Micro-World Gems & Gemology, Spring 2018, Vol. 54, No. 1

Six-Rayed Star in Sapphire from Myanmar

Night sky inclusion scene in Burmese star sapphire.
This inclusion scene features an apparent iron sulfide crystal against a midnight blue backdrop. It is reminiscent of the night sky, echoing the surface appearance of the star sapphire host. Photomicrograph by E. Billie Hughes; field of view 2.15 mm.

Gems are renowned for their outward beauty, but their internal world can be just as striking. Lotus Gemology recently came across a Burmese sapphire, cut as a cabochon and measuring 8.92 × 7.10 × 4.75 mm, that displayed a six-rayed star. Once we examined it under the microscope, we were surprised to find that this celestial theme carried through to the inclusion scene inside (see above).

The long, undissolved rutile silk needles that form the six-rayed star are evident in angular zones. We could also see other inclusions typical of unheated sapphire, such as the tiny negative crystals forming a “fingerprint” at the top of the image. What was most interesting about this piece was the large, irregularly shaped crystal with a metallic appearance hovering close to the surface of the cabochon dome, which we believe is an iron sulfide crystal based on its appearance. This highly reflective crystal seems to float across a midnight blue backdrop, reminiscent of an asteroid floating in space and making for a fitting inclusion in a star sapphire.

E. Billie Hughes is a gemologist and co-founder of Lotus Gemology in Bangkok.