It’s July and Here’s Why Ruby is Your Birthstone

By: Shmukler Design

If you’ve been following along since the launch of the Custom Jewelry Blog, you know that each month we endeavor to shine a light on the birthstone representing the current month of the year. This month, we’re pleased to tell you about the pink to blood-red colored gemstone known as ruby.

Rubies are a type of corundum — a mineral made up of densely packed oxygen and aluminum atoms. Under normal conditions, corundum is colorless. But when a small number of atoms are substituted for some of the aluminum atoms, the result is the emergence of some truly unique colors. Both ruby and sapphire are scientifically the same mineral, differing only in color. Ruby is defined as red corundum. Anything not red is classified as sapphire.

For example:

  • The deep red color of the ruby is attributable to a small amount of chromium introduced into the mix.
  • Iron and titanium work together in the combination to create blue sapphire.
  • Ferric iron and chromium result in the shades of orange found in the very rare and costly Padparadscha sapphire.

Rubies Throughout History

As far back as the 6th Century BCE (Before the Common Era), those who wrote books in what would eventually become the Bible, described the existence of rubies. Exodus 28:17, for example, refers to the ruby as one of the stones imbedded in the breastplate of the high priest. In both Job 28:18 and Proverbs 8:11, a comparison is offered between the value of wisdom and rubies. And, according to Proverbs 31:10, a “virtuous and capable wife” was considered more valuable than rubies.

The second-hardest gemstone after the diamond, the ruby has always been prized for its blood-like color. Because of the intense red color — which was naturally associated with love and passion — Europeans throughout the Middle Ages (i.e., the medieval period stretching from 476 AD to 1453 AD) sought to import rubies from as far away as Burma, India, and Sri Lanka.

Lapidaries — artisan who formed gemstones into decorative items such as cabochons, engraved gems, and faceted designs — ascribed numerous intrinsic virtues and magical powers to the ruby, including:

  • Defense against poisoning
  • The dispelling of bad thoughts
  • A guardian against unwanted lust
  • A promoter of good health
  • Something capable of strengthen pacts between people and nations

More recently, rubies have been featured in collections at world-famous museums, including the Louvre in Paris, where you’ll find the 105-carat Anne of Brittany Ruby. The British Museum of Natural History houses the 167-carat Edwardes Ruby, while the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., lays claim to the 138.7-carat Rosser Reeves Ruby and the 23.1-carat Carmen Lúcia Ruby ring.

Where Rubies are Found

Rubies can be found in many different countries, including Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Pakistan, Tanzania, Burma, Thailand, Nepal, Tajikistan, Madagascar, and Australia. Here in the United States, rubies have been found in both North and South Carolina, as well as Wyoming and Montana.

One of the more interesting places where rubies have been mined is Greenland. Similar in quality to those found in Mozambique and Burma, Greenland rubies were first discovered by locals more than 200 years ago, and verified by European scientists shortly thereafter. More recently, in 1966, a full geological survey was conducted on a small island in a lake at the head of the Tasiussarssuaq fjord in Greenland. At the time, the island had no name, but today — because of its vast deposits of gem-quality ruby material — it is called Ruby Island.

Ruby Caring and Cleaning

Since corundum’s hardness is second only to diamond, and since rubies do not have layers that are prone to cracking, July’s birthstone requires no special care, per se. Still the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) — the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones, and pearls — recommends the following cleaning tips for rubies:

  • Warm soapy water is always safe.
  • Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe for untreated, heat-treated, and lattice diffusion-treated stones.
  • Fracture-filled, cavity-filled, or dyed material should only be cleaned with a damp cloth.

If you’d like to know more about the ruby or discuss a custom jewelry project featuring this very popular gemstone, call Boris here at Shmukler Design — (949) 870-9915.

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  1. […] to be aware of. Being one of two varieties of corundum (the other being ruby, which is one of July’s birthstones), the other colors associated with sapphires are gray, colorless, black, and a pinkish-orange […]

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