“The glowing ruby shall adorn,
Those who in July are born;
Then they’ll be exempt and free
From love’s doubts and anxiety.”
July hosts one of the most beautiful, rich and famous gemstones, the Ruby, to celebrate the July birthday. Named from the Latin word rubens meaning red, and known for centuries as “The King of Gems”, today it is usually considered to represent love and passion.
Ruby is one of the most well-known and versatile gems and can be found in many different jewellery pieces and more. Best known by its deep red colour, the Ruby is second only to diamond and moissanite in durability and hardness. Rubies are incredibly hard, only slightly softer than diamonds. Rubies are safe to wear every day because of this, and are perfect for engagements rings, too.
In fact, Ruby is actually a variety of the same type of mineral as sapphire – the difference between them is colour. Rubies are exclusively red, but sapphires can be blue, pink, purple, orange, yellow, green – any colour except red. The distinct red colour comes from the chemical element Chromium.
To be considered a ruby, and not a (pink) sapphire, there is a certain amount of colour required in the ruby. The colour is divided into three distinct elements:
- Hue - this refers to the colour in the most common sense of the word (such as the famous red hue and the 'purest form' of the colour).
- Tone - the shade of the stone (deeper red tones).
- Saturation - the intensity of the hue or colour (or how close it is to a 'pure red' or the pinkish colour).
If the saturation reaches a particular point, then the stone moves from being classed as a pink sapphire into a ruby.
Rubies are one of the highest valued for coloured gemstones. In fact, it’s been known for large rubies to fetch a higher price than a diamond. Unlike diamonds, rubies are nearly all flawed so to find one with no imperfections means a price higher than a diamond of similar weight or quality.
Some rubies are heat treated in order to enhance their natural colour and make them more desirable. Many of these treatments can hide the impurity and imperfections very well to the naked eye. However, many jewellers can easily identify the unnatural occurrences made to create these enhancements with their jeweller’s loupe.
Rubies are some of the most synthetic or imitated gems in the industry. This is most likely a cause of their demand and value throughout history. The first synthetic rubies were created in the early 1800's and were not truly mass-produced until the early 1900's. The uses of these artificial rubies are for both technological, like lasers, to gemmological purposes that we may use.
Imitation rubies have been around for centuries, although they are not synthetic or lab made, they have been tried to be passed off as rubies. This was seen in as early as 17th Century Rome, where red coloured foil was put under another stone to create the red colour. More modern forms of imitation are trying to pass red spinels, garnets, rubellite (red tourmaline) and coloured glass as rubies.
Rubies are linked to vibrancy and life because of their colour and ancient folklore. Some countries believe rubies enable you to live at peace with your enemies, and with other beliefs that rubies guarantee wealth, success, love and more, the ruby has become a staple of our society. Whether used for the purposes of technology or jewellery, the ruby may be one of the most important gems and birthstones we know.
Of all the coloured gemstones it most represents passion and love; making it an ideal choice for your engagement ring or wedding ring. 40 years after your wedding day you could celebrate again with a ruby anniversary jewellery piece. But don’t wait that long, there are too many birthdays, Christmases, anniversaries and beautiful rubies to let slip by.