Star of India (gem)

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This article is about the gem known as "Star of India". For other items of the same name, see Star of India (disambiguation).
"Star of India"

The Star of India is a 563.35-carat (112.67 g) star sapphire, one of the largest such gems in the world.[1][a] It is almost flawless and is unusual in that it has stars on both sides of the stone. The greyish blue gem was mined in Sri Lanka[3] and is housed in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

The milky quality of the stone is caused by the traces of the mineral rutile, which is also responsible for the star effect, known as asterism. The tiny fibers of the mineral, aligned in a three-fold pattern within the gem, reflect incoming light into the star pattern.[1]


In 1901, wealthy financier J.P. Morgan donated the Star of India, along with the also almost flawless smaller black and purple gem 116.75 carat Midnight Star to the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West in Manhattan. On October 29, 1964, the famous golf-ball-sized stone was stolen, along with several other gems of note, including the Midnight Star, the DeLong Star Ruby, and the Eagle Diamond.[3] The thieves unlocked a bathroom window during museum open hours, climbed in that night, and found that the sapphire was the only gem in the collection protected by an alarm—and the battery for that was dead.[4] They raked up the stones and fled the same way they came in. The stones were valued at more than $400,000. Within two days, the notorious cat burglar, smuggler, and one-time surfing champion, Jack Murphy (also known as "Murph the Surf"), was arrested along with two accomplices, Allen Kuhn and Roger Clark. Murphy, Kuhn, and Clark later received a three-year sentence in jail along with parole. Some months later, the uninsured Star of India was recovered in a locker in a Miami bus station.[5] Although the Star of India, Midnight Star, and the DeLong Star Ruby were all found, the whereabouts of the Eagle Diamond remain unknown.


  1. ^ The Black Star of Queensland is believed to be the largest star sapphire at 733 carats.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Star of India". American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Kim, Victoria (January 5, 2010). "For some, a sapphire has not been their best friend". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Preston, Douglas J. (1986). Dinosaurs in the Attic. St. Martin's Press. pp. 210–218. ISBN 0-312-21098-1. 
  4. ^ Sofianides, Anna S.; George E. Harlow (1990). Gems and Crystals from the American Museum of Natural History. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-68704-2. 
  5. ^ Sosin, Milt (January 8, 1965). "Star of India Found in Miami Bus Depot". The Miami News. Retrieved 24 October 2012.