Star of Bombay

Star of Bombay

The 182-carat (36.4-g) Star of Bombay

The Star of Bombay is a 182-carat (36.4-g) cabochon-cut star sapphire originating from Sri Lanka. The violet-blue gem was given to silent film actress Mary Pickford by her husband, Douglas Fairbanks. She bequeathed it to the Smithsonian Institution. It is the namesake of the popular alcoholic beverage Bombay Sapphire, a British-manufactured gin.[1]


The Star of Bombay is a 182 carat (36.4-g) cabochon-cut star sapphire. According to Southern Jewerly News, "The Star of Bombay sapphire belongs to the mineral species corundum. Pure corundum is colorless, but trace amounts of transition elements like vanadium or chromium result in different colors in the crystal. The Star of Bombay’s violet-blue color is caused by the presence of titanium and iron giving the blue tint, and vanadium contributing to its violet back color."[2]


The Star of Bombay originates from Sri Lanka and is one of the largest star sapphires which have names unrelated to their origin, the other being the Star of India.[3] It is the namesake of the popular alcoholic beverage Bombay Sapphire, a British-manufactured gin.[1] The gem was first acquired by Trabert & Hoeffer Inc. of Park Avenue in New York and was set in a platinum ring. It is believed that the ring was purchased by Douglas Fairbanks, a famous silent film movie star and that he would give the ring to Mary Pickford. A 1935 advertisement for the Star of Bombay had it listed at at 60 carats and did not include information on its origins and described it as "In all the world the only one".[4]

In 1979, Mary Pickford died and bequeathed the Star of Bombay, to the Smithsonian Museum. Edward Stotsenberg of the Mary Pickford Foundation called the Smithsonian and a representative was sent out to examine the stone. According to Stotsenberg, the representative stated that the Star of Bombay was much brighter than other stones and pried it from the clasps and returned to the Smithsonian with it.[5] The gem is currently displayed in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b Ewing, Betty (1986-05-16). "Museum of Natural Science planning a 'gem of an evening'". Houston Chronicle. 
  2. ^ "The Story Behind the Stone: The Star of Bombay". Jarrett, Diana. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "The Star of Bombay". Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "Stage Volume 35". Stage Publishing Company. 1935. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "Mary Pickford's Star of Bombay". Los Angeles Times. 26 February 1996. Retrieved 1 September 2014.