of Asia sapphire (NMNH G3688) against a red backdrop
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G3688-00
Locality Myanmar [Burma]
Weight 330 ct

Obtained in an exchange in 1961.

Renowned for its impressive size, intense color and sharp star, the Star of Asia, which weighs 330ct, is one of the world’s finest star sapphires. Sapphires and rubies are gem varieties of the mineral corundum. The star forms when titanium atoms are trapped within the growing corundum crystal. As the crystal cools, the titanium forms needlelike crystals of the mineral rutile, which orient themselves in three directions. When properly cut, light reflecting off the three sets of needles produces the six-rayed star. This phenomenon is called asterism. The Star of Asia is from Sri Lanka and is said to have belonged to India’s Maharajah of Jodhpur.



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