Origin of name
The 3553-carat (710.6g) “Raviratna Star Ruby” is the largest star ruby in the world, belonging to retired lawyer G. Vidyaraj of Bangalore, a descendant of the royal family of Vijayanagar, who inherited the enormous ruby and several other large gemstones, from his ancestors. Like the 1370-carat Neelanjali Star Ruby and the 2475-carat Rajaratha Star Ruby, the “Raviratna Star Ruby” was also a sacred object of worship, known as a lingam, the symbol of Shiva, called “Saligrama.” The devout Hindu rulers of Vijayanagar, after acquiring the large rough rubies had got them carved out in the shape of the sacred objects, which later became objects of worship of the royal household. This tradition of carving out lingams and yonis from expensive gemstones like diamonds and rubies had been prevalent in India since ancient times, and had continued until recent times. Even the famous Nizam diamond whose present whereabouts are not known was reported to exhibit traces of an attempt to shape it into the mystic yoni, the symbol of the goddess Sakti, consort of Siva, and was by some very ominous accident broken asunder in the year of the great Indian revolt of 1857-58.
The sacred objects had over the years been covered by grime and soot, and its bright red color concealed from the outside world, to the extent that even some of the latter kings of Vijayanagar might not have been aware of their actual composition, as any attempt to tamper with the objects would have been considered as desecration. Thus the secret of these objects lay hidden for centuries, until Mr. Vidyaraj inherited it and after being kept locked up in a cupboard for quite a long time, finally decided to investigate its nature. To his utter amazement the bright red color of the ruby revealed itself, and the sacred objects were identified as rubies. The full meaning of the word “Raviratna” is not known, but the word “Rathna” refers to Ruby. Readers who might have more information of the meaning of the word “Raviratne” are kindly requested to upload such information as comments to this page.
Characteristics of the gemstone
Color, cut, clarity and carat weight of the stone
The “Raviratna Star Ruby” said to be the world’s largest star ruby weighs a walloping 3553 carats, and is believed to be of Burmese origin. According to press reports the enormous ruby has a deep-red color, and displays an animated star of six rays. Being a star ruby the stone must have been necessarily cut as a cabochon, with a smooth dome-shaped face, on the surface of which the six-rayed star is formed, which appears to glide on the surface, as the stone is rotated sideways, while exposed to a direct source of light, such as sunlight or artificial light emanating from a battery-powered torch light or an electric spotlight. The clarity of the stone is not known but being a star ruby, the stone undoubtedly must be translucent, due to “silk” caused by rutile fibers, which are also responsible for the formation of the star.
Characteristics of a perfect star ruby
A perfect star ruby should have the following characteristics :-
1) The color should be pigeon-blood red color, the most desirable color found in most Mogok rubies.
2) The star should be well centered.
3) The rays should be sharp and well defined.
4) The rays should be long and extend up to the base of the stone.
5) The rays should be silvery or milky white
6) The stone should be translucent.
Perfect stars are associated only with certain tones of red
According to the press reports the body color of the “Raviratne Star Ruby” is deep red. If these reports are reliable, the deep red color which somewhat approaches the pigeon-blood color, represents an ideal color for star rubies. Observations made by experienced gemologists have shown, that the best stars in rubies are usually associated with the lighter shades of red, such as pinkish-red or reddish-pink. Two of the famous star rubies in the world, the Sri Lankan “Rosser Reeves Star Ruby” and the Burmese “DeLong Star Ruby” have these colors, and their stars are almost perfect. To have a perfect star in a pigeon-blood red ruby is extremely rare, and if present could command the highest prices offered for star rubies. Is it possible that the “Raviratna Star Ruby” which has a color approaching pigeon-blood red color, is one of those rare rubies with a combination of dark red color and perfect star ? If so the sum of $ 500 million, the reported price for the 3553-carat star ruby would be perfectly justifiable, provided the stone is of gem quality and without cracks and fissures, that are usually found in enormous rubies. The price per carat for the ruby works out to $ 140,000. This is quite cheap when compared to the $ 425,000 per carat realized for the 8.62-carat “Graff Ruby”, in February 2006, the highest price per carat ever paid for a star ruby at an auction.
Chemical properties of star rubies
Rubies like sapphires belong to the group of minerals called corundum, which is crystalline aluminum oxide. In fact all colors of corundum are called sapphires except the red variety which are known as rubies. The red color in rubies is caused by some atoms of chromium, that displace the aluminum atoms in the crystal lattice of aluminum oxide. The Burmese and Sri Lankan rubies contain only chromium as the coloring agent, but rubies originating in Thailand have iron atoms in addition to chromium atoms. This gives a brownish red to purplish red color to these rubies.
The role played by chromium in the growth of the ruby crystal
An interesting feature about rubies is that the element chromium which is responsible for its color, also interferes with the growth of the crystal, causing the formation of cracks and fissures in the crystal. Thus it is virtually impossible to have enormous flawless crystals of gem-quality rubies, unlike sapphires which can grow to enormous sizes without any flaws. Most of the gem-quality famous rubies in the world are less than 100 carats in weight. The only two famous rubies that are greater than 100 carats in weight are the 100.32-carat “DeLong Star Ruby” and the 138.7-carat “Rosser Reeves Star Ruby.” We are not sure of the quality of the enormous 3553-carat “Raviratna Star Ruby”, because of the scarcity of information pertaining to this gemstone. However, if the quality is exceptional without any flaws in the form of cracks and fissures, as found in other enormous ruby crystals, this could be nothing short of an almost miraculous occurrence. Given that anything is possible in nature, this might well be one of the unique and extremely rare occurrences. In any case we cannot say anything definite about the quality of the gemstone unless more information is available.
Readers who might have access to an image or images of the Raviratna Ruby are kindly requested to upload the same at this link
History of the “Raviratna Star Ruby”
Important: The history of the “Raviratna Star Ruby” is parallel to that of the “Neelanjali Star Ruby” as both stones were re-discovered around the same time by Mr. G. Vidyaraj. For more information on the history of the gemstone please click here.