November 12, 2019
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The Place of Star Ruby in the World of Gems and Precious Stones

Asteria, or star stone (from Gr. star) is a name applied to ornamental stones that exhibit a luminous star when cut en cabochon. [5] Star Rubies are a rare variety of the gemstone Ruby. These magnificent gems display a sharp six-rayed star which seems to glide magically across the surface of the gem when the latter is moved. This is caused due to an optical phenomenon known as “Asterism”. Asterism is an optical phenomenon displayed by some rubies, sapphires, and other gems (i.e. star garnet, star diopside, star spinel, etc.) of an enhanced reflective area in the shape of a “star” on the surface of a cabochon cut from the stone. Star sapphires and rubies get their asterism from the titanium dioxide impurities (rutile) present in them.[6]  The Star-effect or “asterism” is caused by the dense inclusions of tiny fibers of rutile (also known as “silk”). The stars are caused by the light reflecting from needle-like inclusions of rutile aligned perpendicular to the rays of the star. However, since rutile is always present in star gemstones, they are almost never completely transparent.

A distinction can be made between two types of asterism:

  • Epiasterism, such as that seen in sapphire and most other gems, is the result of a reflection of light on parallel arranged inclusions inside the gemstone.
  • Diasterism, such as that seen in rose quartz, is the result of light transmitted through the stone. In order to see this effect, the stone must be illuminated from behind

star-stonesThe most typical asteria is the star-sapphire, generally a bluish-grey corundum, milky or opalescent, with a star of six rays. In red corundum the stellate reflection is less common, and hence the star-ruby occasionally found with the star-sapphire in Ceylon is among the most valued of “fancy stones”. When the radiation is shown by yellow corundum, the stone is called star-topaz. Cymophane, the chatoyant chrysoberyl known as cat’s eye, may also be asteriated. In all these cases the asterism is due to the reflection of light from twin-lamellae or from fine tubular cavities or thin enclosures definitely arranged in the stone. The best way to test the sharpness of the star is to look at the star ruby in sunlight with the dome facing the sun.  The star is best visible when the star ruby is seen in a single light source such as sunlight and spotlight. Star-effect or “asterism” is caused by the dense inclusions of tiny fibers of rutile (also known as “silk”). The stars are caused by the light reflecting from needle-like inclusions of rutile aligned perpendicular to the rays of the star. The star should be sharp (not blurry) and silvery / milky white. All six prongs should be straight and equally prominent. The complete star should be centered in the middle of the gem, but should also be able to glide effortlessly around the cabochon.  However, since rutile is always present in star rubies, they are never completely transparent. In fact, star ruby is one of those few gemstones which actually require inclusions (i.e. rutile).

star-stone-pliny-the-elder

Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, Pliny the Elder (AD 23 – AD 79)

The famous astrion of Pliny the Elder is believed to have been a moonstone, since it is described as a colourless stone from India having within it the appearance of a star shining with the light of the moon. Star-stones were formerly regarded with much superstition. Generally rubies are red. But star ruby is usually not red. Most star rubies are available in pinkish-red, purplish-red or purplish-brown colour. The distribution of colour is often uneven, in stripes and spots. A red ruby with a perfect star is very rare and costly. As a general rule, pink star rubies have the best stars. Normally, star rubies are available in the sizes ranging from 1 carat to 15 carats. Fine star rubies of large sizes are extremely rare and cost a lot of money. Most rough rubies that can be cut into stars are mined from Burma (Myanmar), Srilanka, India, Africa, Vietnam, Thailand, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Australia, Cambodia, United States. The most commonly available Star Rubies are usually from Africa and Indian.

The Symbolism and Ritual Use of the Star Ruby

Star Ruby’sproperties are identical to Ruby except that ‘star’ stones are believed to have increased powers and potency, they are deemed very lucky, they offer powerful protection from negative energies, and are seen as the ‘stone of nobility’. Conventional Rubies’ magical properties are well known around the world. According to a widely held belief dreaming of rubies indicates coming success in business or money matters. If dreamt of by a gardener or farmer, the ruby denotes a good harvest. [7]  In the 13th century magic, rubies were well established and widely recognized as wealth-increasing stones.  They were especially effective if engraved with the image of a dragon or snake before using. [8]  Ancient magic from India states that the possession of rubies helps their owner to accumulate other precious gems, perhaps because of the stone’s wealth-inducing qualities. [9] When worn the ruby was thought to convey invulnerability, or protection against all foes, wicked spirits, negativity, plague, fascination (magical manipulation), and famine. It was also a special mascot of soldiers, guarding against wounds in battle. The background contetxt of those superstitions is that “the ruby strengthens the body’s own psychic defense system when worn.” [10] Ruled by Mars, the ruby is worn during magical rituals to increase the energies available to the magician or placed on the alter beside a red candle to lend energy when he is feeling depleeted or drained. [11] Jewelry set with rubies is worn to bannish sadness and negative thought paterns. [12] More specifically, Star Rubies are thoughtto be particularly potent in protective and other forms of magic since a spirit was thought to dwell within it.  Star rubies can also be used as divinatory tools by gazing at the crossed lines of light. [13]

Tree of Life Attribution

The precious stones attribution for Chokmah are the star ruby  [1] because they are “representing the male energy of the creative star” [2]  and the turquoise [3] because it is “suggesting Mazloth, the sphere of the zodiac.” [4]

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[1]  Aleister Crowley, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writtings of Aleister Crowley, p. 10.
[2]  Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 42.
[3]  Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 42; Aleister Crowley, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writtings of Aleister Crowley, p. 10.
[4]  Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 42.
[5] A cabochon, from the Middle French caboche (head), is a gemstone which has been shaped and polished as opposed to faceted. The resulting form is usually a convex top with a flat bottom. Cutting en cabochon is usually applied to opaque gems, while faceting is usually applied to transparent stones. Hardness is also taken into account as softer gemstones with a hardness lower than 7 on the Mohs hardness scale are easily scratched, mainly by silicon dioxide in dust and grit. This would quickly make translucent gems unattractive—instead they are polished as cabochons, making the scratches less evident. In the case of asteriated stones such as star sapphires and chatoyant stones such as cat’s eye chrysoberyl, a domed cabochon cut is used to show the star or eye, which would not be visible in a faceted cut. The usual shape for cutting cabochons is an ellipse.
[6] Emsley, John (2001). Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 451 – 53.
[7] Scott Cunningham, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gems and Metal Magic, 2002, Llewellyn, p. 128.
[8] Scott Cunningham, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gems and Metal Magic, 2002, Llewellyn, p. 128-129.
[9] Scott Cunningham, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gems and Metal Magic, 2002, Llewellyn, p. 129.
[10] Scott Cunningham, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gems and Metal Magic, 2002, Llewellyn, p. 129.
[11] Scott Cunningham, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Ggems and Metal Magic, 2002, Llewellyn, p. 129.
[12] Scott Cunningham, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gems and Metal Magic, 2002, Llewellyn, p. 129.
[13] Scott Cunningham, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gems and Metal Magic, 2002, Llewellyn, p. 129.

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