July’s Birthstone- Ruby

Introduction to Ruby: The July Birthstone

Brief History and Significance

With Ruby's deep red hue reminiscent of the heart, it has captivated the human imagination for centuries, embodying passion, protection, and prosperity. Revered in many cultures throughout history, this gemstone symbolizes power and youthful energy in Eastern and Western civilizations. Historically, royalty and high priests held Rubies in high esteem, believed to offer protection in battle and wisdom in governance. Ancient traders from the Silk Road brought these precious stones from the mines of Myanmar (formerly Burma). This region has produced some of the world's most spectacular rubies, which were brought to the courts of Europe and Asia, where they quickly became prized possessions.

Rubies are mentioned in the Bible, symbolizing beauty and wisdom. In Hinduism, the RRuby(or "Ratnaraj," meaning the king of gems in Sanskrit) is the most precious gemstone created by the God of fire. Across different epochs and cultures, the Rubyhas have been a talisman of peace, a promise of a safe journey and return, and a guide to wise decisions. The Ruby's significance extends beyond mere ornamentation; it is a stone rich in history, steeped in myth, and imbued with powerful symbolism.

Why Ruby is Associated with July

The association of Ruby with July can be traced back to ancient times when gemstones were connected to the zodiac and the months related to it. Rubies are linked to July through historical lore and the ancient practice of astrology. In ancient times, each month was assigned a gemstone with special significance and powers for those born within its span. This tradition has continued into modern times with the current system of birthstones, which aligns the Ruby with July.

The fiery red color of Rubies evokes the heat of summer, making it a fitting symbol for July. Red also represents passion and vitality, which are in full bloom during summer. Furthermore, the RRubyis is said to represent love and passion, making it not only a symbol of the physical warmth of summer but also of the warmth of human emotions.

Astrologically, the Ruby is associated with the sun, which reaches its highest point in the sky during July in the Northern Hemisphere. This celestial alignment underscores Ruby's significance as a symbol of light, guiding the wearer towards joy, enlightenment, and the courage to follow their heart. It is believed that wearing a Ruby in July amplifies its benefits, bringing good fortune and strong, positive emotions to the wearer.

The Science and Mystique of Rubies

Rubies have fascinated humanity for their beauty and the remarkable science and lore that envelop them. A closer look at their geological formation, the places they are found, and their unique properties reveal why these gems have remained so coveted throughout history.

Geological Formation

Rubies are formed under specific conditions within the Earth's crust, taking millions of years. They are a variety of corundum, an aluminum oxide mineral, and owe their characteristic red color to traces of chromium. Chromium is crucial; without it, the gemstone would be a sapphire, another form of corundum, which can come in various colors but not red.

The formation of rubies begins in metamorphic rocks (such as marble) or basalt, a type of volcanic rock. The necessary elements must be present in the right proportions, and then, over millions of years, heat and pressure cause the crystals to grow. The finest rubies form in marble, as the lack of iron in this environment allows them to develop a more intense red color. This slow and complex process contributes to the rarity and value of rubies.

Geographic Locations

Rubies are found in a handful of locations across the globe, each producing stones with unique characteristics. The most famed rubies historically come from Myanmar (formerly Burma), specifically from the Mogok Valley, which has produced rubies with a deep, pigeon blood-red color that is highly prized. Myanmar rubies are renowned for their superior quality and hue, but political and ethical issues have recently complicated their acquisition and distribution.

Other significant sources include Thailand, which is known for its rubies, which have a darker, more brownish hue due to their higher iron content. Sri Lanka produces a variety of corundum stones, including rubies that tend to be lighter in color. Madagascar, Mozambique, and Tanzania are relatively new but essential sources of rubies in the global market, offering stones that rival traditional sources' quality. Vietnam and Afghanistan are also notable for high-quality rubies.

Physical and Chemical Properties

The rRuby'sallure is not just skin deep; its physical and chemical properties are equally fascinating. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, rubies score a 9, making them the second hardest natural gemstone after diamonds. This hardness makes them highly durable and suitable for everyday wear, especially in rings and other types of jewelry prone to knocks and scratches.

Chemically, rubies are comprised of aluminum oxide (Al2O3) and owe their red color to trace amounts of chromium (Cr). The amount and distribution of chromium can affect the intensity and hue of the red color, while the presence of other elements, like iron, can darken and desaturate the color. Rubies can also exhibit fluorescence under ultraviolet light, enhancing their color and making them appear more vibrant in sunlight.

The combination of these geological, geographical, and physical attributes underscores the value and desirability of rubies and adds to the mystique surrounding these captivating gemstones. Understanding the science behind their beauty enhances our appreciation for rubies, making them not just adornments but symbols of the Earth's wondrous capacity to create natural art.

