Star of Asia
The Star of Asia is one of the largest star sapphires in the world. The star sapphire weighs 330 carats and it has intense colour and sharp star. The star forms when titanium atoms are trapped within the growing corundum crystal. As the crystal cools, the titanium forms needle like crystals of the mineral rutile, which orient themselves in three directions. When the stone is cut properly, light reflecting off the three sets of needles produces the six-rayed star.
The Star of Asia is from Burma. It is believed to belong to India’s Maharajah of Jodhphur. This is not surprising, because the main producing and consuming nations of gemstones and diamonds during the period of the discovery of rubies in Mogok, were the different kingdoms and sultanates of the Indian sub-continent.
It is not precisely known during which period in the history of Jodhpur that the “Star of Asia Sapphire” became the property of the Maharajah of Jodhpur. But it is known for certain that the renowned sapphire had changed hands and eventually came into the possession of Martin Leo Ehrmann, who was the greatest collector and supplier of minerals and gemstones the world had ever known.
The reason why the Star of Asia appears violet-blue as opposed to blue is because of a special element called vanadium which adds a violet effect.
The Star of Asia was cut perfectly as the star is perfectly aligned to the centre. The master cutter who cut this stone must have been an experienced cutter who has cut many star sapphires in his lifetime.
The greatest difficulty in cutting a star sapphire is to decide on the exact side of the rough stone; where the dome-shaped face of the cabochon should be located. This is required in order to bring out the maximum asterism. A slight mistake might result in a failed star, a star displaced to the side, or a star with some of the rays missing. Credit should also be given to a cutter who would look at a rough stone, and predict correctly that it has the potential of being transformed into a superb six-rayed star sapphire, which only a few people in the trade are able to do. Thus the potential value of a star sapphire seems to depend entirely on the skills of the master cutter.