July’s birthstone is among the most highly prized of gemstones. Large rubies are more difficult to find than large diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. Therefore, rubies’ value increases with size more than any other gemstone.
The ruby - along with its close relative, the sapphire - is a form of the mineral corundum that is generally drab and grey in color. Red gemstone corundum is called ruby. All the other gemstone corundum colors – orange, yellow, brown, green, blue, purple, violet, black, and colorless – are called sapphires.
The Mogok valley of Upper Burma is famous for being the source for the finest and rarest rubies of all. Another major source of rubies is Thailand, well-known for dark, brownish-red rubies. Both Thailand and Burma regard the ruby as their national stone.
According to ancient Eastern legends, in the Orient, rubies were once thought to contain the spark of life – "a deep drop of the heart’s blood of Mother Earth". Also, ancient Asian stories tell that the ruby was self-luminous – they actually called it "glowing stone" or "lamp stone".
In the Middle Ages, people believed that rubies bring good health, as well as guard against wicked thoughts, amorous desires, and disputes.
There are other very interesting facts as well about rubies, so take a look at the following:
- Rubies are found in shades of red, from rich darkish red to pigeon blood red and pinkish red. The red hue comes from traces of the mineral chromium.
- The word ruby comes from the Latin "rubens" which means red.
- Ruby is a traditional gift for those celebrating 15th or 40th anniversaries.
- Rubies are very strong, registering 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness. They are as resilient as sapphires and just slightly softer than diamonds.
- The most precious rubies are those with a full, rich red color with only a hint of blue tones. Initially, the finest rubies were mined in Myanmar and it is from there that the term Burmese ruby began to describe the finest rubies.
- Nearly all rubies have flaws. Rubies without imperfections are extremely rare and command prices even higher than diamonds of a similar weight and quality.
- The world's largest ruby is owned by a Chinese jewelry company. It weighs 8184 g (40920 Carat) and measures 5.11 x 5.43 x 5.70 inches.
- Rubies, because of their brilliant red hues, are frequently related to themes concerning the essence and vibrancy of life. If there is one gemstone that represents the passion of love, then that’s the ruby.
- Nearly all natural rubies are treated to improve their color and strengthen them. This is standard practice in the jewelry industry and is accepted by the American Gem Trade Association and Israel-Diamonds.
- Synthetic "flame-fusion" rubies hit the commercial market in the late 1800's. Chemist Auguste Verneuil perfected this method and had his ruby material shown at the Paris World's Fair in 1900.
- There are certain famous rubies, which include the "Rosser Reeves Star Ruby", the "Edwardes Ruby", and the "De Long Star Ruby".
- The most expensive ruby ever sold was the "Hope Ruby" which weighs 32.08 carats and sold for $6.74 million.
- It seems, throughout history, ruby has been and remains to be one of the most sought after gems in the world.
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