Celebrated in the Bible and in ancient Sanskrit writings as the most precious of all gemstones, rubies have been the prized possession of emperors and kings throughout the ages. Ruby’s inner fire has been the inspiration for innumerable legends and myths, and to this day, no red gemstone can compare to its fiery, rich hues. It was believed wearing a fine red ruby bestowed good fortune on its owner – although the owner must have already had good fortune enough to possess such a rare and beautiful gemstone!
Blood-red. Fire-red. Color that burns along the veins, and gives brightness to the night. If you’re looking for the color of life itself, look no further than red. And the gemstone that brings red to vivid life can have only one name: Ruby. The “king of gems,” Ruby is one of the world’s oldest and most revered gemstones. It is also one of the rarest. The mineral Chromium is responsible for the gem’s startling color. Rubies with hardly any inclusions are so rare that large stones of good color fetch higher prices at auction than even diamonds. Fiery and romantic, showing brilliant depth and intensity, the red hue of Ruby is certain to draw attention. In settings that focus attention on voluptuous color, Ruby sends a message of drop-dead glamour and femininity. Ruby is the red variety of the corundum mineral species, while all other colors of corundum are called sapphire.
This most sought after gemstone is available in a range of red hues, from purplish and bluish red to orangish red. Ruby is readily available in sizes up to 2 carats, but larger sizes can be obtained. However, in its finest quality, any size ruby can be scare. In readily available small sizes, ruby makes an excellent accent gemstone because of its intense, pure red color
While Ruby producing countries include Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Tanzania and Madagascar, almost 90% of the world’s production of Ruby is from Myanmar. Due to human rights abuses in this country, the United States government has banned imports from Myanmar. While the ban is still in effect despite progressive reforms in Myanmar, most other sanctions have already been lifted and it seems the ban on gemstones will follow shortly. Those seeking to avoid the controversy or the expense of rubies might choose a different red gemstone such as spinel or garnet, or just celebrate with synthetic ruby, red CZs, or crystal items. Either way, there is something for everyone, whether born in July, celebrating a 15th or 40th anniversary, or anyone who is simply drawn to the color.
Despite all the best efforts of gemstone merchants to use technology to enrich color, fine ruby is still exceptionally rare. After being extracted from the earth, rubies today are commonly heated to high temperatures to maximize the purity and intensity of their red hue. Impurities may also dissolve or become less noticeable after heating. However, heating will only improve the color if the gemstone already contains the chemistry required. Occasionally rubies with small imperfections are permeated with a silicate byproduct of the heating process, which helps to make small fissures less visible. This enhancement, like heating, is permanent and rubies, whether enhanced or not, remain among the most durable of gems.
Today a new method of artificially coloring the surface of paler rubies through the diffusion of beryllium, or a similar element, has made the red of ruby more affordable. Although this method is not yet common, in the future beryllium-diffused rubies may offer an affordable alternative to either untreated or heat-enhanced rubies, which are both much more rare. However, recutting or repolishing may affect the color of some beryllium-diffusion treated rubies.
See the experts at Jürgens Jewelers on how to best care for your Ruby Jewelry.