On my coffee table lies Joanna Hardy’s book Ruby which should hardly come as a surprise. Whether it was rubies from the Al Thani collection or commercial rough, I have always been fascinated with rubies. When you look at rubies, it almost feels like the stone is glowing crimson from within. A glow so alluring, that it is definitely easy to feel enchanted by it.
Ruby is the birthstone for July. Both rubies and sapphires are gems of the mineral corundum; all colours of the rainbow occur in this family of gemstones and are called sapphires apart from when the presence of chromium causes the beautiful vivid red colour for ruby.
The name Ruby comes from the Latin ‘ruber’ meaning red, but due to its rarity its very name inherently means ‘precious’. Indeed it is one of the most expensive gemstones as it rarer to find in exceptional quality.
The very finest rubies in the world are Burmese, these have a deep blood-red hue with a tinge of blue. These rubies are very rare though, so Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and parts of Africa are also important sources. It is very much a personal preference as rubies colour that may shade towards pink and purple, but all good quality of rubies should have vibrant pure colour.
In the trade there is a fine distinction between pink sapphires and rubies. The colour difference isn’t much. However, there is a huge price variation for a ruby and a pink sapphire. For a ruby to be called ruby and not pink sapphire, the dominant hue of the gemstone must be red. The most revered colour is often described as ‘pigeon’s blood’, but ultimately, it depends on the perception and taste of the viewer.
Almost all rubies in the market are heat treated. They are heat treated to improve their colour and enhance their appearance. This practice is acceptable as it is permanent and stable. However, untreated rubies are very rare and command higher prices.
Rubies are a very hard gemstone measuring 9 on Moh’s hardness scale, as second only to diamonds they are ideal for everyday wear. First mentioned in the bible they are said to shield against negative energy and promote strength, courage and joy. In Indian culture they are worshiped as the gemstone of the sun. Ancient Hindus also believed that whoever offered rubies to lord Krishna, would be reincarnated as emperors. With the colour red, we think of fire, it is the colour of seduction, danger and adventure. In this Edwardian target ring, we see that cupids arrow has struck the bullseye and the (lucky!) wearer is the victim of passionate love.
Rubies have been known as the stone of kings, but have been celebrated and loved for centuries. But did you know the ‘Princes Ruby in the Imperial State Crown is in fact a spinel?!
Rubies are also my fiancé Phil’s favourite gemstone, he says “I love the intensity of the colour, when you see a really good stone with a deep saturation of colour that really sings, they immediately appeal to me”
With this in mind I do have my eye on this particular beautiful oval cluster ring. I have dropped several rather unsubtle hints so you never know. I just might have to wait. However, rubies are the also the gemstone of 40th wedding anniversary, so watch this space everyone…