Ceramic is an inorganic, non-metallic, often crystalline oxide, nitride or carbide material. Some elements, such as carbon or silicon, may be considered ceramics. Ceramic materials are brittle, hard, strong in compression, and weak in shearing and tension. They withstand chemical erosion that occurs in other materials subjected to acidic or caustic environments. Ceramics generally can withstand very high temperatures, such as temperatures that range from 1,000 °C to 1,600 °C (1,800 °F to 3,000 °F).
Rutile is a mineral composed primarily of titanium dioxide. Rutile has among the highest refractive indices at visible wavelengths of any known crystal, and also exhibits a particularly large birefringence and high dispersion. Small rutile needles present in gems are responsible for an optical phenomenon known as asterism. Asteriated gems are known as "star" gems. Star sapphires, star rubies, and other "star" gems are highly sought after and are generally more valuable than their normal counterparts.