Symbolism and Historical Significance

The allure of rubies extends far beyond their physical beauty, as they are imbued with deep symbolism and historical significance. These gemstones have been revered across various cultures for their supposed metaphysical properties and have adorned royal regalia and artifacts throughout history, symbolizing nobility, passion, and protection.

Ancient Lore and Cultural Beliefs Surrounding Rubies

In ancient times, rubies were considered the most precious of the 12 stones created by God. Their fiery red color was thought to represent the blood flowing through the human body, symbolizing life force and vitality. Many cultures believed that rubies held the power to predict danger and protect their wearer from misfortune and ill health. In Hindu culture, rubies were revered as the "Ratnaraj" or the "King of Precious Stones" and were believed to protect their owners from evil spirits.

The Burmese warriors held rubies in high esteem, embedding them into their flesh to make themselves invincible in battle. Similarly, ancient legends suggest that the Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan once offered an entire city in exchange for a sizable ruby, underscoring the stone's perceived value and power beyond its physical beauty.

In medieval Europe, rubies were thought to bring peace, drive away terrible thoughts, resolve disputes, and protect against sorcery. They were also believed to ensure good health, for if worn on the left side of the body, they would supposedly detoxify the blood and ward off plague and pestilence.

Rubies in Royal Crowns and Artifacts

The historical significance of rubies is most evident in their prominent inclusion in monarchies' crowns, scepters, and regalia worldwide. These gemstones were chosen not just for their beauty but also for their symbolism of power, wealth, and protection.

One of the most famous rubies is the "Black Prince's Ruby," set in the Imperial State Crown of England. This gemstone is a large red spinel. It has a storied history, including being worn by Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Its inclusion in the crown symbolizes the English monarchy's strength and fortitude.

The "Timur Ruby," now in possession of the British royal family, is another notable gemstone inscribed with the names of the Mughal emperors who once owned it. Like the Black Prince's Ruby, it is a spinel, reflecting historical confusion between red spinels and rubies. This gemstone's journey through history underscores the deep fascination and reverence that rubies (and their look-alikes) have inspired across cultures and eras.

The royal regalia and utensils in Thailand are adorned with rubies, symbolizing the sun and astrological significance in Thai culture. The Ruby Room in the Green Vault of Dresden, Germany, contains a magnificent collection of ruby-decorated artifacts, showcasing the gemstone's enduring appeal in European art and culture.

The symbolism and historical significance of rubies testify to their enduring legacy as more than just objects of beauty. They are steeped in lore and tradition, representing the highest ideals of nobility, bravery, and passion across cultures and centuries.

The Value and Rarity of Rubies

Rubies, with their mesmerizing red hue, are among the most valuable gemstones in the world, coveted for their beauty, rarity, and the lore surrounding them. The value of a ruby is determined by a combination of factors, including color, clarity, cut, and carat weight, each playing a crucial role in its overall appeal and market worth. Alongside these, the provenance of a ruby can also significantly affect its value, with stones from specific locales being particularly prized.

Factors Affecting the Value of Rubies

Color: Color is the most critical factor in determining a ruby's value. The most sought-after rubies display a vibrant, deep red called "pigeon's blood." The color should be light enough to be considered of the highest quality. The presence of purple can enhance the richness of the red, while orange or brown hues can decrease the stone's value.

Clarity: While rubies rarely achieve the clarity of diamonds, those with fewer inclusions (internal flaws) are more valuable. However, some inclusions are tolerated and even expected in rubies, as they can prove the stone's authenticity. Inclusions that do not significantly affect the gem's transparency or brilliance can increase its value by adding uniqueness without detracting from its beauty.

Cut: A ruby's cut is essential not only for its shape but also for enhancing the gemstone's color and brilliance. A well-executed cut can maximize the stone's light reflection and make the color appear more saturated. Due to their rarity, rubies are often cut into shapes that conserve as much of the original crystal as possible.

Carat: Like all gemstones, the size of a ruby significantly affects its value, with prices rising exponentially with carat weight. Large rubies of exceptional quality are scarce and fetch astronomical prices in the market.

The Most Famous Rubies in the World

Some rubies have achieved legendary status, known not just for their exceptional quality but also for their fascinating histories.

The Sunrise Ruby: This stunning 25.59-carat Burmese ruby is the most expensive ever sold at auction. It fetched over $30 million in 2015, astounding gemstone connoisseurs with its superb pigeon blood color and exceptional clarity.

The Mogok Ruby: Also known as the "King of Rubies," this gemstone is famed for its perfect color and has become a benchmark against which other rubies are measured. It was discovered in the Mogok Valley in Myanmar, synonymous with the finest rubies.

The Elizabeth Taylor Ruby: Part of the legendary actress's renowned jewelry collection, this Ruby is set in a ring that Richard Burton gave her in 1968. It's an 8.24-carat stone known for its vibrant color and impeccable clarity, and it sold for over $4 million in 2011, setting a per-carat price record at the time.

