July Birthstone

Ruby from Africa

Ruby is the red variety of corundum, the second hardest natural mineral known to mankind. Gem corundum of any color is referred to as sapphire with a preceding color designation if the color is any other than blue. Blue corundum is simply called sapphire. There are two other color varieties of corundum that have specific names, the pinkish-red to red ruby and the orange-ish-pink padparadscha. 

The famous pinkish-red to red ruby owes its color to chromium (Cr3 ) impurities, and the color of the rare orange-ish-pink padparadscha sapphire is from both iron and chromium impurities. 

The name corundum was derived either from the Sanskrit kurivinda or from the Indian name for corundum kauruntaka. Ruby is from the Latin word ruber meaning red. 

Oriented rutile crystal inclusions cause a six-rayed-star light effect (called asterism) to form the popular Star Ruby.

Natural Star Ruby Crystal, Sri Lanka

Imperfections and impurities may be removed by controlled heating of the gemstones. Some rubies have fissures or surface breaks that are filled with a glass-like byproduct of the heating process. 

The brightest red and thus most valuable rubies are usually from Burma. Violet red, sometimes quite dark, rubies come principally from Thailand. This is today's main source of rubies. Small quantities of rubies also come from Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Pakistan, India, and even Tanzania. Rubies have long been cherished among the world's most beautiful and valuable gems. The hardest mineral after diamond, and because of its brittleness, requires care when cutting. There are so few unflawed Rubies in sizes larger than 5 carats, that anything larger is more valuable than even a Diamond of equal quality and size.

Because of its high specific gravity rubies that come from alluvial sources such as Sri Lanka and Burma are collected in a deep cone-like separator. Gravel and water are placed in the cone and the cone is rotated. Minerals with low specific gravity such as quartz, mica and calcite wash out of the cone as it is rotated. The miner will finish with an
aggregate of higher specific gravity minerals near the vertex of the cone. If the miner is fortunate, a few of these stones might prove to be rubies. Red spinel may also be included in these heavy minerals but they are easily separated from ruby by both physical and optical properties.

Ruby sphere that was mined in India
Color is the most important character of a ruby when it comes to a jeweler properly representing the stone. All rubies must be shades of red, orange- red, or purple red. There is no such thing as a pink ruby. By definition pink corundum is a sapphire. There are standard color sets such as those manufactured by Pantone TM that will guide one in determining where rubies leave off and where sapphires begin so far as color is concerned. 

In earlier times the flux fusion process made all of the synthetic rubies where powdered aluminum was passed through a very hot gas flame. The Aluminum melted and combined with Oxygen to produce synthetic corundum. These stones all had curved growth lines, gas bubbles and flecks of aluminum powder in them. They were easy to spot. Such is not the case now. There are some synthetic (now called created) rubies that are grown in bombs or crucibles of various kinds that are much more difficult to detect. Diffusion treatment may impart a red to colorless or pale corundum. A synthetic ruby is nearly identical to the natural gem in physical appearance, chemical composition and optical properties and can easily be confused with genuine ruby by unknowledgeable buyers. Only a trained geologist can tell the difference by locating telltale inclusions in the stone. 

Variety of: Corundum 
Chemical Composition: Al2O3 Aluminum Oxide
Hardness: 9

Rosser Reeves Star Ruby Origin: Sri Lanka from the Smithsonian Institute Chip Clark, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Ruby has been the world's most valued gemstone for thousands of years. In the ancient language of Sanskrit, ruby is called "ratnaraj" or "king of precious stones", and ratnanayaka or "leader of precious stones".

The ruby mines of Myanmar are older than history. Stone Age and Bronze Age mining tools have been found in the mining area of Mogok.

The gold coronation ring of the English kings contains a large, tablet-cut ruby on which the figure of St. George's cross is engraved. Around the ruby are set 26 diamonds. Rubies are generously represented in crowns and scepters in the royal jewels of many nations. 

Uncut Corundum Origin: Mogok, Burma from the Smithsonian Institute Chip Clark, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
The Louvre in Paris houses the Anne of Brittany Ruby, a 105-carat polished but irregular gem. John Ruskin donated the 167-carat Edwardes Ruby to the British Museum of Natural History in 1887. This 167-carat gem was named in honor of Major-General Sir Herbert Benjamin Edwardes (1819-68) who saved British rule in India during the years of the Indian Mutiny. Two star rubies are displayed in American museums. The Smithsonian displays the 137-carat Rosser Reeves Ruby, and The American Museum of Natural History has the 100-carat Edith Haggin de Long Ruby. 

Ruby was the first mineral to be produced by commercial Gem synthesis and dates to the 1880's. Many customers have brought family heirlooms for insurance only to be told that their "Gem" is not a natural stone.

The Midnight Star Ruby This 116.75-carat deep purplish-red star ruby is part of the New York Museum of Natural History's collection
The Burmese believed that "blazing red" stones could be found in a "bottomless" valley. Natives threw pieces of meat into the valley hoping that some stones would cling to the meat and would be eaten by vultures. The stones could then be recovered by killing the vultures. 

The legend connected with Ruby is that the wearer was blessed with health, wealth, and wisdom, as well as enormous success in affairs of the heart.

"The price of wisdom is above rubies", says Job in the Bible.

Ruby was said to preserve health and invulnerability from wounds, and to guarantee that one's status and possessions would never be taken. The wearing of a ruby was said to signify manhood, nobility and valor in a man, and pride & passion in a woman. 

Ground rubies were used as a remedy for stomach ailments.

Ruby has also been connected to dragons. Legends tell of dragons guarding Ruby and Emerald mines and others of dragons with brilliant Rubies in their heads illuminating the countryside!

Ruby crystals in matrix from Afghanistan
courtesy of Dave's Down To Earth Rock Shop
Because of their color, shades of red, rubies are said to be very healing. Physical wounds, blood disorders, as well as emotional and spiritual wounds can be healed with the ruby. As a tool for meditation, rubies are extremely powerful for healing chakras (especially the first chakra), and for bringing to us the love of the god/s of our hearts. 

The ruby has inspired passion and romance for centuries. It has the power to stimulate sexual desire and energy. (I guess I am jaded when I think that giving a gift of a ruby insures that the person receiving the ruby will put out sexually. This seems to be the case with diamonds as well.) In the least, rubies are said to bring out the passions of the wearer. Rubies were thought to attract and maintain love and friendship. 

Also the color of blood, ruby has come to symbolize courage and bravery. As a talisman, ruby will warn its owner against danger and disaster. 

Rubies, like emeralds and malachite, are stones of wealth and fortune. They can be used to manifest abundance, and bring riches to its wearer. But, because rubies are red, this also means that the riches can be love.

Ruby-in-Zoisite from Madagascar
courtesy of Dave's Down To Earth Rock Shop

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