Fine-quality rubies are rare as it is, and rubies beautiful enough to become legendary are even rarer.
The Rosser Reeves Star Ruby is an example of a star ruby high enough quality to become famous. The star arms are very straight, reaching across the ruby from edge to edge, and are even lengths.
For a ruby of this size, a star of this quality is almost unheard of. Furthermore, the ruby is semi-transparent, meaning it shows the best possible transparency a star ruby can show. All of this is in combination with perfect color between its hue, tone, and saturation.
The Rosser Reeves does have a couple of small blemishes. Besides these, which are visible in the photo, the 99% clear appearance is world-class in terms of rarity. Additionally, these “blemishes” (formally called clarity characteristics in the gemological community) enable identification by gemologists, and are used to check for signs of treatments.
The last private owner was its namesake, Rosser Reeves. He made his whole fortune in advertisement and was a known eccentric. He would carry this ruby around in his pocket, almost losing it in the back-seat of an NYC Taxi on one occasion.
The DeLong Star Ruby is another one-of-a-kind, world-class star ruby.
This ruby was also involved in a high-profile theft from the American Museum of Natural History in 1965 by Jack Roland Murphy, Allen Khun, and Roger Clark. The museum windows were left unlocked anyways, and the case lids were lifted off with a screwdriver. The immediate alarm was turned off by an under-paid and bribed security guard.
A number of other gems had been taken too including the 16 carat Eagle Diamond, and the Star of India, a gem-quality sapphire over 500 carats.
After being caught, Khun pleaded for leniency and led officers to where the gems were being held; a coin locker in a Miami bus station. The Eagle Diamond was never recovered, most likely being cut-up into smaller diamonds and no longer exists. All these world-class gems had not been insured at the time either.
Looking at a world map, you will find that most gem-quality rubies come from around the edge of the Indian Ocean, with a few other low-production areas around the globe.
North Carolina will never be listed among these sources, yet managed to produce not one, or two, but four fine-quality semi-transparent star rubies with some of the most perfect stars ever seen. Amongst these is the Smokey Mountain Two Star Ruby, which shows two stars (one on the top, one on the bottom).
While rubies like the Delong show better quality overall with less-visible growth zoning, its star is not as high-quality as those from North Carolina. The Misty Sar Ruby has the most unique profile of the group as a pear-shaped cabochon. The Appalachian Star Ruby is the largest of the group and went on display at the Natural History Museum in London, drawing some of the largest crowds the museum has ever seen.
Cutting stars in rubies is very, very difficult. The fact that the Smokey Mountain Two Star Ruby has two well-centered stars is phenomenal. By comparison the Promise Star Ruby is a little boring. However, its circular shape shows how even and straight all its arms are. Seeing a perfect star with a perfect shape is a rare treat.
A fine-quality double-star ruby weighing 1,370 carats, this ruby is reportedly of top-quality appearance. There are rumored price quotes of $100 million dollars for this gem. Unfortunately, information on it is limited due to its being in the private possession of G. Vidyaraj. He also has other world-class rubies in his possession.
There is a story to accompany this perfect collection of rubies. Supposedly, Vidyaraj is a descendant of the last Hindu dynasty to rule the Vijayanagara Empire in South India. While the family was still in power, they collected sacred items known as “Shaligram” as a symbol of Vishnu in certain sects of Hinduism. Shaligram are also colored black. These black rocks continued to be worshipped as sacred objects in the family, including their eventual flight from the declining empire and new life as farmers.
As an individual not as concerned with religion as his wife and family, Vidyaraj eventually started to clean these sacred items when home alone with soapy water and a toothbrush. This led to the discovery of a distinct, bright red patch of color underneath. With sufficient research he decided to have the not-Shaligrams cut, which revealed world-class star rubies of impeccable quality.
Unfortunately there are no public photos available to show these rubies, though there is documentation to prove that they are very real. It does beg the question of what quality they are. If the appearance does match the price quotes, they may be the most impressive star rubies ever known. The fact that they are all a part of the same collection would make even the wealthiest gem aficionados in the world drool.
This is the largest star-ruby in existence, weighing 6,465 carats or 2.85 lbs, although not of gem quality. It also lacks publicly available photos and is currently owned by Kailash Rawat of Eminent Gems.
Star rubies are usually very small and only a few carats large at most in the top-qualities. This is because the element that colors rubies, chromium, physically limits the size they can grow to without significant fractures. Aside from the incredibly rare exceptions listed above, rubies never reach gem-quality (much less top-quality) at sizes over 50 carats. Even major auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christies do not usually see star rubies over 25 carats, though private sales might be a separate story.