Tuesday, January 05, 2010

"the largest-known star sapphire in the world"

The boy brought home a dull-colored half-pound stone he found on the hillside, and his father, Harry Spencer, thought of the perfect place for it. They would use it as a doorstop.

The year was 1938, and their home was a modest shack in a sparsely populated, dusty stretch of gem-mining territory in central Queensland, Australia. The stone sat at the backdoor for 10 years, until a jeweler recognized its potential and brought it across the Pacific. In Los Angeles, it was polished to reveal a six-pronged, mesmerizingly beautiful star -- or so goes the story that is passed down about the largest-known star sapphire in the world.

The Black Star of Queensland would make its way around the world, weaving in and out of spotlight and obscurity, with stops in the Smithsonian in the '60s, on Cher's neck in the '70s, and at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto in 2007. It would capture the fantasy of a young boy, who would dream of one day owning it. It would be mounted on white gold and 35 diamonds added around its rim.

Some profess the stone has a certain magic, bringing luck to the fortunate few who have touched it. One owner said it brought on the darkest period of her life, leaving memories she never wanted to revisit.

Eventually, as many prized things do, it landed in L.A. County Superior Court, at the center of allegations of deception, unkept promises and a lover's betrayal.

Above, Cher wears the Black Star of Queensland in a sketch on TV in 1971.

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