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All About Rubies

Updated on December 22, 2011

The Radiant Ruby

Television commercials tell us that "diamonds are a girl's best friend," but to a color loving gal, the rich claret of a perfectly cut ruby shimmers with a luster that defies all competition.

July's traditional birthstone, the ruby is a precious stone, along with diamonds, sapphires and emeralds, and of these, are second only to diamonds on the Moh's scale of mineral hardness. The value of an individual ruby is determined primarily by color. Ruby color ranges from pink to orange red, but the deep red with undertones of blue, known as "pigeon's blood" red is the most highly prized. Clarity, size and cut also determine value as do the tiny needle-like striations found only in genuine stones, known as "silk". These striations, much like human fingerprints, are unique to each stone. Synthetic rubies, while technically flawless, lack these inclusions, which testify to a stone's authenticity.

Rubies become rubies in the presence of the chemical element chromium. The tiniest amount of chromium gives the mineral corundum (also known as aluminum oxide) its prized ruby red coloration. All non red gem quality corundum is called sapphire -- a gem traditionally thought to be blue, but which actually occurs in a wide variety of colors.

Rubies are mined in various and dissimiliar locations around the world, from Montana and the Carolinas in the United States (a 1070 carat gem quality ruby known as the Cherokee Chief was unearthed in Franklin, NC in 1993) to Afghanistan, India and Thailand. While Southeast Asia produces most of the world's rubies today, rubies have been found recently beneath Greenland and in 2009, a large deposit was located in the Republic of Mozambique, in Southeastern Africa. A large ruby is a much rarer find than a large diamond. The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Burma) has historically been the world's single largest ruby producing country.

In ancient times it was thought that rubies provided their owners with magical powers and protection. They have long been associated with blood, love, wisdom, security and health. Rubies are said to change color according to the health of their wearer, and have been credited with bringing awareness of health concerns prior to their physical manifestations.

It is not necessary to subscribe to ancient superstitions in the ruby's purported magical properties to understand why it might have been so regarded. When in the presence of a perfectly colored, expertly cut ruby of superior quality and size, the fascination is self evident, for truly this most sublime of gems speaks to the heart in a way that does no other.

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    • Sidders profile image

      Sidders 5 years ago from usa

      Wouldn't it be nice to find one of these babies in your back yard?

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 5 years ago from trailer in the country

      I love rubies...very precious.

    • samanthamayer profile image

      samanthamayer 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Ruby is my birthstone. I love it, so beautiful! Interesting history, thanks for sharing.