The ruby has had a spellbinding affect on the world for thousands of years. Its intense red hue strikes a passionate cord with many cultures making it one of the four most valuable gemstones in the world. In fact, the ruby is among what some would call the “covenant” of gemstones along with diamonds, emeralds and sapphires.
It is considered the official birthstone for the month of July by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912. This gemstone’s name is derived from the Latin word “ruber” meaning red. Evidence of this gorgeous gemstone has also been found in the ancient language of Sanskrit, the term “ratnaraj” meaning “king of precious stones” was used in reference to the ruby. The ruby, with its fiery color, has been associated with nobility, passion, love, deep emotions and mental clarity. Cultures worldwide have spent a lot of money searching for the finest specimens of this alluring gemstone.
A ruby in its pure form can be found in hues of pink, purple, orange and brownish-red. The intensity of the red depends on the amount of chromium and iron that is found in the stone. Gemstone experts and geologists are able to tell what region of the world the precious gemstone came from just by looking at the color. This is the reason that some of the world’s rubies are described by a country; such as Burmese or Thai ruby. Actually, the Burmese rubies are considered some of the most dazzling and valuable rubies in the world. Burma, now known as Myanmar, had an infamous mine known as Moguk. The rubies that were unearthed here had a distinct “blood red” color that was coveted around the world for centuries. Other valuable rubies can be found in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Madagascar. These stones tend to display a pink hue with excellent clarity to a deep red transparent hue respectively. Today, most rubies in the marketplace are heat treated to maximize the red color and minimize the appearance of blue and brown. A ruby’s color is not the only thing that makes one of the world’s most valuable gemstone, it also happens to be extremely durable. The ruby is a variety of the mineral corundum, one of the hardest substances on the Earth behind the diamond. It ranks a 9 on the Moh’s scale of hardness. Rubies are considered the sister stone of the sapphire, another variety of corundum. There is a variety of ruby called a “star ruby”. This is a ruby that displays an asterism, or six-point star, across the surface of the gemstone. These are typically cabochon cut to maximize the beauty of the asterism.
Rubies, similar to the diamond, are evaluated by the four c’s: color, cut, clarity and carat. However, as with most colored gemstones, color is the most important factor when evaluating a ruby’s worth. When judging color; gemologist and jewelers consider hue, saturation and tone. The hue refers to the color. To be considered a ruby, the primary hue of the corundum must be red. All other colors of corundum are called sapphires. Some rubies may have a range of secondary hues such as orange, purple, violet and pink. The general rule for a good ruby is one that exhibits a medium to dark red tone. Some call lighter varieties of corundum, pink sapphire. There is an old joke about rubies that are questionable: “Whether it is a pink sapphire or a ruby depends on whether you are the buyer or the seller.” As with many gemstones, there are imitation rubies scattered in the marketplace. Many red garnets, colored glass and red spinels are marketed as rubies. Buyers should watch out for industry terms such as balas ruby for red spinel or rubellite for red tourmaline. Actually, imitation rubies have been traced back to 17th century Rome, when artisans would burn scarlet wool at the bottom of a furnace and place that under another stone. This would turn the stone a red color which was then called a “ruby”.
The ruby has long been associated with mystical properties. A myriad of cultures believed that anyone who owned a ruby would receive some of powers. The ruby is considered a noble stone with an extremely intense and vibrant energy field. It is believed that the owner of the stone is encouraged to follow their passion. Many cultures believe that rubies bring their owners love, loyalty, confidence and courage while enhancing strength, stamina and vitality. When a ruby is given as a gift, it is seen as a symbol of devotion and the willingness to help and support the receiver. In ancient Asian cultures, rubies were used to decorate the armor and harnesses of the elite. These alluring gemstones were even sprinkled beneath the foundation of buildings to secure good fortune to the structure. Rubies are also believed to help the physical being as well as the emotional. It is believed to help with helping heal issues of the reproductive system; helps balance the blood sugar and any disorders relating to the blood flow and the heart. Another attribute that many cultures believe the ruby possesses is the ability to reduce negative energy. It helps to clear a mental pathway to allow its owner to achieve their dreams while promoting creativity and awareness.
One of the largest and finest specimens of ruby sits at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. The Burmese ruby is an astounding 23.1 carats. The glistening gemstone is set in a platinum ring with diamonds and was a donation by businessman and philanthropist Peter Buck in memory of his wife Carmen Lucia. The ruby was discovered in the 1930’s in the famous Moguk region of Burma. Another infamous ruby is known as the Moguk Ruby or Alan Caplan Ruby. It’s 15.97 carats of untreated Burmese ruby and was sold for $3,630,000 by Sotheby’s of New York in October 18th, 1988. Graff of London eventually purchased it and the gemstone was reportedly sold to the Sultan of Brunei as an engagement ring for one of his wives. Today, jewelers are infusing this illustrious gemstone into jeweler in a number of gorgeous ways and they are widely available to the public. From the classic to modern designs; these beautiful gems add alluring color, a hint of mystery and a touch of passion to your signature style.