Back in 1989, you could hardly turn on a radio without hearing Cher’s hit song If I Could Turn Back Time. A couple of decades later, and it could be argued that with her various visits to the plastic surgeon, Cher is indeed attempting to turn back time. She has always been known for her unique, almost provocative fashion choices, but it’s difficult to think of Cher wearing something that used to be wedged under a door to keep it open… This is exactly what she did in the 1970’s, when she wore the Black Star of Queensland around her neck. OK, so the Black Star of Queensland’s door stopping days were well in the past by then, but when this massive sapphire was unearthed in country Australia in the 1930’s, its value wasn’t immediately obvious, and so due to its convenient shape and weight, it made an ideal doorstop. The Black Star of Queensland was eventually recognized for what is was- the largest star sapphire ever discovered, and was cleaned up and sold. But what are some of the other best known sapphires throughout history that have captured the public’s attention (and have made their finders obscenely wealthy)?
The Star of India
While the Black Star of Queensland is the largest star sapphire (733 carats), it has a deep, dark color that makes it not instantly recognizable as a sapphire. The best-known traditional blue sapphire is probably the Star of India (although it was mined in Sri Lanka). This 563-carat gem can be seen at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York. Visitors should count themselves lucky to be able to see this marvel, since it almost disappeared forever in 1964. Thieves cased out the museum and found that they could easily slip back after closing by leaving a bathroom window open. The Star of India was woefully unprotected, and the battery that powered its alarm was in fact dead, allowing the thieves to simply open the case, take the gem and leave. After an intensive investigation, the sapphire was discovered in a rented locker at the Miami central bus station- it’s temporary resting place before leaving the US forever. It was returned to the museum, hopefully with improved security.
The Star of Bombay
Gin and tonic aficionados might be familiar with the gin Bombay Sapphire, but they might not know that the beverage takes its name from the 182-carat Star of Bombay, a massive sapphire that can be seen in the Smithsonian Institution. The gem was a symbol of love, and was gifted to the world famous silent film actress Mary Pickford by her husband Douglas Fairbanks (who were basically the Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt of their time). After Mary Pickford passed away in 1979, the museum received the gem, as per her instructions.
The Sapphire as a Birthstone
While your budget might not stretch to providing your loved one with one of these gigantic gems, a sapphire of any size can make a wonderful gift, particularly for those born in September, since it’s the traditional birthstone for that month. A huge range of birthstone gift ideas can be found online, and there’s no better place to start looking than Amazon. And if you’re really stuck for ideas, maybe that rock holding your door open is a gem in disguise…