Black Star of Queensland

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Black Star of Queensland, Star Sapphire
Black Star of Queensland Star Sapphire.jpg
The 733-carat Black Star of Queensland
Category Oxide mineral
Color Black

The Black Star of Queensland named after it’s nature and place of origin, is a 733-carat (146.6 g) black sapphire, and was the world's largest gem quality star sapphire.[lower-alpha 1] The stone was reportedly discovered by 12-year-old Roy Spencer in the mid-1930s in the Queensland gem fields known as the Reward Claim near Anakie, Queensland.

Roy showed the stone to his miner father, Harry Spencer who was one of the pioneering miners of the central Queensland gemfields, who assumed that it was merely a large black crystal. Not realising the value of the stone with its rough exterior, the family used it as a doorstop in their home for over a decade, until Harry took a closer look and discovered the gem hidden within.

The Black Star sapphire is an oval-shaped gemstone cut as a cabochon like all other star sapphires. The center of the star is much bigger and brighter than normal star sapphires. The the bright six-rayed star is set in a completely black background. The beauty of the stone is further enhanced by it’s white gold setting. The large black stone is surrounded by a row of 35 pear shaped smaller white diamonds.

As with all Star Sapphires the star moves with changing angles of illumination and observation and belongs to the group of minerals known as corundum, a crystalline form of aluminum oxide (Al2O3), the hardest known natural substance with a hardness of 9 on the mohs scale.

The star effect in star sapphires is caused by microscopic inclusions mainly Rutile, aligned in a three fold pattern inside the stone that reflects the light entering the stone through its dome shaped face, into a six-rayed star pattern. 

In 1947, Harry Spencer[1] agreed to sell the stone to Armenian-born jeweler Harry Kazanjian for $18,000, with the money Harry Spencer built a new house for his family.   Harry Kazanjian spent two months studying the stone before making the decision to cut it, sacrificing over 400 carats to reveal the six pointed star.

The stone was renowned for bringing its owners luck.  Since the purchase in 1947, the business of the Kazanjian family boomed.  The Kazanjian family held the black gemstone for many years in spite of offers to purchase the stone. 

The gemstone was loaned to the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, in 1969 and in 1971 some brief television fame when the stone featured around the neck of Cher[2].  Since this time in spite of a small number of charity events the stone has rarely been seen in public.

Eager to fulfil a childhood dream, with an overwhelming desire to own the stone,  Jack Armstrong Jeweler and artist[3][4],  along with his wealthy girlfriend Gabrielle Grohe[5] convinced the Kazanjian family to sell the stone to fund a scholarship at the gemological institute.

What ensued was a lengthy, controversial and bitter ownership battle that marked the beginning of an international tussle for control of the stone.  Marked by the New York Post, which ran a story with the headline "HEAVYWEIGHT GEM $CUFFLE[6]”. The legal dispute quietly ended outside of court in a confidential agreement. According to court documents, Armstrong agreed to pay $500,000 within three months to buy out Grohe.

Failing to come up with the money, a judge entered a final ruling in favor of Grohe and Armstrong lost his ownership rights. The Black Star of Queensland once again sits in obscurity, with its owner in Switzerland.



  1. ^ "The Black Star of Queensland Famous Black Sapphire Gemstone". Retrieved 2017-07-26. 
  2. ^ hsc1960 (2015-09-02). "World’s Largest Gem-Quality Star Sapphire Served as a Dusty Doorstop for Nine Years". The Jeweler Blog. Retrieved 2017-07-26. 
  3. ^ kim, victoria. " - Connecting People Through News". Retrieved 2017-07-26. 
  4. ^ nason, pat. "Feature: Legendary sapphire for sale". upi. Retrieved 2017-07-26. 
  5. ^ Kim, Victoria (2010-01-05). "For some, a sapphire has not been their best friend". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-07-26. 
  6. ^ Li, David K. (2008-07-16). "HEAVYWEIGHT GEM $CUFFLE". New York Post. Retrieved 2017-07-26.