Throughout history, rubies have been seen as some of the most coveted gems. It is easy to see why. The rich red of the ruby birthstone gives it connotations of passion, anger and eternal love.
The Meaning and History of Ruby
The eye-catching colour of the ruby is the source for its rich history. The name “ruby” comes from the Latin “Rubeus” meaning red. It is also called the “king of precious stones” from the Sanskrit for ruby, “Ratnaraj”.
The first rubies discovered were in 2500B.C. in Mogok. The largest of rubies mined here were brought straight to the ruler of Burma. Rubies symbolised good luck. A black spot would appear on the ruby to warn the wearer of evil, disappearing when the evil had passed.
In ancient India, rubies were a symbol of power and energy. Indian folklore also says rubies could help the owner to resist anger and live in peace with their enemies. They believed, if offered to gods at temples, rubies would grant eternal life or rebirth as an emperor. In the bible, rubies are associated with beauty and wisdom. In 8th century Arabia, dreams about rubies indicated happiness. If a king dreamt of a crown with rubies, it would mean he will have increased fortune and would make his enemies fear him even more. Rubies were also used as foundations for buildings to bring prosperity to residents.
It is no wonder this blood-red gem is linked to life and health. Ancient Burmese warriors believed rubies made them invincible. Convinced they would be safe from wounds, they inserted rubies under their skin to protect them in battle. Protection from evil is even one of the reasons behind Dorothy’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz.
During the middle ages, European royals idolised rubies. King Louis XIV would pay an explorer in directly gold for rubies collected from India. As trade routes were established, interest in rubies increased. At this time, they were seen as symbols of victory in various conflicts.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that ruby was classed as different from other red stones like garnet, the January birthstone, and tourmaline. As details of how they are made became clearer at this time, they became popular in the West due to their sudden rarity. Today, rubies are still some of the most prized jewels and associated with royalty. One of the largest rubies is the Burmese Ruby Tiara made for Queen Elizabeth.
Where does Ruby come from?
Most ruby gems are found in Asia. The Mogok Valley in modern day Myanmar is one of the most famous locations. Burmese rubies are known for their distinct colour. The most desirable colour, a deep red with a slight blue, is known as pigeon-blood red. Rubies with this colour are also called star rubies. They can also be found in Thailand, India, Pakistan, and Vietnam as well as Madagascar and the United States. The ruby is one of the rarest to find in nature as the elements silica and iron, which are very common in the earth’s crust, prevent rubies from forming.
The Properties of Ruby
Two of the coloured precious stones, rubies and sapphires are made from the same mineral: corundum, a crystal of alumina and oxygen. Ruby is red due to chromium. This element also makes the jewel subject to cracks and fissures, so most rubies are small. It is a 9 on the Mohs scale for gem hardness, second only to diamonds. Though they are made from the same corundum as other gems, rubies are rear as the conditions to create the red colour are scarce. Larger rubies are even more rare than similar sized diamonds.
Ruby – the July Birthstone
Ruby is the most common birthstone associated with July. Ruby’s associations with fire and heat make it the perfect birthstone for the summer month. Principally, it is associated with the Zodiac sign Cancer. Ruby has some competition from the birthstone onyx, which is also associated with July, in particular, with the Leo sign. Being red, it signifies love, and is a traditional gift for 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries.
Mystical properties of Ruby
In the Middle Ages, gems carved with images were thought to increase good in the world and give the owner joy and health. They also helped control evil, restrain anger and resist poison. Rubies with a lighter colour were considered female, and darker coloured rubies were male. It is said to stimulate the life-force energy and bring a sense of power and motivation to the wearer. The base chakra and the heart chakra are best represented by the ruby, instilling passion, joy and spontaneity in the wearer.
Interesting facts about Ruby
- Ruby is one of the four precious gemstones, along with diamond, sapphire and emerald.
- Rubies are associated with fire because the chromium contains fluorescence, which makes them glow when light hits them.
- Almost all natural rubies contain flaws and impurities. Rubies without these are even more rare.
- “The Black Prince’s Ruby”, a British Royal Family possession since 1367, was found out to be a 170-carat red spinel, not a ruby, only in the late 18th century.
- Elizabeth Taylor’s 8.24-carat ruby ring was sold for $4.2 million in 2011.
Caring for your Ruby
Your ruby may start to look faded or cloudy because dirt can easily build up on the hard surface. So, lotions and perfumes should be kept away. To clean it, use mild liquid soap and warm water with a soft toothbrush or a soft cloth. Rubies are resistant to everyday wear, heat and light. Though, like any birthstone, it may crack from a blunt impact. And be careful to store them apart from other jewellery pieces as they may scratch softer gemstones.
Where to buy Ruby Jewellery
Rubies are often used in love jewellery, being red and durable enough to last a lifetime. They are very versatile as the colour complements both light and dark facial tones. Pairing rubies with an outfit in neutral tones will make the red stand out. You can discover our collection of ruby jewellery here.