THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ASTERIA, or Star-stone (from Gr. ἀστήρ, star), a name applied to such ornamental stones as exhibit when cut en cabochon a luminous star. The typical asteria is the star-sapphire, generally a bluish-grey corundum, milky or opalescent, with a star of six rays. (See Sapphire.) In red corundum the stellate reflexion is less common, and hence the star-ruby occasionally found with the star-sapphire in Ceylon is among the most valued of “fancy stones.” When the radiation is shown by yellow corundum, the stone is called star-topaz. Cymophane, or chatoyant chrysoberyl, may also be asteriated. In all these cases the asterism is due to the reflexion of light from twin-lamellae or from fine tubular cavities or thin enclosures definitely arranged in the stone. The astrion of Pliny is believed to have been our moonstone, since it is described as a colourless stone from India having within it the appearance of a star shining with the light of the moon. All star-stones were formerly regarded with much superstition.
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