Micro-World
Gems & Gemology, Fall 2017, Vol. 53, No. 3

“Flower in the Rain” Inclusion in Sri Lankan Sapphire

Jonathan Muyal and Nathan Renfro
Sapphire inclusion scene resembling a flower.
Reminiscent of a flower in a rainstorm, this inclusion scene has been dramatically enhanced using modified Rheinberg illumination to accentuate a growth blockage and thin-film rosette within a sapphire from Elahera, Sri Lanka. Photomicrograph by Jonathan Muyal; field of view 1.34 mm.

The island of Sri Lanka is famous for gems but is also notable for its enormous biodiversity. It therefore seemed fitting that when these authors encountered a fascinating inclusion reminiscent of a beautiful flower within a Sri Lankan sapphire, it would embody these themes.

This 3.64 ct blue sapphire specimen from Elahera exhibited an interesting growth blockage resulting in an elongate tube capped by a rosette-like thin-film fluid inclusion. To further enhance the inclusion scene, Rheinberg illumination (Fall 2015 Micro-World, pp. 328–329) using blue and yellow filters provided additional contrast. This lighting technique transformed the inclusion scene into an easily imagined, vibrantly colored flower caught in a rainstorm, something one might encounter while visiting the tropical island nation (see above). 

Growth blockages occur when a foreign mineral grain or particle interrupts the growth of a crystal (Spring 2010 Lab Notes, pp. 55–56). As the crystal continues to grow, an elongate void is typically produced, which may extend to the surface or be capped off, as seen in this sapphire. Even though a growth blockage is not diagnostic of Sri Lankan origin in sapphire, this inclusion scene is an appropriate symbolic representation of the “resplendent isle.”

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