Smithsonian Adds a Star

The Smithsonian Institution has been given a 16.21-ct. natural Ceylon star ruby. The Star of Katandru has classic Sri Lankan color and a perfect star—six straight, centered, unbroken legs.

Jeffrey Bilgore, gem dealer in New York, says a series of fortunate circumstances allowed him to buy the star, and some vivid memories suggested where it should ultimately go. Bilgore remembers his first visits to the Smithsonian’s collection, when he fell in love with the phenomenal stones. He also remembered that Smithsonian gem curator Jeffrey Post was looking for a fine star ruby. And, in the back of his mind, Bilgore kept hearing the words of his supplier, saying, “I’ve never seen another one like this,” and “Don’t give it away.” So Bilgore called Post and did just that—he donated the gem to the museum. “If I sell it, I never get to see it again,” says Bilgore. “This way everyone gets to see it.”

But where is Katandru? “Somewhere between the counties of Westchester, N.Y., and Fairfield, Conn.,” laughs Bilgore, who named the stone after his two children, Katherine and Andrew.

Bilgore dedicated the donation to the memory of I. George Heyman of Oscar Heyman, Bilgore’s former employer, mentor, and friend. “His name deserves to be in the Hall,” says Bilgore. “To have his name in the hall of American gemstones tickles me pink.”