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July Birthstone: Ruby

Ruby Symbolism and Meaning

Regarded as a symbol of passion, courage and protection, rubies have been a beloved gemstone for centuries. Historical trade records indicate that rubies were prized as far back as 200 B.C. when they were traded on the North Silk Road in China.

Due to the good fortune they were thought to bring, rubies were placed beneath building foundations for extra security. Ancient Chinese and Hindu noblemen embellished their armor and harnesses with rubies before heading into battle, believing rubies would offer them protection. Similarly, the Burmese thought they carried invincible power, and warriors planted rubies into their skin before heading into battles.

Ancient Hindus offered rubies to the god Krishna because they believed it would allow them to be reborn as emperors. And the Greeks attested that the glow of the ruby had the power to melt wax.

Across countries and centuries, the ruby has been revered as a gem full of passion and power. Known as the king of precious gems, rubies remain popular in engagement, wedding and birthstone jewelry.

Ruby Color

The ruby gets its name from the Latin word “ruber,” which means red. While many rubies are royal red in hue, the gemstones range from pink like this Pear Shape ruby from James Allen to dark red like this Cushion Cut also from James Allen.

The darker end of the ruby spectrum tends to have more value in the marketplace, but some people genuinely prefer the brighter, lighter gem shades.

Rubies are composed of the red variation of mineral corundum, or aluminum oxide. The chromium gives the ruby its red pigment and glow, making an eye-catching stone. Gems of other mineral corundum variations are known as sapphires.

On the Mohs durability scale, rubies rate a 9.0, only one grade below the diamond. They are sturdy stones that are resistant during everyday wear.

Ruby Origins

For centuries, the Mogok Valley in Burma (now known as Myanmar), was the major source for rubies, particularly deep red gems with a purple tone. Since the 1990s, rubies have also been produced from Mong Hsu, Myanmar, although these stones naturally lack the deep red hue found in the Mogok Valley. Rubies from the Mong Hsu region are often treated with heat techniques to improve the color saturation.

Ruby deposits can also be found in other countries around the world, including Cambodia, Thailand, Afghanistan, Australia, Colombia, India, Japan and Brazil.

Purchasing Rubies

Since rubies are most highly regarded for their hardness and magnificent and bright color, these are the features to consider when looking at rubies to purchase. Unlike other gemstones, rubies are not graded using any certain scale or ranking system. Instead, you will want to look at a ruby’s properties in order to better rate its overall quality yourself.

If you are on a budget and are looking for a more affordable ruby birthstone option, then a natural ruby that is one carat will be best suited for your budget. Coming in at under $300, one-carat rubies still offer fair quality, but may be teetering on commercial, rather than fine.

Lab-made rubies for birthstone jewelry will also cost far less than real rubies and can often be found at as much as 90% off the price of a natural ruby that may have the same quality as the lab made ruby. Additionally, the larger the ruby, the higher the price point will reach.

When choosing a cut for ruby jewelry or a ruby birthstone, you will most often find rubies cut as ovals, cushions, marquise, or round shapes. Heart and emerald shaped options are also readily and commonly available but are in much lower demand than its other counterparts.

Next, you will look at choosing the color of the ruby you would like to purchase. While most may think of a ruby being only a red or purple reddish color, you can find ruby gemstones in other hues and saturations including pink, sapphire, and violet.

Finally, as with any gemstone purchase including a diamond purchase, you will want to see what the ruby will look like in a natural light setting, opposed to artificial light. Rubies may have something called extinctions, or noticeable black or gray patches that can be found inside the gemstone when put in bright light. You will want to move the ruby gemstone around in natural light and pay attention to these small details, so you can determine if there are any other visible problems within the gemstone.

The inclusions and blemishes can also cause a drastic price difference in rubies like it would with diamonds. If there are no inclusions, then the price, of course, will be much higher than one that has inclusions, or blemishes.

The saturation and tone of the ruby may also prove to be valuable insight to have. The saturation of the ruby simply refers to the purity and intensity of the gemstone. If you are looking at a vivid ruby, then the color will appear very rich and intense and will most likely be more valuable and higher in price.

The tone refers to just how much color is present within the gemstone. The scale for the tone of the ruby goes from dark to very light with the most valuable ruby being a more medium tone.

Fun Facts

  • The most expensive ruby ever sold was the 25.5 carat Sunrise Ruby for $30 million.
  • Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection was auctioned off in 2011 and included several ruby pieces, like a ring set containing an 8.24 Carat stone that was valued at $512,925 per Carat. A ruby-studded necklace of Taylor’s was also sold for more than $3.7 million.
  • The largest ruby in the world weighs over 40,000 Carat and is owned by a jewelry company in China.
  • The first working laser was created from ruby by Theodore Maiman in Moscow in 1960.
  • Rubies are mentioned in the Bible on four occasions, with reference to their wisdom.

Gift Ideas

For a gift of love, passion and prosperity, the ruby is a perfect choice, especially for those with July birthdays. Rubies are also a traditional gift for 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries.

A personalized jewelry piece remains a keepsake forever, and can be passed down for generations.

For a necklace or pendant, consider a ruby and diamond halo like this from Blue Nile, a floral pendant like this from Blue Nile or a ruby cluster pendant like this one from James Allen.

For a stunning pair of earrings, you may find the darker tone of these ruby studs appealing or you may prefer a lighter glow like the stones in this vintage inspired set from Blue Nile.

Bracelets come in wide varieties, like this one studded with diamonds from James Allen or this vintage style with 14K yellow gold from Blue Nile.

When it comes to rings, you have a wide range of choices:

No matter which jewelry piece you choose, an exquisite ruby is always a gift that comes from the heart.

Choosing a Setting

When you decide on a setting for your ruby birthstone jewelry, you will want to select a metal that falls in line with your individual taste and budget. However, if you are purchasing the ruby as a gift for someone else, you will want to learn what their preferences are, so you can get them the perfect gift that they will absolutely love.

If you purchase a larger ruby gemstone, then it is most fitting if you choose a prong setting in which small metal claws hold the gemstone in place. A bezel setting is a more secure way to hold the gemstone in place.

No matter which jewelry piece you choose for July birthstones, an exquisite ruby is always a gift that comes from the heart.

About the author
Michael Fried
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more.
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