The Liberty Bell Ruby: The largest mined Ruby in the world, it was sculpted into a miniature form of the Liberty Bell and adorned with diamonds. Stolen in a heist in 2011, its value is not just in its size but also in its unique cultural significance and craftsmanship.

The Neelanjali Ruby: Weighing an astonishing 1,370 carats, the Neelanjali Ruby is celebrated for its dual colors, showcasing both dark and light shades of red. It holds the record for being the largest double-star Ruby in the world.

Choosing the Perfect Ruby

Selecting a ruby, whether for personal enjoyment or as a gift, is an exciting journey into the world of gemstones. Rubies are among the most coveted jewels with their deep red hues. Knowing what to look for in quality and how to care for these gems can ensure your rRubyremains a cherished piece for generations.

Tips for Selecting Quality Ruby Jewelry

Prioritize Color: A ruby's color is its most defining feature. Look for a vibrant, rich red with a hint of blue or purple. The most prized rubies are those with a deep, saturated color often described as "pigeon's blood." However, personal preference should also guide your choice; some may prefer a lighter, more pinkish hue.

Consider Clarity: While finding a ruby without any inclusions is rare, those with minimal visible inclusions are more valuable. However, some inclusions are acceptable and can contribute to the gem's uniqueness without significantly affecting its beauty.

Evaluate the Cut: A well-cut ruby will exhibit maximum brilliance and an even color distribution. The cut should enhance the stone's best attributes without sacrificing too much carat weight. Traditional shapes like ovals and cushions are popular, but the cut choice is also a matter of personal taste.

Understand the Carat Weight: Larger rubies are rare and, therefore, more expensive. Decide on the carat weight based on your budget and the type of jewelry you're considering. Remember, the value of a ruby increases significantly with size, especially for stones over one carat.

Ask About Treatments: Many rubies undergo treatments to enhance color and clarity. Heat treatment is common and generally accepted if it improves the gem's appearance without using additional substances. Be wary of stones treated with fillers or dyes, as these can affect the rRuby's durability and long-term value. Always ask for a gemstone certificate from a reputable laboratory if possible.

Setting and Metal: The metal and design of the setting can complement the Ruby and enhance its overall appearance. High-quality gold, platinum, and other durable metals are excellent choices. The setting should secure the Ruby safely while allowing it to shine.

Caring for Ruby Jewelry

Cleaning: Rubies can be cleaned with warm, soapy water and a soft brush. Avoid harsh chemicals or ultrasonic cleaners if the Ruby has fractured or has been filled.

Storage: To avoid scratches, store your ruby jewelry separately from other pieces. An ideal storage solution is a fabric-lined jewelry box with compartments or individual pouches.

Regular Checks: Have a professional check your ruby jewelry periodically for any loose settings or damage. This is particularly important for rings, which are more prone to wear and tear.

Wearing: Although rubies are durable, it's wise to remove ruby jewelry during activities that might subject it to hard knocks or harsh chemicals, such as gardening, cleaning, or swimming in chlorinated water.

Professional Maintenance: Consider occasionally having your Ruby professionally cleaned and polished to maintain its brilliance and inspect it for necessary repairs.

Final Thoughts

Rubies, with their deep red brilliance, have been revered throughout history for their beauty, rarity, and the profound symbolism they carry. As the birthstone for July, rubies are celebrated for their physical allure and significance in various cultures and traditions. Representing passion, protection, and prosperity, rubies have adorned the regalia of royalty, embellished the finest jewelry, and have been cherished as talismans of good fortune.

The journey of selecting a ruby, from understanding its geological origins and appreciating its rich color to recognizing its historical significance and ensuring its care, is as rewarding as it is fascinating. The allure of rubies lies in their unique combination of beauty, durability, and the deep emotional resonance they carry. These gemstones are not merely ornamental but are imbued with meanings that transcend their physical attributes, making them a powerful symbol of life's most intense passions and achievements.

As we have explored, the value of a ruby is determined by a constellation of factors, including its color, clarity, cut, and carat weight, with color being the most critical. The journey to finding the perfect Ruby is intimate, where personal taste and the gemstone's characteristics converge to create something extraordinary. Whether set in a ring, pendant, or bracelet, ruby jewelry is more than an accessory; it is a statement of elegance, a mark of achievement, and a personal talisman.

I encourage you to explore the world of ruby jewelry, whether you are celebrating a July birthday, marking a special occasion, or being drawn to the allure of this magnificent gemstone. Owning a piece of ruby jewelry is an investment in a beautiful object and an embrace of these stones' history, mystery, and emotional depth. Let the journey to finding your perfect rRubybe guide you through the gemstone's physical beauty and its stories and symbolism. In every facet, a ruby reflects the light that falls upon it and the life and passion of those who wear it.

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