Q. What is the birthstone for July? A. Ruby

The red coloured ruby is one of the conventional cardinal gems, which is often called the “Lord of gemstones” owing to its hardness (which is next to diamond) and everlasting colour. This gemstone owes its name to the Latin word “ruber” which stands for red and is the most precious member of the corundum family.

Where are rubies mined?

For centuries, Upper Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) Mogok Valley has been the world’s chief source of rubies, but very few of this precious gemstone has been found in the region over the recent years. Instead, its place has been taken by Mong Hsu in central Myanmar, together with the ruby deposits recently discovered in Namya (Namyazeik). 

Pink sapphires (lighter shades of rubies) are found in Sri Lanka. In mainland Europe, Macedonia’s Prilep is where naturally occurring 'raspberry' coloured rubies are found.

Rubies in smaller quantities are also mined in Thailand (mines of Chantabun), India, Kenya, Australia and Tanzania. In the US, a handful of rubies have been found in South Carolina, Montana, Wyoming and North Carolina. Very few rubies from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Pamir mountains too could be found in the markets around the world though mining in these unfriendly terrain is extremely difficult and thus, rare. 

A brief history of the gem

Value of ruby finds a description in the Bible where a phrase says “more precious than rubies”. This holy text mentions rubies four times when talking about attributes like wisdom and beauty.

Sanskrit – the ancient language, calls this gemstone a “Ratnaraj” which means the “king of precious stones”. 

In the first century AD, the density and hardness of rubies found a mention in Natural History by Pliny the Elder – a Roman scholar. 

According to the ancient Hindus, any person who offered fine rubies to Lord Krishna was granted to be reborn as an emperor.

Over the centuries, rubies have accumulated myths a plenty.People in India believed owners of ruby to enjoy perfect safety and make peace even with their enemies. 

In Burma (which is Myanmar today), warriors believed possessing a ruby would make them unconquerable in battle.But for them, just wearing the rubies wasn’t adequate. The gemstone needed to be inserted into their flesh to make them an inherent element of their bodies.

In several ancient cultures, rubies are often considered the most valuable of the 12 stones that God had created.

When the western world came into existence, ruby retained its position of importance and soon became one of the most sought-after precious gemstones of the upper classes and the European royalty alike. Rubies were worn by several medieval Europeans to guarantee wealth, knowledge, success in love and health.

The chemical composition of ruby is Aluminium Oxide (Al2O3).

Uses in jewellery 

Usually, rubies are found in a wide variety of all shades of red to reddish pink. All red corundums are categorized as rubies while the paler pinks tend to be known as sapphires. The most valuable varieties of this gemstone have a medium red to moderate dark red tone, often called the “pigeon blood” red hue.  

Since ruby is the gemstone of passion and love, it makes an ideal romantic gift.

Some interesting facts about rubies

1. The Sunrise Ruby - a Burmese ruby weighing 25.59 carats, which fetched an auction price of $30 million in 2015, is the world’s most expensive ruby ever sold at an auction. 

2. The 5-inch, 4-pound Liberty Bell Ruby is the world’s largest mined ruby, which was stolen in a heist in 2011; though the four men responsible for the heist were arrested later, the ruby wasn’t recovered. 

3. When Christie's auctioned Elizabeth Taylor's entire jewellery collection in 2011, a ruby and diamond ring set with an 8.24 carat gem fetched more than $4.2 million in total that created a world auction record for the price of a ruby-per-carat. 

4. In Asian countries, rubies were once laid under the foundation of buildings as they were believed to act as “good luck charms” for the structures.

You can take a look at some of our bespoke Ruby (& other red & pink stone) commissions here: Ruby commissions.

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