Ruby, July's Birthstone

The ruby is often called "The King of Gems."

Ruby is the name used commonly for transparent red corundum. Red or pink corundums are called "rubies," while blue, or any other color is generally referred to as a sapphire. The color of the stone is caused by trace amounts of impurity, usually metallic oxides. Chromic oxide causes brilliant red color that produces rubies. The ruby ranks high on the Moh's scale of hardness, a number nine to be specific. The only stone that bests it is the diamond, rated a ten. This hardness means that the ruby is a durable stone that can take some wear and tear.

For many years, India was thought to be the place of the ruby's origin. Indian literature, which is rich in information about gemstones has been handed down from generation to generation, for more than two thousand years. The word "corundum" is derived from the Sanskrit word "kuruvinda." The Sanskrit word for ruby is 'ratnaraj', meaning "king of the gemstones" and it was the ruby that was and still is a favorite of royalty all over the world over.

When a ruby exhibits a silky shine, known as the "silk" of the ruby, it is caused by very fine needles of rutile. On rare occasions, a star ruby is found and, again, it is rutile that forms a star-shaped deposit within the ruby, that creates this amazing light effect, known by the experts as asterism. When a ruby of this kind is cut in a half-dome shape, it is referred to as a cabochons, and a six-spoked star will appear to magically glide across the surface of the stone, as it is moved about. Star rubies are very rare and so very pricey.

Most rubies have been enhanced through heat treatment. The use of high temperatures and subsequent controlled cooling helps to clarify the color of the stone, and may also improve its tone and saturation of color. Heat-treated rubies can usually not be detected, sometimes, even by an expert. Common thought is that simple heating, because its results are indistinguishable from the natural stone, the processes are acceptable, so long it is disclosed. Typically, these treatments don't radically lower the value of rubies.

The color of a ruby can often tell us where the ruby was mined. For example, Burmese stones tend to be purplish red colors and Thai rubies are more brownish red. Some rubies offer a bonus. They fluoresce in long or short wave UV. Burmese rubies often fluoresce so strongly that the effect can be seen even in daylight. The stones actually appear to glow. Thai stones generally lack this property. There are also other, smaller yield sources for rubies, including the United States, Australia, and most recently Africa.

Corundum, i.e., rubies were first synthesized as far back as the early 1900's, when a simple flame fusion process was used. The processes of creating synthetic rubies have been refined through the years and they so closely emulate the natural stone that it is difficult for all but the most highly skilled professionals to identify a man-made stone.

As with other gemstones, the price of a ruby depends on color, clarity and cut, with large, brilliant rubies very rare and expensive. Contrary to popular belief, the concept that the darker a ruby is, the better, the most attractive rubies are not deep red, which appear almost black, not very light, which appear colorless. It's the in-between color is the prettiest.

Rubies should be cleaned with hot soapy water, or detergent, and then rinsed well. Enzyme cleaners should be avoided. An old tooth brush works well to remove dirt and grease.

Rubies are rare and precious and a stone that most women would be delighted to have in their jewelry wardrobe.

There are those who believe that the ruby, like other gemstones and crystals has healing powers. They believe that the stone encourages the wearer to seek happiness. Furthermore, it stimulates the basic instinct of/for survival and strengthens both the physical and emotional heart. Ruby brings love, confidence, loyalty, and courage. It instills stamina, vitality and strength. It brings renewed energy after exhaustion and helps to reduce negative thought patterns.

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