Rubies, with their mesmerizing red hues and captivating allure, have enchanted humanity for centuries. As one of the most sought-after gemstones, rubies hold a special place in the world of jewelry, symbolizing love, passion, and strength. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the fascinating history of ruby gemstones, uncover their origins, learn how rubies are formed, compare their hardness to diamonds, discover the most famous rubies in the world, and unveil the essential factors to consider when choosing the best rubies. By the end of this article, you’ll feel well-informed and confident in your appreciation for the exquisite world of rubies.
The History of Ruby Gemstones
Rubies, with their fiery red brilliance, have been cherished throughout history by various cultures and civilizations. The word “ruby” derives from the Latin word “rubeus,” meaning red. Ancient cultures believed rubies held mystical properties, including protection against misfortune and enhancing courage.
Rubies were revered by Indian royalty, where they were known as “ratnaraj” or “king of precious stones.” The famous “Burmese Ruby Tiara” and the “Timur Ruby,” a historical gemstone set in the British Crown Jewels, are iconic examples of ruby’s significance in royal collections.
Where Do Most Rubies Come From
The majority of high-quality rubies originate from a few key regions, notably:
Myanmar (Burma): Renowned for producing the finest rubies with a vivid red color known as “pigeon’s blood,” Burma has long been the primary source for top-quality rubies.
Thailand: Thailand is a major hub for ruby processing and trading. Many rubies from other regions are brought to Thailand for cutting, enhancing, and distribution.
Mozambique: In recent years, Mozambique has emerged as a significant source of rubies, producing gems with beautiful red hues that rival those from Myanmar.
How Are Rubies Made
Formation: Rubies are a variety of the mineral corundum, which is an aluminum oxide. They are formed in specific geological environments under high heat and pressure, typically in marble, basalt, or granulite rock formations. The presence of chromium is responsible for the deep red color of rubies.
Heat and Pressure: The formation of rubies requires a combination of intense heat and pressure. These conditions can be found in regions where tectonic forces push rocks deep within the Earth’s crust, subjecting them to the necessary conditions for corundum to crystallize.
Magma Intrusion: In some cases, magma intrusions can create the right conditions for rubies to form. When molten rock (magma) moves through existing rock formations, it can introduce elements like chromium, which is essential for the red coloration of rubies, into the mix.
Crystallization: As the mineral-rich fluids cool down within the rock formations, the corundum crystals, including rubies, begin to form. The process of crystallization is slow and can take millions of years to produce gem-quality rubies.
Erosion and Uplift: Over time, geological forces, such as erosion and tectonic uplift, bring these rubies closer to the Earth’s surface. They can be brought to the surface through volcanic activity or the gradual wearing away of overlying rocks.
Mining: Once rubies are discovered near the surface or in gem-rich deposits, they are mined. Mining methods can vary, from traditional hand tools to modern machinery, depending on the location and accessibility of the deposit.
Cutting and Polishing: After being extracted from the earth, rough rubies are carefully cut and polished by skilled lapidaries to bring out their beauty and brilliance. The cut is a crucial factor in maximizing a ruby’s color and luster.
How Hard Are Rubies Compared to Diamonds
Rubies are durable gemstones, registering 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This places them just below diamonds, which are the hardest natural substance with a Mohs hardness of 10. While rubies are not as hard as diamonds, their durability makes them suitable for everyday wear and an excellent choice for jewelry.
The Most Famous Rubies in the World
Several rubies have achieved worldwide fame due to their exceptional size, color, and historical significance. Some of the most famous rubies include:
The Sunrise Ruby: A rare Burmese ruby weighing 25.59 carats, known for its vivid red color and extraordinary clarity. This ruby set a record for the highest price paid per carat for a ruby at an auction.
The De Long Star Ruby: A 100.32-carat star ruby, famous for its remarkable six-rayed star effect known as asterism.
The Edwardes Ruby: A stunning Burmese ruby weighing 167 carats and known for its deep red color.
The Power of Rubies in Modern Jewelry
In today’s world, rubies continue to hold a special place in modern jewelry, symbolizing not only love and passion but also making bold fashion statements. Here’s how you can incorporate the power of rubies into your jewelry collection:
Statement Pieces: Rubies, with their vibrant red color, can be the centerpiece of striking jewelry. Consider a ruby necklace, pendant, or cocktail ring that draws attention and complements both formal and casual ensembles.
Birthstone Jewelry: Rubies are the birthstone for July, making them a meaningful gift for individuals born in this month. A ruby birthstone necklace or ring serves as a personalized and cherished present.
Anniversary Gifts: Rubies are the traditional gemstone for 40th wedding anniversaries. Surprise your loved one with a ruby piece, symbolizing the enduring love and passion that has lasted for four decades.
Where to Find Exquisite Ruby Jewelry
When seeking high-quality ruby jewelry, it’s essential to source from reputable and trustworthy sellers. Here are some reliable options to consider:
Reputable Jewelry Retailers: Established jewelers with a strong reputation for quality and customer satisfaction are excellent sources for finding exquisite ruby jewelry. Look for jewelers known for their fine craftsmanship and wide selection.
Certified Online Retailers: Some reputable online retailers specialize in certified gemstones, including rubies. Choose retailers that provide detailed information about the rubies’ quality, origins, and certifications.
Specialized Gem Dealers: Consider working with dealers who specialize in high-quality gemstones, particularly rubies. These experts can provide valuable insights into the gem’s characteristics and ensure you’re making an informed purchase.
Auction Houses: Reputable auction houses occasionally feature exceptional ruby pieces with detailed descriptions and provenance. Participating in an auction can provide access to unique and high-quality items.
Rubies, with their captivating red allure and rich history, are not just gemstones; they are symbols of passion, love, and elegance. By understanding their origin, appreciating their significance, and considering essential factors when choosing rubies, you’re immersing yourself in a world of timeless beauty and profound meaning.
As you admire the deep red radiance of your ruby, let it be a constant reminder of the intense emotions it represents, the remarkable journey it has undertaken to reach you, and the enduring elegance it brings to your life. Whether adorning an engagement ring, a cherished necklace, or any other jewelry piece, your ruby gemstone carries the stories of ancient civilizations, the brilliance of nature, and the promise of cherished memories for years to come. Embrace the elegance of rubies, and let their fiery beauty be a part of your own unique story.