Throughout history, Sri Lanka has been famed for its precious gems which are mined in the southwest of the island in the Ratnapura area. King Solomon was said to have procured a great ruby for the Queen of Sheba from the island of Ceylon and Marco Polo wrote of wonderful Ceylon gems.
The Blue Sapphire is the king of Sri Lankan gems and the most famous is the 400 carat Blue Sapphire called “Blue Belle”, which adorns the British Crown also, the beautiful star sapphire misnamed the “Star of India” (Star of Sri Lanka would be more appropriate), is displayed at the New York Museum of Natural History
Besides rubies and sapphire, the illama soil also bears cat's eyes, alexandrites, aquamarines, tourmalines, spinels, topaz, garnets, amethyst, zircons and variety of other stones. Forty of the eighty five varities of gems found thoughout the world are found in Sri Lanka.
The moonstone is characterised by an enchanting play of light. Indeed it owes its name to that mysterious shimmer which always looks different when the stone is moved this is known as 'adularescence'. In earlier times, people believed they could recognise in it the crescent and waning phases of the moon.
Red is the colour of love and spontaneously associated with vivacity, passion and power; it radiates warmth and a strong sense of vitality. And red is also the colour of the ruby, the king of the gemstones. In the fascinating world of gemstones, the ruby is the undisputed ruler.
Sapphire & Star Sapphires
Concentration of colour is the most important factor for judging the beauty of these stones. The shape of the star must be sharp and in the centre of the stone in order to accentuate the beauty of this unique type of Sapphire.
A star sapphire is a type of sapphire that exhibits a star-like phenomenon known as asterism. Star sapphires contain intersecting needle-like inclusions that cause the appearance of a six-pointed star -shaped pattern when viewed with a single overhead light source. Twelve-pointed stars are also found, but are less common.
The value of a Star Sapphire depends not only on the carat weight of the stone but also the body colour, visibility, and intensity of the star.
The Star of India
At 563 carats The Star of India is the largest and most famous star sapphire in the world. Formed some 2 billion years ago, it was discovered, allegedly more than 300 years ago, in Sri Lanka , where excellent sapphires are still to be found in deposits of sand and gravel left by ancient rivers. Industrialist and financier J. P. Morgan, a founding patron presented the sapphire to the American Museum of Natural History in 1900. Today, the Star of India is one of the most renowned objects in all of the Museum's collections.
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