Star of India (gem)

Star of India (gem)
Star of India is a world-famous blue star sapphire originating from Sri Lanka. . 

It is a light-blue gray stone of 563 carats [(112.6 g) Grande & Augustyn, 2009; Hagan, 2018]. The milky quality and star effect of the stone are due to the effect of rutile mineral that presenting in the gem. Tiny rutile fibers in a three-fold pattern can reflect incoming light as a star and this effect is called asterism. The stone has stars on the both sides which is extremely rare for this size of sapphire.

Originated in the Earth 2 billions years ago the gem is said to have been mined in Sri Lanka in the 16th century. It was given to the museum in 1900 by J.P. Morgan, an American financier and banker. Presently, it is housed in the American Natural History Museum, New York City (Grande & Augustyn, 2009).

On 29 October 1964, the stone several other gems were stolen from the museum by Jack Murphy (alias Murph the Surf) and two other men (Hagan, 2018). It was recovered from a locker in Miami bus terminal and handed over to the museum within two days (Murphy, 1985). Thieves were also arrested (Murphy, 1985).  

Sri Lanka is famous for its gemstones since ancient times. However, this stone has been given a name that does not relate to Sri Lanka, the country of origin. 


1) Grande, L. and Augustyn, A., 2009. Gems and gemstones: timeless natural beauty of the mineral world. University of Chicago Press. p.63.
2) Hagan, F.E. and Daigle, L.E., 2018. Introduction to criminology: Theories, methods, and criminal behavior. Sage Publications. p.267.
3) Murphy, E., 1985. Murph the Surf. Spin. Vol. 1, No. 3. pp.50-51.

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This page was last updated on 23 January 2021
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