Star of Asia
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. 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 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 Burma and is said to have belonged to India’s Maharajah of Jodhpur.
The Stuart Sapphire
The early history of the Stuart Sapphire is somewhat obscure, although it most probably belonged to Charles II, and was definitely among the jewels which James II took with him when he fled to France. From him it passed to his son, Charles Edward, the ‘Old Pretender’, who gave it to his son Henry Bentinck, who later became known as Cardinal York. As the Stuart cause was then dead, he left the sapphire with other Stuart relics to King George III. The stone weighs about 104 carats.
The stone was set in Queen Victoria’s State Crown, on the front just below the Black
Prince’s Ruby. A new crown was made in 1937, nearly identical to Queen Victoria’s old one, which had become weak and needed replacing. The stones from the old crown were transfered to the new. The new and present Imperial State Crown features the Cullinan II Diamond on the front, beneath the Black Prince’s Ruby, where the Stuart Sapphire was originally mounted. The sapphire is on the reverse side of the crown.
The Stuart Sapphire has more historical than monetary value. Even though it is a fine blue color, it contains one or two flaws and is drilled at one end, probably so that it could be worn as a pendant, as was common in earlier times. It is oval in shape, about 1½ inches in length by 1 inch in width.
Star of Bombay
The 182-carat Star of Bombay sapphire is from Sri Lanka. It was given to silent film star Mary Pickford by her husband, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and she bequeathed it to the Smithsonian Institute in 1981.
The Rockerfeller Sapphire
The Rockefeller Sapphire is a 62.02-carat internally flawless cornflower blue sapphire. It acquired its name from the one time proprietor, John D. Rockefeller Jr. The only son of John D. Rockefeller Sr. purchased the stone in 1934, from an Indian Maharajah thought to have been the seventh and the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, whose period of rule extended from 1911 to 1948.
Maria Alexandrovna Sapphire Brooch
During the Great London Exhibition of 1862, Russian Emperor Alexander II purchased a sapphire weighing 260.37. The Emperor presented the stone to his wife Empress Maria Alexandrovna. This stone is rare and known for its combination of size, color, clarity and unusual cut. This piece of history now resides in the Russian Diamond Fund.
Queen Marie of Romania’s Sapphire
Among cut sapphires, the largest in the world is known as Queen Marie of Romanias Sapphire, at 478 carats. It combines stunning color with a fascinating history. According to lab reports, it is of Sri Lankan origin and is completely untreated. It was purchased by King Ferdinand of Romania in 1921 for his wife Queen Marie, who was the granddaughter of both Queen Victoria of England and Czar Alexander II of Russia. The sapphire was sold around 1947 and acquired by Harry Winston. The stone is now on permanent display in the Diamond Fund Exhibition, at the Kremlin Armory Museum in Moscow.