Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

June 1999

Gemstones & Pearls:News

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

A new source produces star rubies

Among the many gems produced in Vietnam, star ruby has become, well, a star.

Star ruby is relatively inexpensive, ranging from $60 to $400 per carat wholesale. "It's also completely natural," says Ron Ohm of Ron Ohm, Exotic Stones, Carmel, CA. (Heating would dissolve the minute rutile needles that give rise to the asterism.) The material is quite included, as is all star corundum and is not suitable for faceting, says Ohm, who distributes the material.

The mine that produces the star ruby, discovered in 1997, is called Yen Bai and is located north of Hanoi. "Yen Bai produces only cat's-eyes or lower-grade cabochon material," says Ohm. "The main customers are Japanese, though there has been a lot of interest in the United States as well."

Vietnam is known also for sapphire of all colors, peridot, aquamarine, spinel and other gems. A cutting industry has developed and flourished there, and Ohm says it's best to buy polished star rubies. "When you buy the rough, it's a crap shoot because you never know what you're getting," he says. With a fashioned star ruby, that's obviously not the case.

Star ruby from Vietnam is courtesy of Ron Ohm Exotic Stones, Carmel, CA.

  • Exotic Stones, Carmel, CA; (831) 655-5119.

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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