Ruby: The July Birthstone

Happy Birthday to all the July babies! If you haven’t treated yourself to the July birthstone, there is no better time than the present.

Color: A ruby is a bright red to a blood-red colored gemstone. This stone gets its color from the element chromium, and its name comes from ruber, the Latin word for red. The very best color in rubies is sometimes described as “pigeon’s blood.”

Origins: For centuries Myanmar (Burma) was the world’s main source for rubies. They have also been mined in Thailand, Cambodia, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Post World War II ruby deposits were found in Australia, Tanzania, Madagascar, Vietnam, Nepal, and Tajikistan. The states of Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wyoming in the United States have also produced rubies. Recently, large deposits of the red gemstone have been found in Greenland.

History: In the ancient language of Sanskrit, ruby is called ratnaraj, and means King of precious stones. Ancient Hindus believed that those who offered rubies to the god Krishna were granted rebirth as emperors. In Burma, warriors possessed rubies to make them invincible in battle. According to the story of Marco Polo, Kublai Khan offered the King of Ceylon a city in exchange for a large ruby.

Corundum Conundrum: Ruby is a sister stone to sapphires. Both gemstones are formed from the mineral corundum family. Pink sapphires have been confused for rubies in many instances, however, our Director of Gemology, Mike Burnett, will offer that the difference is truly dependent on the tone and depth of color. It is extremely difficult to decipher, and defining the difference between the two gemstones should be left to Graduate Gemologist (we have a full staff of them!).

Fun Facts:

  • Ruby is said to have the ability to inspire devotion, integrity, courage, prosperity, and passion. The red gemstone is thought to increase cheerfulness, enhance intuition, and eliminate nightmares.
  • The Medieval Crown of Charles IV of Luxembourg held a gem quality ruby that was 250 carats.
  • The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, has one of the world’s largest and finest ruby gemstones. The 23.1-carat Burmese ruby, set in a platinum ring with diamonds, was donated by businessman and philanthropist Peter Buck. It was mined in the 1930s in the Mogok region of Myanmar.
  • Worn by kings and the aristocracy since the beginning of time, the red stone was thought to ward off sickness and to make one invulnerable to defeat.
  • In 1973 Queen Elizabeth commissioned the creation of her Burmese ruby tiara. This stunning piece contains 96 rubies that were given to the queen as a wedding gift by the Burmese people.
  • The Delong Star Ruby resides in the Natural History Museum in New York City. This 100.32 carat stone was stolen in 1964 along with the Star of India and was ransomed for $25,000.
  • In December of 2011, Elizabeth Taylor’s complete jewelry collection was actioned by Christie’s. Her 8.24-carat ruby ring sold for $4.2 million.
  • The Liberty Bell Ruby is the largest mined ruby in the world, it was found in East Africa in the 1950s. It weighs four pounds and is 8.5 thousand carats. Cut into a miniature form of the Liberty Bell it has 50 diamonds set in it and is valued at $2 million. It was stolen from a jewelry store in Delaware in 2011. In early 2014 four men were arrested and indicted for the heist. Police have little hope that this stone will be recovered.
  • Reuters reported that a Burmese ruby, known as the Sunrise Ruby, weighed in at 25.59cts sold for 28.25 million Swiss francs, or $30.4 million USD in 2015. This sale created a new world record.

Hardness:      9.0

Care: Warm, soapy water and a brush is the easiest way to clean this gem. Because of its strong structural properties, steam and ultrasonic cleaners can also be used. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean, dry cloth. Rubies should be stored in a fabric-lined box, away from other pieces of jewelry, as they may scratch other softer gemstones.

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