It's been said that a really perfect ruby is as rare as perfect love. If you do come across it, it will cost a small fortune. But when you have found 'your' ruby, don't hesitate: hang on to it!
For thousands of years, the ruby has been considered one of the most valuable gemstones on earth. It has everything a precious stone should have: magnificent colour, excellent hardness and outstanding brilliance. In addition to that, it is an extremely rare gemstone, especially in its finer qualities. A ruby is a pink to blood-red colored gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum (aluminium oxide). The red color is caused mainly by the presence of the element chromium. Its name comes from ruber, Latin for red. Ruby is considered one of the four precious stones, together with sapphire, emerald and diamond.
Some rubies display a wonderful silky shine, the so-called 'silk' of the ruby. This phenomenon is caused by very fine needles of rutile. And now and then one of the rare star rubies is found. Here too, the mineral rutile is involved; having formed a star-shaped deposit within the ruby, it causes a captivating light effect known by the experts as asterism. If rubies of this kind are cut as half-dome shaped cabochons, the result is a six-spoked star which seems to glide magically across the surface of the stone when the latter is moved.
Prices of rubies are primarily determined by color. The brightest and most valuable "red" called blood-red or "pigeon blood", commands a large premium over other rubies of similar quality. After color follows clarity: similar to diamonds, a clear stone will command a premium, but a ruby without any needle-like rutile inclusions may indicate that the stone has been treated. Cut and carat (weight) are also an important factor in determining the price. Ruby is the traditional birthstone for July and is usually more pink than garnet, although some rhodolite garnets have a similar pinkish hue to most rubies. The world's most expensive ruby is the Sunrise Ruby.
Rubies have historically been found all over the world -- from Burma and Cambodia, to Afghanistan and Brazil, and in many more areas. A few rubies have been found in the U.S. states of Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wyoming. More recently (and sadly, given the circumstances), large ruby deposits have been found under the receding ice shelf of Greenland.
For a long time, India was regarded as the ruby's classical country of origin. In the major works of Indian literature, a rich store of knowledge about gemstones has been handed down over a period of more than two thousand years. The term 'corundum', which we use today, is derived from the Sanskrit word 'kuruvinda'. The Sanskrit word for ruby is 'ratnaraj', which means something like 'king of the gemstones'. And it was a royal welcome indeed which used to be prepared for it. Whenever a particularly beautiful ruby crystal was found, the ruler sent high dignitaries out to meet the precious gemstone and welcome it in appropriate style.
Rubies have been held in high esteem elsewhere as well. In the Bible - Job 28:18 and Proverbs 3:15, wisdom is said to be even more valuable than rubies. In Proverbs 31:10, a wife of noble character is proclaimed as worth more than rubies. And rubies have always been held in high esteem in Asian countries. They were used to ornament armor, scabbards, and harnesses of noblemen in India and China. Rubies were laid beneath the foundation of buildings to secure good fortune to the structure.
If you haven't considered working with rubies before, it may be because of the cost factor. But if you want to splurge sometime, you can usually find good prices and good quality at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, and occasionally online -- Etsy.com is a good source, as is J-Beads.com. We have only acquired a few, and have kept them for our own use and personal delight, but someday we'd like to be able to sell them, or sell some ruby bead creations.
Shown in this post are a couple of stunning examples of ruby beads and necklaces from pansarijewels on Etsy -- just to get you thinking (or at least drooling)... I also saw some nice specimens at gemsforjewels and rocksamillion on Etsy.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy our previous post on The Crown Jewels.
Until Next Time,