Hello, and welcome back to the Official Nelsen’s Fine Jewelry Birthstone Blog!
For the month of July, we will be taking a look at the one and only Ruby! Rubies are considered to be one of the 3 precious gems behind Emerald and Sapphire. Their defining characteristic of course is their blood red color that makes them almost immediately identifiable, but not to be confused with Garnet or Spinel. Rubies get their color from chromium which is a metallic element of the periodic table. Combined with Corundum (which is a crystalized form of aluminum dioxide) and you have yourself a Ruby! A ruby’s hardness on the Mohs scale sits at around a 9 out of 10 making this one of the hardest gemstones next to diamonds. All natural rubies have inclusions or color impurities that take the form of microscopic needles called “silk”. Under magnification, these inclusions are what separates natural rubies from synthetic or imitation ones.
Here we see an example of Silk, the defining term for inclusions in Rubies
Now let’s talk about where rubies originate from and where we find them today. In as early as 2500 BC, Rubies were found in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and in other parts of Southeastern Asia. Specifically, the Mogok Valley in Burma was the primary source of most of the world’s largest supply of rubies for centuries until recent years. Nowadays, most rubies are found in the Montepuez Ruby Mine in Mozambique, Africa, as well as other parts of Madagascar. Some of the largest and most valuable rubies from these mines are on display in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Pictured here is the 23 Carat Carmen Lucia Ruby on display in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington DC, USA
If you recall back in April when I wrote about Diamonds, you’ll remember the 4 C’s. This method of grading and categorizing diamonds extends to other gemstones as well. Let me break those down again here. Clarity represents the amount of present inclusions in a natural stone, while Color represents the hue, saturation, tone and overall, well, color of the stone. Cut is of course, the way in which the gemstone was cut out of the rough after polishing. Finally, we have Carat, the overall weight of the stone. This is important in terms of grading gemstones such as rubies since they share similar properties to other stones. Specifically, since red corundum is ruby, any other color exhibited be it blue or pink or white, is technically graded as a sapphire. The 4 C’s are the industry’s best friend in sorting out these different stones that are so very similar to each other.
Historically, rubies have been coveted by rulers and royalty in the fashionable jewelry worn by them. As the Mogok Mine supplied many of the gems in European Markets, rulers in England and Rome had crowns, rings and glorious pendants set with some of the finest rubies. Rubies have also proven to be an invaluable resource in the field of Science and Technology as most precision lasers use a ruby to transmit light to another surface. That’s where the red comes from in our laser pointers! Of course, they’ve since managed to perfect this technology through the use of synthetic or artificial rubies.
Here we see the Geographical location of the Mogok Ruby Mine in Myanmar, the largest supplier of Rubies in the world
According to the Natural Ruby Company, the Ruby is the stone of the Heart and the stone of Love. As such, the Ruby makes for a great stone in an engagement ring as well as an amazing gift for those born in the month of July. Here, I’ll include a link to our selection of Ruby Jewelry that we offer on our website.
Thank you for taking the time to read about Rubies this month. I look forward to next month when we can talk about Peridot!
Works cited in this article contains information from the following: