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It's July... Time to celebrate the Ruby

Ah… the Ruby. Birthstone for July, it is also used to celebrate the 15th and 40th wedding anniversary. The ruby is also associated with Tuesday.

One of the four precious stones (Diamond, Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire), the ruby shares the corundum branch of the gem family tree along with the sapphire. All corundum stones that are not red are considered sapphires.

Physical Properties

The ruby is the highest valued colored gemstone and has been so for centuries, not only for its excellent Mohs scale hardness of 9, but also for it’s beautiful red hue. In it’s pure form, corundum is colorless and the chromium in the ruby is what makes it red. The word “corundum” comes from the Tamil word “kurundam” meaning “ruby sapphire” and the word “ruby” comes from the Latin word “rubber” meaning red.

Found in many countries around the world, the most sought after rubies are found in Burma. The Burmese ruby is by far the deepest red, with a hint of blue, and very clear with few inclusions. One of the most famous rubies set in jewelry is the Hope Ruby Ring weighing in at 32.8 carats that sold for $6.7 million in 2012.

Ruby exhibits strong pleochroism, showing yellow-red and deep carmine red when viewed from different angles. The ruby ranges from opaque to transparent, and can be quite

beautiful. Though there are many inclusions, these inclusions will signify a genuine ruby from a synthetic. The primary cuts for rubies is an oval or cushion, but the opaque rubies that exhibit asterism (star effect) are usually cut into cabochons.

Since the ruby is the most imitated stone, spotting a synthetic ruby is difficult. One way is to look for the inclusions. Rubies almost always have inclusions and even the ones that are very clear, even under magnification, can be fake. One way to spot an imitation without damaging the stone, is by using a UV light

and look for "florescence". Ruby florescence is a tricky way to distinguish a genuine ruby. By using a LW UVA light (black light) one can definitely see the difference between the synthetic ruby bead and a genuine Burmese Ruby Gem. Rubies from other parts of the world fluoresce differently with different colors, so be sure to leave it up to the experts. Though it is an awful fun way to look at these amazing stones.


Rubies have been around for centuries, cherished, desired for and written about. The ruby is referenced four times in the Bible, every time in association with the attributes of beauty and wisdom. In Ancient Sanskrit texts it is called “ratnaraj”, or “King of Precious Stones”. It was also classified, describing its hardness and density, in the ancient works by Pliney the Elder, the Roman Scholar. His group of 37 books were the scientific authority in the world until the Middle Ages.

The Ruby has a long and lustrous history dating back into ancient times. And with that, many attributes have been associated with the ruby. The blood red color of the ruby has long been associated with the blood of humans, the life force that runs through our veins and is believed to hold the power of life. Its red color is also associated with desire and it is thought by some to be a stone of love with an aphrodisiac affect.

Ruby Lore

Ancient Hindus believed that making a ruby sacrifice to Krishna would ensure rebirth as an emperor. Burmese Warriors believed so much that rubies would make them invincible, they had them inserted under their skin before battle. Medieval Europeans believed rubies assured good health, prosperity, wisdom and a successful love life. Basically they would make you healthy, wealthy and wise!

It was thought in both ancient Greece and India that if one threw a ruby into water, it would make the water boil. And it would also melt wax with a singe touch. Both of these are associated with fire and heat and with that, purity. If you boil water, it purifies it! Therefore the connection between the fiery ruby and moral purity was made and was believed for centuries.

In China, the red color of the ruby was considered good luck. It was also said to stimulate the life force and it was worn t draw other people to the wearer. It was said the ruby would create an irresistible draw with charisma and natural energy of the stone.

Ruby Fun Facts

  • In sanskrit, ruby is ratnaraj, meaning the "King of Precious Stones"

  • on May 12, 2015, a 25.59-ct ruby ring sold for $1,266,901 per carat, setting a new record at auction for a colored gemstone

  • The Ruby is associated with Tuesday.

  • It has a reputation for keeping travelers safe

  • It was thought that throwing a ruby into water, it would make the water boil.

  • Burmese warriors were so certain the ruby would make them invincible, small rubies were inserted under the skin prior to battle.

So find a precious ruby and wear it for protection, health and wisdom. Give it to your spouse after 40 years of wedded bliss, enjoy the Rolling Stones song, insert it under your skin before battle. But if none of these reasons appeal to you, wear it because it is a beautiful stone.

Until next month… when we discuss the Peridot. The sweet pale green stone that is one of the few you can only find in one color….Green.



The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones by Judith Crowe

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