When Bigger Is Better: Robert Procop’s 888.88 Carat Black Star Sapphire

The jewelry industry is awash with superlatives: the biggest, the rarest, the most expensive. That reality sometimes obscures the fact that truly peerless gems pass through our midst. Take the auspiciously sized 888.88 ct. black star sapphire known as the “Star of Jolie.”

Named after actress, director, and philanthropist Angelina Jolie by its owner, the Beverly Hills jeweler Robert Procop, the pear-shape sugarloaf cabochon is the largest star sapphire in the world. Last Thursday I had the chance to hold the inky stone and behold its luminescent star, a hypnotic sight for anyone with a love of color.

The occasion was Procop’s day-long personal appearance at Saks Fifth Avenue at South Coast Plaza, the luxury mall in Costa Mesa, Calif., that has, for 50 years, served as a magnet for the region’s most affluent consumers.

Robert Procop and Angelina Jolie

Robert Procop and Angelina Jolie

I’d made the drive to Costa Mesa, about an hour south of my home in Hollywood, so I could feel 888 cts. of gem-quality sapphire in my palm. Set into a fetching 18k rose gold necklace loaded with 104.42 cts. t.w. of additional black star sapphires, the piece was stuffed into Procop’s pocket when he greeted me.

He reached in, pulled it out, and handed it to me unceremoniously. It’s like “an anchor to your yacht in the Mediterranean,” he joked.

For a gemstone, the piece was heavy. The carat weight of the Star of Jolie is equal to about 177 grams, or roughly six ounces. Like a couple apples or a big gold pocket watch.

Although the sapphire was discovered in Queensland, Australia, in 1937 by James Kazanjian—of the Beverly Hills, Calif.–based Kazanjian Brothers, gem dealers with a long history of trading in star sapphires—it remained uncut until 2011, when Procop acquired it from James’ son, Michael Kazanjian.

Procop wasted no time in getting his famous client, friend, and collaborator’s take on it. “We had the rough form and I took it over to Brad and Angie’s house,” Procop recalls. “I said, ‘I think I can make it into a sugarloaf pear-shape and still keep the star in it.’ She and I sketched it out. We had 1,113 carats and got it down to 888.”

Robert Procop sketches for the Star of Jolie part 1

Robert Procop’s sketches for the Star of Jolie, part 1

Robert Procop sketches for the Star of Jolie part 2

Robert Procop’s sketches for the Star of Jolie, part 2

That makes the Star of Jolie bigger than the former reigning champion of star sapphires, the 733 ct. Star of Queensland.

The asking price: $5 million.

“When it sells, 100 percent of proceeds go to EPCC: Education Partnership for Children of Conflict,” Procop adds, referring to the nonprofit Jolie founded in 2006 to help fund schools for children in conflict-afflicted regions.

From here, the Star of Jolie will be displayed at Saks Fifth Avenue locations in Palm Desert, Calif., and Bal Harbour, Fla. Come December, it will temporarily move to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

But that’s not the only thing Procop has to crow about this fall. At South Coast Plaza, the jeweler also showcased his new Masterpiece collection of one-of-a-kind bracelets, earrings, and rings featuring Art Deco–inspired mosaics of baguette- and oval-cut rubies, diamonds, and sapphires.

“Every stone is flawless, every stone is natural, and the rubies are Burma, no heat, all flawless under the microscope,” Procop told me as a gaggle of women admired his jewelry. “Every bar of the bracelet was assembled individually. A Parisian gentleman does the ovals, a Swiss man does the baguettes.”

At a time when retail is supposed to be facing an apocalypse, and malls across the country are stumbling, my star sighting in a luxury shopping center frequented by the wealthiest of women reminded me that the future of jewelry retail may follow a different narrative.

Masterpiece earrings in platinum with sapphires and diamonds

Masterpiece earrings in platinum with sapphires and diamonds, price on request

Masterpiece bracelet in platinum

Masterpiece bracelet in platinum with rubies, pink and blue sapphires, and diamonds, price on request

JCK Magazine Editor