Ruby is derived from the Latin “ruber,” meaning “red” –the color of passion. In the ancient language of Sanskrit, ruby is called “ratnaraj,” or “king of gems.”
Ruby is the most valuable variety of the corundum mineral species, which also includes sapphire, and it is the birthstone for July as well as the gemstone that celebrates the 15th and 40th anniversaries.
Ruby is one of the most historically significant colored stones. Rubies are mentioned four times in the Bible, in association with attributes like beauty and wisdom.
In the ancient language of Sanskrit, ruby is called ratnaraj, or “king of precious stones.” Ruby has accumulated a host of legends over the centuries.
Ancient Hindus believed that those who offered fine rubies to the god Krishna were granted rebirth as emperors. while, people in India believed that rubies enabled their owners to live in peace with their enemies.
Ruby retained its importance with the birth of the western world and became one of the most sought-after gems of European royalty and the upper classes. Many medieval Europeans wore rubies to guarantee health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love.
Ruby is harder than any natural gemstone except diamond, which means a ruby is durable enough for everyday wear.
Fine-quality ruby is extremely rare, and the color of the gem is most important to its value. The most prized color is a medium or medium dark vivid red or slightly purplish red.
If the gem is too light or has too much purple or orange, it will be called a fancy-color sapphire. Traces of chromium give this red variety of the mineral corundum its rich color.
The strength of ruby’s red depends on how much chromium is present—the more chromium, the stronger the red color. Chromium can also cause fluorescence, which adds to the intensity of the red color.
The most valuable rubies come from Burma, now known as Myanmar. The region famed for the very finest rubies is the Mogok Valley, located about 200 km northeast of Mandalay in north-central Burma.
It is believed that ruby mining here has been active for more than a thousand years, and this is the source of the rare “pigeon’s blood” ruby.
The best Burmese rubies have high color intensity and a fluorescent quality where the gem actually appears to glow. Some very fine specimens also have a velvety softness due to tiny inclusions of rutile that are known as “silk” in the trade.
The majority of all rubies are heated at the mine. They may also be treated with a lead glass-like filling. All treatments should always be disclosed.
Rubies are tough and durable, so they do not require any special care. To clean your rubies, simply use warm soapy water and a soft toothbrush. Fracture-filled and diffusion-treated gemstones should only be cleaned with a damp cloth.
As with most gemstones, ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are not recommended. Always remove any jewellery or gemstones before exercising, cleaning or engaging in harsh physical activities such as sport.
Do not expose rubies to acid and store rubies away from other gemstones to avoid scratches. It is best to wrap gemstones in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewellery box.
Desire for ruby is just as great today as it always has been. As a symbol of passion, ruby makes an ideal romantic gift. Consumers are drawn to the lush color because it also signifies wealth and success.
Should you have any additional questions about this or any other jewellery related topics, you can always: “Ask the Jeweller”
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