Long before being named as the Julys birthstone, natural rubies have mesmerized people with their deep red hue and exotic origins. These precious stones come in several shades of red, some with a hint of blue and others a true blood red. Historically, these gems have been associated with life, power and wealth. Believed to have protective properties and healing powers, they were once highly sought after by religious figures and royalty since first being mined in the Mogok region of Burma (now Myanmar). Over the centuries, these jewels have remained at the top of jewelry connoisseurs and gem lovers lists. Today, these gemstones continue to command prices comparable to diamonds, especially when created into stunning pieces of jewelry. Below are four interesting ruby facts that may surprise even the biggest colored gemstone enthusiasts.
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1. Natural rubies are believed to possess healing powers and protective properties.
Since first being discovered in Burma, the valuable blood red ruby gemstone has been shrouded in folklore and superstition. One of the most enduring of these myths suggests that the rare stone possessed healing and protective powers. Legend tells that before battle, Burmese soldiers would insert rubies into their flesh, believing that this would make them invincible during battle. Throughout the medieval period, belief in the protective qualities of rubies persisted, and many Europeans wore some of the finest rubies to guarantee health and wisdom. From ancient times to the present day, rubies have been highly sought after not only for their exquisite beauty, but also for their unique energy.
2. Sunshine causes rubies to literally glow.
Many rubies will glow when exposed to daylight. The effect of this red gem is not a result of their reputed mystical properties; rather, rubies contain high amounts of chromium, which gives them their saturated red appearance. Under UV light, this chromium causes rubies to appear to glow from within. Burmese rubies present the strongest fluorescence due to their high chromium content, and these valuable jewels will glow when exposed to even small amounts of sunlight. This unusual quality is unique to rubies and certainly adds another dimension of beauty and intrigue to this highly coveted and rare stone.
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3. Imperfections can actually improve a ruby’s appearance.
Unlike diamonds, small inclusions can enhance the value and beauty of a blood red ruby. Small silk-like fibers soften the red color of the precious stone and give it the velvety appearance that is so highly sought after. A lack of these small inclusions is also a tell tale sign that a red ruby has had heat treatment, since these mineral fibers disappear if the red gemstone is heated to 1800 degrees. Less than 1% of rubies that come to market are devoid of any type of heat treatment or enhancement, so finding a precious stone that has been certified as all natural is extremely uncommon and increases the price exponentially.
These mineral inclusions also cause the asterism or “star” that is present in star sapphires and star rubies. When skillfully fashioned into a cabochon, the appearance of the star becomes more pronounced, resulting in a highly unique stone for those seeking untreated, fine ruby or sapphire jewelry.
4. The most coveted color a red ruby can possess is known as “pigeon’s blood.”
The term “pigeon's blood” red has been used for hundreds of years to describe the specific color ruby mined in the Mogok region. According to legend, the red color of these rubies was the same hue as the first two drops of blood from the nose of a freshly killed pigeon. While the origin of the term is still unknown, “pigeon's blood” red has been used to describe the most exceptional Burmese rubies for hundreds of years. Gemologists and gemstone graders still dispute whether this term can be used as a grading criteria for rubies. However, it has become a widely recognized descriptor of rubies displaying the highly desired red hue.
Of all the gemstones, rubies continuously attract the most mystery and intrigue. Their association with life and power has fascinated people for centuries and made them one of the most sought-after stones, commanding prices that overshadow even the finest diamond jewelry. While Burmese rubies continue to lead the market in value and quality for a colored stone, their rarity makes them increasingly difficult to find, but new sources of the natural gemstone such as Mozambique are becoming hotspots for new mines.
Hopefully through this article, you have learned a few new ruby facts about these beautiful gems. No collection is complete without a ruby, and for July birthdays this birthstone certainly brings the heat. Whether you are looking for a ruby engagement ring or a stunning red colored bracelet with diamonds, M. S. Rau Antiques has a beautiful selection of fine ruby jewelry.
Shop our ruby jewelry selection to find the perfect addition to your jewelry collection.